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Breaking News and Information – August 2019

  • November 16, 2019
  • /   Dr. Peter Breggin
  • /   newsflash

Current News


News & Information for August 31 - September 1, 2019

 Explaining depression biologically increases prognostic pessimism

A recent study published in Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice examines the effects of psychoeducation on perceptions toward depression. The study tests how biological and person-environment interaction explanations differ in effects on treatment preference, prognostic pessimism, and stigma. The authors approach the issue from the lens of attribution theory, which explores how the framing of ‘mental illness’ can contribute to beliefs and actions around the phenomenon. “For example, the biomedical model assumes that depression is a brain-based dysfunction and that brain function is largely the result of a predetermined genetic makeup or chemical imbalance. In this way, attributing depression to a biomedical etiology entails a causality that is internal, stable, and uncontrollable. In contrast, by emphasizing learned cognitive patterns, environmental contingencies, and the interactions between these factors, cognitive and behavioral model of depression can be characterized as more external, variable, and controllable. The examination of this process is essential in determining how depression etiology should be framed in a way that supports effective treatment-seeking and relevant attitudes,” write Martha Zimmerman and Dr. Anthony Papa of the University of Nevada.

Ian's thoughts: ... increases prognostic pessimism and drug-company profits... you'll need these drugs for the rest of your biologically broken life. 

Drug makers conspired to worsen the opioid crisis. They have blood on their hands

Johnson & Johnson and others profited from addiction and death – and yet they still don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. Johnson & Johnson came out swinging after an Oklahoma judge ruled this week that the company has blood on its hands for driving America’s opioid epidemic. The pharmaceutical giant tried to blame Mexicans, doctors and, inevitably, the victims themselves for the biggest drug epidemic in the country’s history. Its lawyers reframed a corporate engineered tragedy that has escalated for two decades, and claimed more than 400,000 lives, as a “drug abuse crisis”, neatly shifting responsibility from those who sold prescription opioids to those who used them. Johnson & Johnson painted itself as a victim of unwarranted smears by grasping opportunists trying to lay their hands on its money when all the company wanted to do was help people. [...] Judge Thad Balkman wasn’t having it.  [...] Balkman found that the company’s “false, misleading, and dangerous marketing campaigns have caused exponentially increasing rates of addiction, overdose deaths”. He said the drug maker lied about the science in training sales reps to tell doctors its high-strength narcotic painkillers were safe and effective when they were addictive and had a limited impact on pain.

School-based mindfulness leads to stress reduction, study finds

Researchers find improvements in stress-related outcomes among middle school students exposed to a school-based mindfulness program characterized by attention and focus-related strategies, mindsets associated with stress, and overarching beliefs. [...] Their results, outlined in the American Psychological Association’s Behavioral Neurosciencepublication, indicate a relationship between mindfulness training and brain changes relevant to a variety of school-based outcomes relevant to stress. Bauer and colleagues’ work is unique in that it is the first to demonstrate that “a neurocognitive mechanism for both stress and its reduction by mindfulness training is related specifically to reduced amygdala responses to negative stimuli.” Beyond solidifying the connection others have established between school-based success and mindfulness practice, this particular study provides a potential explanation for the mechanisms at play.

The scary way antidepressants could affect your sleep

[A]ntidepressant side effects can also turn that figurative nightmare into a literal one. Do some digging on the internet and you’ll see plenty of people on antidepressants reporting strange, intense, sometimes alarming dreams. “They are scary, not like a zombie apocalypse, but like a car accident or a heart attack,” Gaby Dunn wrote on Thought Catalog. “They feel real and realistic, which makes them even more disturbing.” After starting antidepressants, Savannah Hemming wrote on Femsplain, “My dreams are vibrant, rich, and detailed, occurring in a world with as much depth as the one I live in during the day.… Sometimes the gorgeous hyper-realism and detail of these dreams feel like a curse, especially after I have nightmarish dreams.” Sleep doctors aren’t surprised by this common antidepressant side effect. “This is absolutely something I’ve seen,” board-certified sleep specialist Michael Breus, Ph.D., author of The Power Of When, tells SELF. In addition to dream-related changes, antidepressants can affect your sleep in all sorts of ways, both good and bad.

One-year-old prescribed antidepressants by NHS in Scotland

[ August 2016 ] A one-year-old boy was prescribed antidepressants by the NHS in Scotland, as prescriptions for the drugs soared across the UK. NHS Tayside in Dundee prescribed the medication to 450 children between January and May this year, with the youngest being seven years old. In 2014, the trust prescribed antidepressants to a one-year-old boy, according to figures obtained by the Dundee Evening Telegraph. [...] The figures also showed the most common age group for antidepressants to be prescribed was for those aged between 14 and 17, and that girls were more likely to be given the medication than boys. [...] Though NHS guidelines state that under 18s should not be prescribed antidepressants, over 100,000 prescriptions a year are given to teenagers, according to the Daily Telegraph. 

Expert warns lack of sleep changes DNA behavior, cause weight gain, high blood pressure

Everyone knows sleep is important, but that doesn’t stop millions from staying up late and neglecting their beauty rest each night. There’s no shortage of research showing how lack of ample sleep can affect one’s mental health, but experts also warn that it also raises the risk of heart disease, may lead to weight gain, and can even change the way our DNA behaves. The warning comes with a recent survey of 2,000 British adults that shows only 17% regularly enjoy the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. While the rest of us might expect to be a bit tired after a sleepless night, the extreme impact an inadequate sleep schedule can have on the human body may surprise you. Paul Gringras, professor of sleep medicine at Evelina London, says that consistent lack of sleep can be very dangerous. “Those people who sleep under six hours have a higher risk of coronary heart disease, their blood pressure is higher and their cholesterol is worse,” Gringras comments in a media release. “Our lack of sleep as a nation has been compared to ‘the canary in the coalmine’, in that poor sleep is linked to so many other serious health issues.”

Today's teens are anxious, and social media can play a role

Today’s teens are high-strung and socially overextended. We shrug it off as a millennial problem, but is it? In a world that encourages the quick fix, instant gratification, and real-time feedback, can we really expect our children to cope as we did less than two decades ago, in the land of handshakes, eye contact, elbow grease, and grit? There is more competition for education than ever before. When my father became a policeman in 1987, he only needed a character referral. Nowadays, a degree in criminology might get your foot in the door of a local detachment, but not always. And a full-time teaching position? One is required to hold an undergraduate degree with a teachable major, as well as a professional development certification to secure this type of employment. That’s at least five years of undergraduate school in order to start earning approximately $40,000 a year to start.

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for August 30, 2019

5 natural ways to strengthen your mind

Scientists are still discovering the extent of the mind’s capacity and capabilities. Its neuroplastic nature was only recently discovered, and despite popular belief, the human mind can be developed and strengthened to function optimally. Here are five natural ways to enhance your mind’s performance. [...] Besides these five activities, scientists have evidence to believe that socializing and learning a new musical instrument or a language, as well as reducing stress, can enhance the mind’s performance. The important factor is to keep challenging and nurturing the mind to grow. The mind needs good fuel, sufficient rest, and proper stimulation to function optimally.

Can you actually learn how to be happier?

Yale professor Laurie Santos believes so. Her new podcast, "The Happiness Lab", based on her popular happiness course, shares science-backed happiness strategies to help you live your life to the fullest. Everyone wants to be happy. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is even written into the United States Declaration of Independence. But, if we aren’t inherently, intrinsically happy, can we learn how to be? Is even possible to define happiness in order to achieve it? Laurie Santos, a psychologist, has a handle on that info. A professor at Yale, she teaches a class called “Psychology and the Good Life,” which is said to be the most popular class ever offered there. Her new podcast, "The Happiness Lab", digs deep into various aspects of the science of happiness, with entertaining insights from guests such as David Byrne and Michelle Kwan. [...] Santos says three decades worth of positive psychology research was a great place to start. “The work takes a simple approach — find happy people and see what they're doing that's different than not-so-happy people,” she explains. “Once you get some hints, you can run experiments to see if people who are not happy can improve their well-being by following the behavior of happy people.” She says this research has revealed lots of practical ways we can begin to improve our lives through developing habits that promote happiness.

Lavender oil significantly improves anxiety-induced insomnia

Pharmaceutical quality lavender oil has a significant anxiolytic (anxiety relieving) effect and improves insomnia when taken orally as a daily capsule, new data shows(1).  Disturbed sleep is a prevalent symptom in anxiety disorders and a key diagnosis criterion for subthreshold and generalised anxiety disorders (GAD)(2). It is estimated that more than two thirds of patients with GAD suffer from insomnia(3), with even higher rates amongst the elderly, causing a detrimental effect on patients’ daily living skills and quality of life(4). In 80% of patients with diagnosed anxiety disorders, symptoms of insomnia appear simultaneously with anxiety symptoms(5) highlighting the importance of targeting insomnia in the treatment of anxiety. [...] ‘’This is a positive development for anxiety. Research demonstrates that the lavender oil capsules reduce both physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety (including sleep disturbances), without issues such as sedation, addiction or withdrawal. Lavender oil capsules provide a promising alternative treatment option to prescription drugs for subthreshold anxiety sufferers.”

What smartphones are doing to your teenager's mental health

How many times have you heard that screen time is bad for adolescent mental health? As a pediatrician, I've told many families that small amounts of screen time are fine, but large amounts of screen time are associated with higher rates of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. That's been what the research has been suggesting, and it's practically accepted wisdom. But a new study published last week in Clinical Psychological Science calls those ideas into question. [...] The authors concluded, "Findings from this ... study do not support the narrative that young adolescents’ digital technology usage is associated with elevated mental health symptoms." In a statement about the paper, study author Michaeline Jensen, assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said “Contrary to the common belief that smartphones and social media are damaging adolescents’ mental health, we don’t see much support for the idea that time spent on phones and online is associated with increased risk for mental health problems.”

Ian's thoughts: However, the preponderance of studies favor that social media may have a negative impact on mental health. Examples can be found in news reports below.

Study says fast food may lead to depression in teens

A new study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) found that diets heavy in fast food and light in vegetables may lead to depression in teens. The study focused on a small sample size of 84 middle school girls and boys, 95 percent of whom are African Americans from low-income homes. The study examined overnight urine samples to test for high sodium and low potassium at baseline and again 18 months later. The study found symptoms of depression in both children and their parents, regardless of sex, blood pressure and weight. "High sodium, you've got to think of highly processed food," the study’s lead author Sylvie Mrug, chair of the psychology department at UAB, told CNN. "This includes fast food, frozen meals and unhealthy snacks. The study findings make sense, as potassium-rich foods are healthy foods," added dietitian Lisa Drayer, a CNN health and nutrition contributor. "So, if adolescents include more potassium-rich foods in their diet, they will likely have more energy and feel better overall — which can lead to a better sense of well-being and improved mental health." 

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

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

News & Information for August 29, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Show - Open Mic - August 28, 2019

This Open Mic Wednesday, which is always the last show of the month, turned into an extraordinary interview with my first caller. I began the hour talking about the importance of self-determination, autonomy, independence, personal sovereignty and the dreadful “R—Word,” responsibility. I described how all of us are tempted to let others take over at times while we lapse into some degree of helplessness. I outlined the potentially deadly results when psychiatry takes over for people who feel or act helpless. Then Julie Greene called in and told the story of how she was taken over by psychiatry, put on drugs for decades, and finally developed kidney disease from lithium but was lied to about it. But Julie is a powerful being and she managed to throw off the disabling impact of psychiatry suppress and to begin rebuilding her life. Her story of retaking control of herself fit seamlessly into my introduction about taking charge of one’s own life. The conversation between Julie and me provides a marvelous opportunity to see with dramatic clarity the harm that psychiatry does in robbing people of their sense of personal sovereignty and free will—and how individuals can nonetheless find their own power, throw off the yoke, and begin to build lives for themselves. A very strong hour!

Are stimulants safe for children?

Fractional anisotrophy (FA) is a measure of connectivity in the brain. As such, it’s a reflection of cognitive aging as determined by the deterioration of white matter. The more white matter, the “younger” the brain, and vice versa. [...] A 2019 study published online in Neuroradiology found that after 16 weeks of MPH “treatment,” the brains of pre-teen boys (10 – 12) showed statistically significant cognitive aging as determined by measures of FA. Mind you, every single one of the boys taking MPH showed cognitive aging. A placebo group of boys showed no cognitive aging; neither did adult males who exhibited ADHD characteristics and were given equivalent doses of MPH. In other words, the damage to the brain (it’s called “compromised white matter integrity”) done by MPH was exclusive to the pre-teen group, comprised of kids whose brains are still in development. Boys are much more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD and given MPH, so what we have here is a problem – white matter deterioration – that is going to affect boys, primarily, in ways not yet determined. Now, intact WM is critical to executive function – sustained attention, problem solving, and impulse control being three primary components thereof. [...] What sensible parent, hearing that warning, is going to let MPH damage their child’s brain? 

Is depression drug lauded by Trump oversold?

Suicides are rising among veterans, and pressure has been mounting for health officials to take action. [...] The Mayo Clinic recently credited Spravato as having specifically anti-suicidal properties. But the clinical trial evidence for Spravato was so deficient upon submission for approval that the FDA committee reviewing the drug had to change its rules in order to greenlight the drug for sale last February, noting its breakthrough status in accepting a weaker type of scientific evidence for one of the drugmaker's two mandatory successful trials. [...] The evidence for Spravato as an agent for suicide prevention is lacking. Though they were not seen as caused by the treatment, the six deaths recorded in trials of the drug were among patients who were taking the medication, three of them by suicide. [...] "I don't know how they say it's anti-suicidal," says Witczak, who was one of two members to vote against the drug.

Teen birth control use linked to depression risk in adulthood

Women who used oral contraceptives during adolescence are more likely to develop depression as adults, suggests new research from the University of British Columbia. In a study published today in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, researchers found teenage birth control pill users were 1.7 times to three times more likely to be clinically depressed in adulthood, compared to women who started taking birth control pills as adults, and to women who had never taken birth control pills. The study is the first to look at oral contraceptive use during adolescence and its link with women's long-term vulnerability to depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability and suicide deaths worldwide, and women are twice as likely as men to develop depression at some point in their lives. "Our findings suggest that the use of oral contraceptives during adolescence may have an enduring effect on a woman's risk for depression--even years after she stops using them," said Christine Anderl, the study's first author and a UBC psychology postdoctoral fellow. "Adolescence is an important period for brain development. Previous animal studies have found that manipulating sex hormones, especially during important phases of brain development, can influence later behaviour in a way that is irreversible."

Does a broader concept of harm make us weaker?

A new paper in the journal Personality and Individual Differences considers the implications of the ever-broadening meanings of concepts like abuse, bullying, prejudice, and trauma. The research recognizes that the broadening of these concepts in recent years could have positive as well as negative implications. “Broadened concepts might problematize harmful behavior that was previously tolerated but might also make people over-sensitive and fragile.” The paper's first study found that, as expected, people with broader concepts of harm showed more “liberal political attitudes, and high empathic concern.” The researchers were surprised to find that young people in the study didn't show broader concepts about harm than older participants. However, their second study found that “people holding broader concepts were younger and tended to feel more vulnerable and entitled.”

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for August 28, 2019

Is your weight aging your brain?

Just in case you needed another reason to lose weight, a new study has found that midlife obesity may make brains age faster.
The study looked at weight, waist size, and markers of brain health, including cortical thickness, brain volume, and evidence of small strokes. It found that having a high body mass index (BMI) or large waist was associated with brains that appeared at least 10 years older than those of thinner people. The research, which used data from the Northern Manhattan Study, a long-term study of Manhattan residents, and was led by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, could not say whether obesity actually causes the brain changes. It was published recently in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study analyzed brain scans of 1,289 people with an average age of 64. Sixty percent were female and 66% were Latino. They were followed an average of six years after body measurements were taken. The heaviest group had a BMI of 30 or greater and a waist circumference of more than 40 inches for men and more than 35 inches for women.

Can ecotherapy boost your mental health? Spending time with nature comes with so many benefits

Telling someone with a mental health issue to "spend more time outside" is often viewed as inherently unhelpful. But it turns out there is some truth to the retort. Ecotherapy is being used as a mental health treatment across the UK with some of the main benefits being that it's generally free, accessible, and, most importantly, successful. As mental health charity Mind explains, ecotherapy can take several different forms: group activities such as camping and farming and individual pursuits like gardening or walking. Once considered a more alternative form of treatment, now even GP surgeries are prescribing it, reports the Guardian. [...] Research backs this up. A review of ecotherapy, published in Frontiers in Psychology, noted that interacting with green spaces has been linked to an "increased length of life and deceased risk of mental illness across a number of countries." Plus, healing gardens were "shown to reduce depression."

How to sleep: Three signs your mood is affecting your sleep - here’s how to treat it

Sleep is essential for the mind and body to function. A lack of sleep can be a vicious cycle - it negatively affects a person’s mood which in turn can disrupt their sleeping pattern. Addressing the underlying factors affecting a person’s mood can improve their psychological wellbeing while improving their sleeping pattern. According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are three main signs a person’s mood is affecting their sleep. If a person’s mind is constantly racing, causing them to toss and turn in the night and obsess over anxious thoughts, this can be red flag. As the National Sleep Foundation explained: “The inability to shut off the pessimistic chatter in your head during night hours is a major contributor to sleep issues. “In fact, the risk of insomnia is much higher among people with major depressive disorders.” [...] As the NHS explained, making lifestyle changes such as keeping to a healthy diet, reducing alcohol intake and getting regular exercise, can help a person feel more in control and more able to cope. Making sure the bedroom is a relaxing environment without distractions may help a person slow their mind down, said the NHS. Self-help techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and learning new ways to think about problems may also help, advised the health body.

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 August 27, 2019

It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the ’80s

More than a third of adults in the United States are obese. This statistic is often attributed to a confluence of unhealthy dietary practices, sedentary lifestyles, and genetics. But we may be missing the bigger picture.

A 2015 study revealed that people today are 10 percent heavier than they were in the 1980s—even with the same diets and exercise regimens. A new episode of The Idea File investigates the plethora of complex factors that may be contributing to our increasing BMI, including a changing microbiome and toxic chemicals in the environment.

 Antidepressant withdrawal and changing scientific consensus

A shift in scientific consensus can be difficult to pinpoint, much less measure accurately, but no less important to assess for its many causes and effects. That is especially true of Antidepressant Withdrawal (AW), a medical syndrome academic psychiatry took more than two decades to recognize that is now starting to receive the research and media coverage it needs, given the millions of patients affected worldwide. Last week, the Cambridge journal Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences published “Antidepressant Withdrawal—The Tide Is Turning,” a paper by leading European researchers Michael P. Hengartner, James Davies, and John Read documenting psychiatry’s protracted delay in recognizing AW as a full-blown medical disorder. “The preferred narrative,” they write, was that the condition amounted to symptoms that “affect only a small minority, are mostly mild, and resolve spontaneously within 1-2 weeks.” [...] Academic psychiatry, write Hengartner, Davies, and Read, has “long clung to the illusion that withdrawal reactions or discontinuation symptoms are minor problems that affect only a small minority and which resolve spontaneously.” [...] That is where we are. This is what happens when a “preferred narrative” collapses under the weight of long-suppressed counter-evidence. Those who have invested decades and careers in its assumptions are likely to try to cling to its illusions, seemingly unaware that in doing so they’re misinforming their patients on the high probability of AW and other adverse effects.

Psychiatry is slowly catching up with what Dr Breggin has been reporting for decades. Here's the study reported above: 

The study: Antidepressant withdrawal – the tide is finally turning

Withdrawal reactions when coming off antidepressants have long been neglected or minimised. It took almost two decades after the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) entered the market for the first systematic review to be published. More reviews have followed, demonstrating that the dominant and long-held view that withdrawal is mostly mild, affects only a small minority and resolves spontaneously within 1–2 weeks, was at odd with the sparse but growing evidence base. What the scientific literature reveals is in close agreement with the thousands of service user testimonies available online in large forums. It suggests that withdrawal reactions are quite common, that they may last from a few weeks to several months or even longer, and that they are often severe. These findings are now increasingly acknowledged by official professional bodies and societies.

Seoul's over-65s disco 'like medicine' for seniors


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 August 26, 2019

Risk of depressive relapse three times higher after previous antidepressant use

A new study found that having been prescribed an antidepressant previously was associated with an increased risk of depressive relapse after full recovery. The risk was about three times higher than for those who had never taken an antidepressant. The research was led by Jay Amsterdam and Thomas Kim at the University of Pennsylvania and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. They write, “These findings support prior evidence of a negative influence of the number of prior antidepressant treatment trials on the likelihood of response and suggest that the number of prior antidepressant trials may also be associated with a greater odds of depressive relapse and a shorter time to relapse.” [...] In the study, people taking fluoxetine were slightly less likely to relapse—about a third of those participants relapsed, compared to about half of those taking lithium or a placebo. However, the largest predictor of whether someone would relapse was whether they had taken antidepressants before being enrolled in the study. For each previous prescription of antidepressants, the risk of relapse went up about one and a half times. Those who had taken antidepressants were 2.93 times more likely to relapse than those who had not.

Temple stay beneficial to mental health, SNUH says

The temple stay program, or a retreat program to practice Buddhist meditation at a temple, is conducive to enhancing mental health, a local study found. The research team, led by Kwon Jun-soo, a professor at the Psychiatry Department of Seoul National University Hospital, published the study on how temple stay affects mental health in international journals. The researchers studied 50 workers who attended a four-day temple stay program at Daewon Temple in Mt. Jiri from 2014 to 2015. They divided the participants into 12 groups. Thirty-three of them participated in the temple stay program, while the rest 17 stayed in the same place but freely maintained their lifestyle. The results showed that the temple stay group had stronger resilience to stress, compared to the control group. The effect not only rose for a short period but remained high three months after the program. [...] “Temple stay’s enhancing default mode network signals that participating in the program might give the brain more rest than simply taking a rest,” the research team said. Temple stay participants also had more excellent connectivity among the frontal and parietal lobes and the white matter bundles connecting the brain's left and right hemispheres, the researchers found in an additional study.

It's easier to regulate your emotions with this type of self-talk

“Positive self-talk can be used to encourage or reinforce our daily or long-term behavioral, cognitive, and emotional goals.” [...] Self-talk as a category of communication is wide-ranging, but you’ve likely engaged in some type of it before. One formal definition of it is a “dialogue [through which] the individual interprets feelings and perceptions, regulates and changes evaluations and convictions, and gives him/herself instructions and reinforcement.” It’s also talking to yourself, either in your head or out loud. [...] In 2010, scientists from the University of Toronto found that one’s “inner voice” can help people exercise self-control and prevent individuals from making impulsive decisions. Meanwhile, in 2017, a different team of researchers took this concept a step further with a study published in Scientific Reports” based on the premise that “third-person* [emphasis mine] self-talk leads people to think about the self similar to how they think about others, which provides them with the psychological distance needed to facilitate self-control.”

Peer-pressure can encourage patience and healthy eating

Peer-pressure can make people do bad things.  Trying recreational drugs for the first time is often linked to being around peers that use drugs. First time recreational drug users are often led down a path by frequently being around other users.  This can be most pronounced in schools and social settings.  But can peer-pressure also have positive results? [...] Many people know about the marshmallow study, but there is a new twist: New research has use built on a classic study on children and patience to shed light on how kids can be healthier eaters.  As a review, the classic marshmallow study has shown that children who wait for a larger reward, as opposed to those who settle for immediate gratification, have very positive outcomes later in life.  The “marshmallow test” was devised over 50 years ago, and showed that if a child is given one marshmallow but can resist the urge to immediately eat it and wait a few minutes (while the experimenter left the room), then the child would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.  Children who were able to delay their gratification and wait (even a few seconds longer) for the larger reward, tended to have better life outcomes years later, suggesting that good things happen to those who (can) wait [3].  The novel recent twist on this study has shown that if children are around other children who opt to wait for the second marshmallow (a peer pressure to wait because all the other kids are doing it!), then they too will wait – showing just how powerful peer-pressure can be [4]. 

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 August 24-25, 2019

Monarch eTNS Inspires “Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children!” (SPAC!)

By Peter Breggin, MD & Michael Cornwall, PhD

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Monarch eTNS, a device with electrodes that is placed onto the forehead of children labeled with an ADHD diagnosis. The Monarch, which applies electrical currents that can disrupt the activity of the brain’s highly sensitive frontal lobes, is intended to be used throughout the night while the child is sleeping, and for an unlimited number of days. Reported side effects include fatigue, headache, jaw clenching, and sleep disturbance. Misleadingly promoted as a trigeminal nerve stimulator designed to “modulate” the child’s brain, the device acts to deform the brain’s natural and normal electrical system. All under the guise of treating so-called ADHD, a supposed “disease” that meets none of the criteria for one. The FDA approval of the Monarch is but the latest form of psychiatric-inspired child abuse and, if not stopped, will afflict millions of children in unimaginably damaging ways. It has inspired us to form  Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children (SPAC!) a new international advocacy organization, a project of the nonprofit Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy.

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour - 08/21/19

A kind, gentle and thoughtful conversation with Beatrice Birch, an art therapist who founded Inner Fire, a non-drug, small residential “proactive healing community” in Vermont.  Her program’s mere existence makes me hopeful!   Beatrice has a caring, spiritual approach based on love which is, I am sure, the heart of healing.   She leaves behind the psychiatric framework, identifying participants as “guides” and “seekers.”  True healing comes through loving, healing relationships which by their very nature are health-giving to all involved, including those who offer and those who seek help.  She works with a psychiatrist to help her "seekers" withdraw from psychiatric drugs, relying on a variety of alternative approaches.   Her comparisons between drug therapy and true healing are worth listening to on this Dr. Peter Breggin Hour. 

How Exercise Benefits Overweight and Obese Individuals’ Brains

We know that exercise can improve our moods and even help us manage mental illness, but can it help how our brains actually function? Researchers recently learned that in addition to the rest of the body, overweight and obese people are prone to insulin resistance in the brain. So, they wanted to know whether exercise could improve both insulin sensitivity in the brain and cognition in overweight people. Turns out, it can. The study went as such [...] "The bottom line is that exercise improves brain function. And increasing insulin sensitivity in dopamine-related brain regions through exercise may help decrease the risk of a person to develop type 2 diabetes, along with the benefits for mood and cognition."

Swiss fact: Ritalin was invented in Switzerland

In 1944, Leandro Panizzon synthesized methylphenidate in Basel while working for CIBA (now Novartis). He tested the drug on himself and his wife Marguerite, nicknamed Rita. Rita played tennis and the drug improved her performance on the court. Panizzon decided to name the drug Ritalin after his wife. In 1955, the US FDA licensed the drug for medical use but it wasn’t until the 1990s that its use really took off. In 2011, around 7% of US children were taking some form of ADHD medication. In 2016, 18.6tons of methylphenidate pills were taken in the US alone. Closely related to amphetamine, more commonly known as speed, the prescription drug Ritalin increases heart rate and can reduce appetite, cause nausea and worsen symptoms of psychosis – click here for a longer list of potential effects.

How exercise can help with first episode psychosis

A study published in BMC Psychiatry examined participation in an exercise-training program for people in treatment for first-episode psychosis. The qualitative research suggests that participants derived positive experiences from the program and supports the use of exercise as an adjunctive treatment for first-episode psychosis. “Despite considerable progress in treatment, people [diagnosed] with schizophrenia are 2–2.5 times more likely to die earlier than the general population,” the authors write. “Cardiovascular diseases constitute a significant contributing factor to this mortality gap, which may be partly attributable to weight gain induced by antipsychotic medication.”

Flower power: how they improve emotional well-being

Science shows that having bright and fragrant blooms around your home can reduce your anxiety, make you more compassionate and boost your energy at work. One study even suggests flowers help in the healing process after hospital surgery. So which kinds should you pick for a happiness-inducing arrangement? Ellna Yu Chun-ha loves flowers. They bring her joy and enhance the look of her home. “Just looking at a pretty arrangement relaxes me instantly, which is just what I need after a long and stressful day,” says the safety instructor, who lives in Hong Kong. “And no matter where I place the arrangement, it has the effect of brightening up the space and making the area look more inviting.” [...] According to lead researcher Nancy Etcoff, assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, study participants who had fresh cut flowers in their home for less than a week had increased feelings of compassion and kindness for others.[...] “As a psychologist, I’m particularly intrigued to find that people who live with flowers report fewer episodes of anxiety and depressed feelings,” Etcoff said in a media release. “Our results suggest that flowers have a positive impact on our well-being.”

Parkinson’s disease: This relaxation activity can help alleviate symptoms

Mindfulness yoga can help to ease these symptoms, according to a study published in JAMA Neurology. Mindfulness yoga combines meditation with controlled breathing. In a randomised controlled clinical trial in people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease (PD), Jojo Kwok, PhD, MPH, RN, a research assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues compared eight weeks of mindfulness yoga to stretching and resistance training. Both exercise programs improved movement symptoms. But mindfulness yoga improved movement symptoms to a greater degree, reduced anxiety and depression, and improved outlook and quality of life. Specifically, those in the yoga program reported greater improvement in psychospiritual outcomes, such as equanimity (or being able to accept the ups and downs in life as they come.), reported psychology website Psypost.

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 August 23, 2019

 Science again upholds the notion that love is good for us

Science has again upheld the notion that love is good for us, that being close to your loved one—whether in body or spirit—can make you healthier. A recent study found that visualizing your significant other may be just as effective as having them in the room with you for lowering your blood pressure. The study, published by University of Arizona (UA) psychologists in the journal Psychophysiology, discovered that when it comes to managing the body's cardiovascular response to stressful situations, just thinking about your romantic partner may help keep your blood pressure under control just as effectively as actually having your significant other in the room with you. [...] “Close relationships, especially high‐quality romantic relationships, are consistently associated with positive physical health outcomes,” wrote UA psychology doctoral student, Kyle J. Bourassa. In an article in UA News, Bourassa said while previous studies have suggested that having a partner present or visualizing a partner can help manage the body's physiological response to stress, the new study, suggests that the two things are equally effective–at least when it comes to blood pressure response. In other words, the effect on blood pressure was just as powerful whether the partner was physically present or merely conjured mentally.

Further supporting Dr. Breggin's recent essays How Love Can Reform our Lives and Are Emotional Disorders Really Disorders of Love?

Antipsychotics cause short-term somatic serious adverse events

There is an increased risk for somatic serious adverse events (SAEs) with antipsychotic drug therapy compared with placebo, according to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, researchers included double-blind, single-blind, and open-label randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing second-generation antipsychotic drugs with placebo across any indications. [...]  These results indicate an increased risk for somatic and psychiatric SAEs for patients exposed to antipsychotic drugs. [...] The study researchers indicated that the risk for somatic SAEs with antipsychotics “is not negligible and there are possible under-estimations, but it might be acceptable in physically fit adults in disorders for which the individual antipsychotics are officially licensed (in particular schizophrenia), because substantial benefit from reduction of symptoms can be expected, and because there is statistical uncertainty as to whether the risk is increased. Individual patients sharing risk factors with the older population (eg, somatic comorbidities, polypharmacy, higher age), and possibly children and adolescents, can be more vulnerable.”

Poor air quality linked to bipolar disorder, depression

 An on-going study at the University of Utah looks into how pollutant particles in the air affects mental health in Utah. Amanda Bakian, an assistant professor of Psychiatry at the U, said she’s looked at multiple forms of data that shows there’s definitely an impact from either air pollutants, hypoxia and other mechanisms. [...] Langenecker and Bakian are looking into how the body reacts to inhaling that irritant—what they’re finding is it can lead to inflammation on the brain. “If we think of inflammation as the body’s response to a threat, the body is responding, the same way people respond typically when they get the flu,” said Langenecker. “They tend to feel a little bit less energy, tend to feel like they want to stay inside, maybe get a little bit dehydrated.”

Montreal researcher says new study suggests autism overdiagnosed

Autism has become so overdiagnosed that within five to 10 years there could be almost no difference between groups of people who have been diagnosed with the condition and those who haven’t, a Montreal researcher warns following the publication of a new study. A new meta-analysis published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry that analyzed 11 previous major studies carried out since 1966 found that individuals diagnosed with autism have become progressively less different from the general population. Laurent Mottron, a research psychiatrist at the mental health unit of the Riviere-des-Prairies Hospital and one of the study’s authors, said the gap could soon narrow to nothing. “Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people – really less and less, to the point where if the trend continues, we won’t be able to find the least difference within five or 10 years,” he said in an interview. [...] “Right now, a diagnosis of autism is what allows one to get services in schools,” he said. “When you have an autism diagnosis, you have much greater chances of getting all kinds of extra things compared to another condition, which is total nonsense, because the need for services is independent from a diagnosis.”

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 August 22, 2019

Science says people like you more than you know

What goes through your mind when you're meeting new people? Maybe you're centered and at peace with yourself, secure that you have value to bring to the conversation. Or perhaps, you're lasering into an almost imperceptible social guffaw you committed, convinced that your conversation partner would rather be undergoing surgery of the Achilles tendon from a shoddy doctor than talking to you. This type of self-critical thinking explains what's called the "liking gap." The liking gap describes how we systematically underestimate how much other people like us. In a study by Dr. Erica J. Boothby, at Cornell University, and her colleagues, the researchers asked people how much they liked one another after they interacted, across a variety of contexts: in the lab, in a college dorm, at a professional development workshop. It turns out that across all of these contexts, people's ratings of the degree to which they thought they were liked was less than the degree to which they were actually liked. This was true even for people with high self-esteem.

What 31,000+ personality tests say about differences between men and women

It's a debate as old as the study of psychology itself. Are men and women fundamentally different in the way they think, act, and feel? And, if so, exactly how different are they? New research published in the Journal of Personality takes the gender debate to a new level of statistical rigor. Examining over 21,000 personality tests from the United States and over 31,000 personality tests worldwide, a team of scientists led by Tim Kaiser of the University of Salzburg in Austria added new data (and lots of it) to an age-old question. [...] Here's what they found. First, examining the question of interrelations between dimensions of personality, the researchers found a high degree of similarity across gender. They write, "Invariance tests and indices of matrix similarity indicated that the correlational structure of personality was equivalent in the two sexes." Second, comparing men and women's responses on the 15 traits measured [...] The degree to which men and women differed on the personality traits measured was, according to the researchers, "considerably larger than commonly assumed." They write, "To put our results in perspective, [...] the personality profile of a randomly picked male will be more male‐typical than that of a randomly picked female about 93% of the time. Likewise, knowing the personality profile of an individual makes it possible to correctly guess his/her sex about 85% of the time."

What’s the upside of feeling insecure?

Show me someone completely devoid of insecure feelings and I’ll show you a pathological narcissist, hijacked by such defense mechanisms as denial, displacement, projection, and repression. To whatever degree, we all start out in life as insecure. And remnants of this insecurity remain even after we become adults. Consider that as children there’s so much we can’t yet do, haven’t yet learned, don’t yet understand. And so, if we're to get by on a daily basis,  we must depend on our family. That outward reliance gradually dissipates as we get older; develop our physical, mental, and emotional resources; and demonstrate an ever-increasing ability to function independently. Nonetheless, perhaps because we can never know everything and the world presents us with so many moving targets, a certain amount of humility about our capability (i.e., insecurity) is in order—vs. an overconfident, “know it all” attitude. [...] In short, being somewhat insecure increases the odds that you’ll act with foresight, discretion, and judiciousness. And, more than likely, succeed.

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 August 21, 2019

Alert 115: Inner Fire, a Drug-Free Healing Community on Dr. Breggin’s Radio Show

My guest today on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, at 4 pm NY time, is Beatrice Birch, director of Inner Fire in Brookline, Vermont.  Its mission statement is:  “Inner Fire is a proactive healing community offering a choice for adults to recover from debilitating and traumatic life challenges without the use of psychotropic medications.”   This will be very interesting!  Listen in and call in to comment or to ask questions. Alternatives like this are one of the hopes for the future.

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

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

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

Last week on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour - 08/14/19

This the 4th appearance of journalist and scientist Patrick Hahn on the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour.  He is an extraordinary analyst of the history of psychiatry and its current manifestations.  His new book, Madness and Genetic Determinism has a much broader and more dramatic sweep than the title suggests.  We talk about the era of Moral Therapy, Fried Fromm-Reichmann and Chestnut Lodge, and Loren Mosher’s Soteria House, as well as the utter failure of psychiatric genetics.  This is a show that anyone will enjoy and learn from about the good and the bad in psychiatry.

Brain aberration associated with the "therapeutic effect" of ECT

In patients with depression, increases in cortical thickness have been observed following the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), but these increases are transient. A longitudinal magnetic resonance (MRI) study (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03040388) on the subject was conducted in Denmark, with the results published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. [...] Immediately following a series of ECT sessions, significant increases were observed in the cortical thickness of 26 regions, primarily within the frontal, temporal, and insular cortex. At six-month follow-up, however, this thickness returned to baseline values. There were no significant decreases observed in cortical thickness. The increase in the thickness of the right lateral orbitofrontal cortex was linked to a significantly greater antidepressant effect (=.0005). In addition, none of the cortical regions demonstrated any relationships with cognitive adverse events. A major limitation of the present study is the fact that because of the small sample size, potential important effects of ECT may have gone unrecognized. Moreover, the lack of a control group makes it difficult to differentiate the effect of ECT from the effects of time, medication, and depression.

Grape compound 'may be alternative to drugs' in fight against depression

New research has revealed that the plant compound resveratrol, which is found in the skin and seeds of grapes and berries, blocked an enzyme that causes depression and anxiety in trials on mice. This compound, commonly found in red wine, "has numerous pharmacological properties including anti-stress and antidepressant-like abilities", reports the study. In particular, its newly discovered properties have to do with how it inhibits an enzyme called phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4). This specific enzyme is influenced by the stress hormone corticosterone, so affecting the enzyme could affect someone's mood. Ying Xu, MD, PhD, and co-lead author of the study believes this finding could be especially valuable for the medical community. She notes: “Resveratrol may be an effective alternative to drugs for treating patients suffering from depression and anxiety disorders.”

Stimulants impair sleep, working memory in healthy young adults

Healthy college students and other young adults who take prescription stimulants simply for a brain boost may be doing themselves a disservice, according to a new study that found nonprescribed stimulants barely improved short-term focus and markedly worsened working memory and sleep. “People who are taking these drugs to perform better in school or at work may feel as though they are doing better, but our data don’t support this feeling [...] Our research suggests that the purported enhancement to executive function from psychostimulants in healthy populations may be somewhat exaggerated, as we found only minor daytime improvement in attention and no benefit to working memory,” Dr. Mednick said. “In addition, we noted a large impairment to nighttime sleep, even though the medication was administered in the morning.” “Healthy individuals who use psychostimulants for cognitive enhancement may incur unintended costs to cognitive processes that depend on good sleep,” added lead author Lauren Whitehurst, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.

Ian's thoughts: those findings present a perfect demonstration of Dr. Breggin's thesis of intoxication anosognosia  (aka, medication spellbinding). People taking psychoactive drugs like stimulants can easily believe they are doing better, performing optimally, but outside their drug-induced perceptions they are actually not doing better. Instead, they are under the drug's self-deceiving 'spell', they are spellbound! So self-reports of improvement among psychiatric-drug users ought be taken with a grain of salt. 

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 August 20, 2019

Psychosocial approaches to schizophrenia with limited antipsychotic use

A recent study published in Schizophrenia Research identifies nine psychosocial interventions to treat people diagnosed with schizophrenia on minimal to no antipsychotic drugs. The authors, led by Ruth Cooper from the social and community psychiatry unit at Queen Mary University in London, conducted the first systematic review of the approaches but found mostly outdated studies with low-quality methods. The nine interventions reviewed include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Need Adapted Treatment, Soteria, Psychosocial Outpatient Treatment, Open Dialogue, Psychosocial Inpatient Treatment, Psychoanalysis/Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Major Role Therapy, and Milieu Treatment. “In conclusion, nine psychosocial interventions have been studied for patients on no/minimal antipsychotics,” the authors write. “The majority of studies reported outcomes for the intervention which were the same as the control group, however, study quality was problematic. Given the adverse effects of antipsychotics and that many people do not want to take them, high-quality trials of psychosocial treatments for people on minimal/no antipsychotics are needed.”

Adding Prozac to cognitive behavioral therapy for youth added no benefit

Background: Medication is commonly used to treat youth depression, but whether medication should be added to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as first-line treatment is unclear. We aimed to examine whether combined treatment with CBT and fluoxetine was more effective than CBT and placebo in youth with moderate-to-severe major depressive disorder. [...] Interpretation: We did not find evidence that the addition of fluoxetine (rather than placebo) to CBT further reduced depressive symptoms in young people with moderate-to-severe MDD. Exploratory analyses showed that the addition of medication might be helpful for patients with comorbid anxiety symptoms and for older youth.

Consumer Reports: Medications that make you sensitive to the sun

Sunburn, skin problems, dehydration… probably not what you signed up for this summer. But they are just some of the side effects that you might experience in the summer heat if you take over-the-counter drugs, like ibuprofen, allergy meds, or supplements like St. John’s Wort. [...]



Taking one or a combination of any of these medications, may increase your sensitivity to the sun. Other medications like certain diuretics can make you less thirsty or cause you to urinate more, which can increase your risk of dehydration. And some antidepressants can reduce your ability to sweat, making it difficult for your body to regulate its temperature properly.

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

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

News & Information for August 19, 2019

Effects of seclusion and restraint in adult psychiatry: a systematic review

Background: Determining the clinical effects of coercion is a difficult challenge, raising ethical, legal, and methodological questions. Despite limited scientific evidence on effectiveness, coercive measures are frequently used, especially in psychiatry. This systematic review aims to search for effects of seclusion and restraint on psychiatric inpatients with wider inclusion of outcomes and study designs than former reviews. [...] Conclusion: Heterogeneity of the included studies limited drawing clear conclusions, but the main results identified show negative effects of seclusion and restraint. These interventions should be used with caution and as a last resort. Patients' preferences should be taken into account when deciding to apply these measures. The therapeutic relationship could be a focus for improvement of effects and subjective perception of coercion. In terms of methodology, studying coercive measures remains difficult but, in the context of current research on coercion reduction, is needed to provide workable baseline data and potential targets for interventions. Well-conducted prospective cohort studies could be more feasible than randomized controlled trials for interventional studies.

No evidence for brain asymmetry in depression

A new study with thousands of participants has found no differences between people with a depression diagnosis and people classed as “healthy control subjects.” The study examined asymmetrical brain volume. Asymmetrical brain activation is common in humans and varies between individuals. For instance, right- or left-handedness and left-hemisphere use for language are common asymmetrical brain usage in humans.  Previously, researchers have theorized that brain asymmetry may be associated with the experience of depression.  Small studies have found slight effects suggesting that people with depression have more brain asymmetry in certain areas. In the current study, the researchers intended to clarify these inconclusive findings by conducting a study large and powerful enough to detect even minuscule differences in their analysis of MRI (brain scan) results. Their analysis, however, found no differences. “No significant differences of brain structural asymmetry were found between individuals with major depression and unaffected control subjects, for any cerebral cortical or subcortical asymmetry measure, in an unprecedented sample size of over 5,000 subjects.”

Study links fluoridated water during pregnancy to lower IQs

An influential medical journal published a study Monday that links fluoride consumption during pregnancy with lower childhood IQs—a finding that could undermine decades of public-health messaging, fire up conspiracy theorists, and alarm mothers-to-be. The research was expected to be so controversial that JAMA Pediatrics included an editor’s note saying the decision to publish it was not easy and that it was subjected to “additional scrutiny.” “We saw an association between prenatal fluoride exposure and lower IQ scores in children,” study author Rivky Green said. Specifically, they found a 1 mg per liter increase in concentration of fluoride in urine was associated with a 4.5 point decrease in IQ among boys, though not girls. Another translation: The boys of mothers with the most fluoride in the urine had IQs about 3 points lower than the boys of mothers with the least amount. [...] While medical organizations are not advising that pregnant women avoid fluoridated water—and the study has no implications for the use of fluoride after birth—Green believes the results are significant enough to warrant a change in behavior.

For coaches, anger more effective than positivity when it comes to halftime speeches

A new study finds that anger is actually more effective during halftime speeches than inspiration. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business analyzed hundreds of halftime speeches and final scores from high school and college basketball games, and found that players seem to perform better after a harsh, more negative halftime speech from their coach. In fact, researchers discovered a significant relationship between the level of negativity a coach projects during a halftime speech and second-half scoring outcomes. The more negativity, the more the team outscored their opponents, that is at least up to a certain threshold point. “That was even true if the team was already ahead at halftime,” lead researcher and Haas professor emeritus Barry Staw comments in a media release. “Rather than saying, ‘You’re doing great, keep it up,’ it’s better to say, ‘I don’t care if you’re up by 10 points, you can play better than this.’”

In Defense of Anger

As a culture, we have not made up our minds about anger and it’s pretty well destroying us. Men are permitted to be angry — mostly only if they’re white, even to the point of taking guns into every public place imaginable and murdering innocent people there; women are harshly criticized and dismissed as unstable for legitimate displays of anger that often amount to far less than what men display; children who get too angry are diagnosed with a personality disorder if they’re female-presenting and Oppositional Defiant Disorder if they’re male-presenting. “Where is the outrage?” accompanies more and more posts on social media that include articles on the latest atrocity, human rights violation or environmental disaster. Yet anger is not welcome in most interpersonal relationships; many people as children experienced traumatizing expressions of anger from their caregivers and are triggered into parasympathetic-driven responses when exposed to even healthy anger.

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

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

News & Information for August 17-18, 2019

ADHD medication may affect brain development in children

A drug used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appears to affect development of the brain’s signal-carrying white matter in children with the disorder, according to a study published in the journal Radiology. The same effects were not found in adults with ADHD. Methylphenidate (MPH), sold under trade names including Ritalin and Concerta, is a commonly prescribed treatment for ADHD that is effective in up to 80 percent of patients. However, not much is known about its effect on the development of the brain, including the brain’s white matter, which is important for learning and brain functions and coordinating communication between different brain regions. To find out more about MPH’s effects on white matter development, Dutch researchers performed a study of 50 boys and 49 young adult men diagnosed with ADHD. All patients were medication-naïve — that is, they had never received MPH prior to the study. “Previous studies all have tried to statistically control for the effects of ADHD medications,” said study senior author Liesbeth Reneman, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. “But we are the first to study medication-naïve patients in this context, which, of course, is crucial if you want to know how ADHD medications affect the developing brain.”

Exercise your blues away

Exercise is good medicine for depression, researchers report. "The evidence of the use of physical activity and exercise for the management of depression is substantial and growing fast," said study authors [...] "Despite this substantial evidence, the incorporation of exercise as a key component in treatment is often inconstant and often given a low priority," they added. [...] In the review, the researchers analyzed 49 studies that included a total of nearly 267,000 people and concluded that physical activity reduces the risk of depression by 17%, after adjustment for other factors. They also examined another 25 studies that included a total of nearly 1,500 people with depression and found that physical activity had a "very large and significant antidepressant effect," according to the report. [...] There "is growing recognition that lifestyle behaviors, such as physical activity and exercise, partially contribute to the risk of developing depression and can be useful strategies for treating depression, reducing depressive symptoms, improving quality of life, and improving health outcomes," Schuch and Stubbs said in a journal news release. 

Systematic review: The role of exercise in preventing and treating depression

Conclusions PA [physical activity] can confer protection from the development of depression in children, adults, and older adults. These effects are evident in all continents. Also, among people with depression, exercise can be used for acutely managing symptoms. Also, a robust body of evidence from randomized controlled trials demonstrates that exercise is effective in treating depression. Exercise has multiple benefits to several domains of physical and mental health and should be promoted to everyone. However, the use of moderators/predictors (e.g., biological, clinical, psychological, social) and composed in response should be considered to deal with patients’ and professionals’ expectations and to maximize success chance. Dropouts to exercise are a challenge for all clinical populations, which is not different from people with depression. However, adherence imposes a challenge to all other treatments. To keep exercise adherence, autonomous motivation may play a central role. Social support can be critical, and the supervision of exercise professionals can increase the chance of adherence and success to the treatment.

Ritalin may cause stuttering

Methylphenidate (MPH) is a piperidine similar to amphetamines, and is indicated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Studies concerning stuttering occurring with methylphenidate are contradictory. We investigated the association between methylphenidate and stuttering. We analyzed reports in the World Health Organization global individual case safety reports database, Vigibase, up to 31 December 2018, with the MedDRA Preferred Term "dysphemia" and the Lower Level Terms "stutter" and "stuttering". The association between exposure to MPH and occurrence of the adverse drug reaction was estimated by disproportionality analysis. Reporting Odds Ratios (ROR) were calculated with 95% Confidence Intervals (CIs). In total, 2,975 cases of dysphemia were reported, of which 46 reports were associated with MPH. For the PT "dysphemia", the ROR was 7.3 (95% CI: 5.4-9.8). With the LLT "stuttering", 584 cases were registered in the database of which 17 involved MPH. The ROR was 13.9 (95% CI: 8.6-22.5). This study found a signal for stuttering with methylphenidate.

Complex effects of lifetime cannabis use on schizophrenia 

Background: Data on associations between cannabis use and psychopathology, cognition and functional impairment in schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) is controversial. Objectives: To examine the effect of cannabis on psychopathology, cognition and real-world functioning in SSD patients. Methods: Naturalistic cross-sectional study, 123 clinically stable SSD outpatients. [...] Conclusions: Lifetime cannabis use is associated with better working memory and processing speed and worse real-world functioning in the area of socially useful activities in patients with schizophrenia-related disorders. Clinicians should, therefore, be aware of it to provide patient-centered care in their daily clinical practice.

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 August 16, 2019

Are dogs or cats better at curing loneliness?

A new study has just come out of Germany which addresses the issue of whether cats and dogs have the same effect in warding off loneliness among seniors. [...] the researchers restricted their analysis to individuals older than 65 years who were living alone because their spouse was deceased, they were divorced or separated, or just by themselves. [...] When you look at the results for feelings of loneliness, it turns out that the loneliest people are individuals who do not own pets and, just as in the case of social isolation, the researchers found that simply owning a cat does not reduce these feelings. Dog ownership, however, does decrease feelings of loneliness significantly in women, although only marginally for men. [...] So, to summarize the findings, it appears that having a dog as a pet can reduce the sense of social isolation and loneliness in seniors who are living without the companionship of another human being—while having a pet cat does not appear to provide the same benefits.

Moral Masculinity: Testosterone May Actually Make People More Sensitive To Moral Norms

The role that hormones play in decision making has been debated for years and years. Many believe that testosterone, the main sex hormone found in males, causes aggression, and cold immoral decisions. Interestingly, a new study out of Texas finds that testosterone may have a more complicated relationship with morals than previously thought. Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin say that testosterone supplements actually made people more inclined to make more traditionally moral decisions, a finding that is largely in contrast to all previous studies involving testosterone and ethics. “There’s been an increasing interest in how hormones influence moral judgments in a fundamental way by regulating brain activity,” explains Bertram Gawronski, a psychology professor at UT Austin, in a statement. “To the extent that moral reasoning is at least partly rooted in deep-seated biological factors, some moral conflicts might be difficult to resolve with arguments.” [...] “The current work challenges some dominant hypotheses about the effects of testosterone on moral judgments,” Gawronski concludes. “Our findings echo the importance of distinguishing between causation and correlation in research on neuroendocrine determinants of human behavior, showing that the effects of testosterone supplements on moral judgments can be opposite to association between naturally occurring testosterone and moral judgments.”

Dayton gunman was on cocaine, antidepressants and alcohol, coroner says

The Montgomery County, Ohio, coroner announced Thursday that the gunman identified in the mass shooting in Dayton earlier this month had cocaine and other drugs in his system at the time of the shooting, The Associated Press reported. Dr. Kent Harshbarger added during a press conference that a bag of cocaine was found on the body of Connor Betts, the alleged shooter. Betts also reportedly tested positive for alcohol and antidepressants. Police say Betts, 24, killed nine people, including his sibling, before he was shot and killed by police at the scene. A friend of the suspected gunman who "indicated he purchased body armor and a firearm accessory for Betts" is now facing federal charges partially linked to his drug use.

Toxic Pssychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry - by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for August 15, 2019

DNA test for antidepressants raises FDA doubts; myriad drops

A company that helped pioneer genetic tests used to diagnose and treat disease lost more than 40% of its value on Wednesday, after U.S. regulators raised questions about whether a DNA test that’s key to the firm’s growth can help personalize the prescribing of antidepressant drugs. [...] But some psychiatrists have pushed back as the tests have come to market, citing a lack of evidence. In a review published last year, a task a task force of the American Psychiatric Association’s research council concluded that such genetic testing is promising, but not ready for prime time. [...] “The FDA reached out to several firms marketing such pharmacogenetic tests where the FDA believes the relationship between genetic variations and the medication’s effects has not been established,” the company said in the filing. Myriad declined to comment further.

Electroconvulsive therapy given without proper authorisation at Royal Darwin Hospital

A young Aboriginal woman received two rounds of electroconvulsive therapy at the Royal Darwin Hospital without the proper authorisation, according to a report from the Health and Community Services Complaints Commission. The patient — referred to as AB — received four courses of the controversial therapy over a period of eight days. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used to treat certain psychiatric conditions, and involves passing a controlled electric current through the brain, affecting brain activity and aiming to relieve severe psychotic and depressive symptoms. AB was admitted to the Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) for involuntary mental health treatment in December 2016. She was from a remote community, did not speak English as a first language, and had a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

How overeating changes the brain

Are you wondering if this afternoon’s cheesecake is going to change your body? While most of us imagine it changing our waistline, few wonder whether it also changes the brain. But it does, and a recently published study (Rossi, 2019) shows us how.  The idea that the brain influences nearly everything we do should not be surprising; whom we like, how we feel, and even what we eat is affected by brain activity. Lying deep at the base of our brain lives a group of cells that comprise the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus orchestrates control over several behaviors related to the survival of the species; behaviors that, as I often tell my students, comprise the four F’s of hypothalamic regulation — fighting, fleeing, feeding, and mating.

Study: Sharing your dreams with others boosts emotional intelligence

Dream-sharing might be the epitome of conversational narcissism. To most, (I included) the urgent relation of the “crazy dream” you had last night acidly suggests that unlike our mundane mind movies, the bulk of which are chaotic repurposed footage of random activity from the spinal cord and cerebellum during sleep, your dreams are uniquely compelling enough to pardon a dramatic retelling in the breakroom. More than this, dreams are neurologically designed to feel emotionally impactful to the experiencer, what with their ancestral allusions of danger, and particularities specifically tailored to our unique psyches-your Aunt’s  Coo-coo clock cameo has very little relevance to anyone else, unfortunately.  While studies have proven that all and any of these elements often ensure dream talk feels like meandering exposition to listeners, a new study argues that the execution matters quite a bit.

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

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

News & Information for August 14, 2019

Alert 114: The History of Psychiatry on Dr. Breggin’s Radio Show

Today at 4 pm is the 4th appearance of journalist and scientist Patrick Hahn on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour.  He is an extraordinary analyst of the history of psychiatry and its current manifestations.  His new book, Madness and Genetic Determinism has a much broader and more dramatic sweep than the title suggests.  From the moment I picked it up, I started learning, including chapters on the era of Moral Therapy, Fried Fromm-Reichmann and Chestnut Lodge, and Loren Mosher’s Soteria House.  The chapter on Trauma and Psychosis is stunning and makes the book worthwhile in itself.    If you miss the live show, watch it on the archives. 

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

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

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

ADHD drugs alter structure of children's brains, scans reveal

Scans of children with ADHD taking methylphenidate, best known as Ritalin, showed significant changes in the distribution of white matter, which is important for learning and coordinating communication between regions of the brain. The difference between these children and other ADHD sufferers given a placebo was apparent after just four months. A similar trial on adults showed no white matter changes between the methylphenidate and placebo participants, suggesting the brain is vulnerable to structural change while developing. The study’s authors warned that the long-term consequences of Ritalin on the brain are unknown, saying the medication should only be given to children who are significantly affected by ADHD. [...] None had ever taken methylphenidate before [...] MRI scans before and after the four-month period showed differences in the left hemisphere of the brain, including roughly a doubling of fractional anisotropy,  which reflects aspects of white matter such as nerve fiber density, size and myelination - the process of coating nerve fibers. Many ADHD patients are on Ritalin and other medications for years, despite their being little knowledge about its long-term effect on the brain.

Popular ADHD drugs Ritalin, Concerta may change structure of children’s brains, study finds

MPH is usually prescribed and sold under the names Ritalin or Concerta, and while it has been shown to be effective in treating ADHD, there hasn’t been enough research performed on how it influences the development of children’s brains. More specifically, researchers from the University of Amsterdam set out to analyze MPH’s impact on children’s white matter development. White matter carries signals between different areas of the brain and is an integral part of learning and overall brain functioning. In order to do this, researchers gathered 50 boys and 49 adult men, all of whom had been diagnosed with ADHD. None of the participants had taken MPH at all prior to the study. “Previous studies all have tried to statistically control for the effects of ADHD medications,” explains study senior author Dr. Liesbeth Reneman in a release. “But we are the first to study medication-naïve patients in this context, which, of course, is crucial if you want to know how ADHD medications affect the developing brain.” [...] While the long-term implications of these findings are still unclear, researchers say the results clearly indicate that MPH influences the development of brain structure in children. Moving forward, Dr. Reneman and his team stress that giving a young child ADHD medication should not be a decision that both doctors and parents make lightly. They recommend that only children who definitively suffer from the disorder, and are significantly affected by it on a daily basis, be prescribed medication.

Here's the press release about this study from the Radiological Society, the publisher. Ian's thoughts: What's important to understand is that this is the first study to look at the brains of medication-naïve subjects first, then initiate methylphenidate (Ritalin), and then look at the same brains after 4 months of use. So this is the first Ritalin study in history to be able to definitively identify Ritalin as a cause of changes to brain structure. To think, after so many years on the market this was finally done, and the results are troubling, to say the least.

To really learn, our children need the power of play

Finnish parents and teachers widely agree on several mantras rarely heard in U.S. schools: “Let children be children” and “The work of a child is to play.” A Finnish mother told William, “Here, you’re not considered a good parent unless you give your child lots of outdoor play.” Finnish children learn to take responsibility and manage risks at very young ages, in school and out. Following local customs, William’s 7-year-old son learned to walk to school by himself, across six street crossings and two busy main roads. One day, on a forest path, William came upon a delighted Finnish father applauding his 6-year-old daughter as she scrambled up a tall tree—to a height that would have petrified many parents around the world. “If she falls and breaks her arm, it will be in a good cause. She will have learned something,” the father said nonchalantly. In Finland, William experienced an education culture that protects and cherishes childhood, one in which students are immersed in a play-rich education that goes all the way to high school. At his son’s school, William saw children rush to the cafeteria in stocking feet, giggling, hugging and practicing dance steps. Students got a 15-minute outdoor recess every single hour of the school day, rain or shine. “There are many reasons children must play in school,” explained the school’s principal, Heikki Happonen. “When they are moving, their brains work better. Then they concentrate more in class. It’s very important in social ways too.” He added, “School should be a child’s favorite place.”

Candid questions about biological psychiatry

I am old enough to remember when psychiatry became biological psychiatry. I have lived long enough to witness the fading of the once lustrous biological psychiatry. I always wanted biological psychiatry to succeed since I have seen the suffering of many patients. Yet over time I have rejected its deceptions about chemical imbalances and its rigid ideology about biological causation. [...] We should be clear about an important fact. The chemical imbalance idea never had any evidence, and yet it was embraced as a strong marketing message many years ago. The idea has not really been rejected decades later by psychiatry or the pharmaceutical industry, despite a total lack of evidence.  [...] I am not claiming expertise to resolve any of the issues I have raised. I am only asking that we openly discuss two things: 1) the historical failure of a biological model as the primary causation for behavioral health disorders, and 2) a robust evaluation and debate regarding the clinical efficacy of antidepressants in the treatment of depression.

Study: social media use may harm teens’ mental health by disrupting positive activities

Social media use has been linked to depression, especially in teenage girls. But a new study argues that the issue may be more complex than experts think. The research, published Tuesday in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, involved interviews with almost 10,000 children between the ages of 13 and 16 in England. The researchers found that social media may harm girls’ mental health by increasing their exposure to bullying and reducing their sleep and physical exercise. “Our results suggest that social media itself doesn’t cause harm, but that frequent use may disrupt activities that have a positive impact on mental health such as sleeping and exercising, while increasing exposure of young people to harmful content, particularly the negative experience of cyber-bullying,” study co-author Russell Viner of the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said in a statement.

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 August 13, 2019

Craig Wiener – ADHD: A Return to Psychology

On MIA Radio this week, in the first of a number of podcasts focussed on parenting issues, we interview Dr. Craig Wiener, a licensed psychologist based in Worcester, Massachusetts, who specializes in the treatment of children, adolescents, and families.

In addition to over 30 years of private practice, Dr. Wiener is an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Wiener is the author of three books, most recently Parenting Your Child with ADHD: A No-Nonsense Guide for Nurturing Self-Reliance and Cooperation. Earlier this year he debuted his three-part video series “ADHD: A Return to Psychology,” which appears on the Mad in America website and also on YouTube.

Dr. Wiener also appeared on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, August 13, 2012.

Time your showers and baths for better sleep

In a meta-analysis of related studies published in the August 2019 issue of Sleep Medicine Reviews, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin, in collaboration with researchers at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and University of Southern California, have found that the timing of your evening bath or shower can help increase your chance of both falling asleep faster and enjoying better quality sleep. The scientists sorted through more than 5,000 related research papers and came up with 13 that qualified for their purposes of determining the effects of heating the body with water on the timing and quality of sleep. They found that taking a bath or shower approximately 90 minutes before going to bed helped participants fall asleep an average of ten minutes sooner than usual. Keeping the water at temperatures ranging from 104 to 109°F improved overall sleep quality. 

Social contact during midlife appears to lower dementia risk

There is need to identify targets for preventing or delaying dementia. Social contact is a potential target for clinical and public health studies, but previous observational studies had short follow-up, making findings susceptible to reverse causation bias. We therefore examined the association of social contact with subsequent incident dementia and cognition with 28 years’ follow-up. [...] Findings from this study suggest a protective effect of social contact against dementia and that more frequent contact confers higher cognitive reserve, although it is possible that the ability to maintain more social contact may be a marker of cognitive reserve. Future intervention studies should seek to examine whether improving social contact frequency is feasible, acceptable, and efficacious in changing cognitive outcomes.

Prescription drug misuse common in high schoolers

Misuse of prescription drugs is common among high school students, and those misusing prescription drugs frequently obtain them from multiple sources, according to two studies published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. [...] "The implications from these two studies could not be clearer," McCabe said in a statement. "Parents, public health experts, and clinicians must rally to address this problem. There is a critical need for clinical workforce training to support clinic and school-based education, screening, prevention, and early intervention."

Researchers are working on a pill for loneliness, as studies suggest the condition is worse than obesity

The volunteers at the University of Chicago’s Brain Dynamics Laboratory, all otherwise young and healthy, were tied together by really only one thing: nearly off-the-chart scores on the most widely used scale measuring loneliness. Asked how often they felt they had no one they could turn to, how often they felt their relationships seemed superficial and forced, how often they felt alone, left out, isolated or no longer closer to anyone, the answer, almost always, was “always.” The volunteers agreed to be randomly dosed over eight weeks with either pregnenolone, a hormone naturally produced by the body’s adrenal gland, or a placebo. Two hours after swallowing the assigned tablet, the university’s researchers captured and recorded their brain activity while the participants looked at pictures of emotional faces or neutral scenes. Studies in animals suggest that a single injection of pregnenolone can reduce or “normalize” an exaggerated threat response in socially isolated lab mice, similar to the kind of hyper vigilance lonely people feel that makes them poor at reading other people’s intentions and feelings. The researchers have every hope the drug will work in lonely human brains, too, although they insist the goal is not an attempt to cure loneliness with a pill.

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

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

News & Information for August 12, 2019

Physical exercise is an important preventative medicine for depression

Scientific studies show that even a little exercise reduces the risk. Many scientific studies have shown the importance of physical activity in preventing and treating depression, the most common mental illness in western society. According to a study [...] depression can be prevented long-term through physical exercise, and this is applicable for people of all ages, from young people to the elderly [...] The researchers collected data from 49 different studies involving 266,939 people without mental illness to see if physical exercise led to a reduced risk of developing depression. This group of people, with a practically equal distribution between the sexes, was monitored for more than seven years, at the end of which surprising results were seen: compared to people who engaged in little physical exercise, people who engaged in 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week showed a significantly lower probability of developing depression during the period of the study.

Study suggests pathological gaming is a symptom of problems, not a unique mental disease

Some people play video games so much that it results in significant problems in their social relationships and daily functioning — a situation known as pathological gaming. But new research conducted in Seoul suggests that the games themselves might not be the primary source of the problem. “I’d been interested in the topic for awhile — research on pathological gaming actually goes back a couple decades, [...] “Our study was conducted with Korean youth. In South Korea, there is particular pressure socially to succeed academically. Our evidence suggests that pathological gaming doesn’t originate so much from exposure to games, but through a combination of academic pressure and parental pressure,” Ferguson told PsyPost. “This causes stress and a loss of self-control, wherein youth use games as an escape from their stress. Rather than thinking of pathological gaming as a disease caused by video games, we might be better to think about it as symptomatic of a larger structural, social and family problem within a person’s life.”

Antidepressants and the national suicide epidemic

Two recent news items highlight the role of so-called “antidepressants” in our national epidemic of suicide. On July 24, a meta-analysis of RCT data for fourteen antidepressants showed that these drugs caused a near-tripling of completed suicides compared to placebo.1 In the world of clinical medicine, an odds ratio of almost three hundred percent normally would be considered huge. If, for some perverse reason, the drug companies wanted to tout their wares as suicide enhancers, these data would be considered overwhelming evidence that these nostrums are effective at doing just that. The other item, just nine days later, was the death of Saoirse Kennedy Hill, twenty-two years of age, who was pronounced dead of an apparent drug overdose after being found unresponsive at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.2 A headline noted that she had “battled depression.”3

Disturbing rise in teens needing glasses blamed on excessive screen time

So many people, especially young people and teenagers, spend a significant period of time each day staring at a screen of some kind, whether that be a computer, smartphone, tablet, or the regular old TV. Now, a new study is warning parents that all that screen time may be behind a stunning rise in children who need prescription glasses. According to the report released by United Kingdom-based eye care company Scrivens Opticians, the percentage of 13-16 year olds in the U.K. who need glasses has nearly doubled over the past seven years — from 20% in 2012 to 35% in 2018. Two-thirds of those teens were diagnosed as being myopic, or short-sighted. [...] “Children’s eyes continue to grow until early adulthood, and their vision is changing too,” comments Sheena Mangat, an optometrist with Scrivens, in a statement. “Because conditions such as short or long sightedness can happen gradually over time, neither children nor parents can ‘see the signs’, which is why regular eye checks are so important.”

What TV binge-watching does to your brain, and how to counter it

Binge-watching episodes of your favorite shows does no favors for your brain, an expert warns. "It's important to recognize that the brain is not an isolated organ -- it responds to its environment," said Dr. Randall Wright, a neurologist at Houston Methodist in Texas. "When we binge-watch, we create an unhealthy environment for the brain because we're sitting for long periods of time, isolating ourselves from social activities and eating large amounts of unhealthy food." Wright likens the instant gratification of watching episode after episode of a show to wanting to continue gambling even after you win. If you indulge often, this cycle and the side effects of binge-watching can lead to harmful brain and body changes, he said in a hospital news release. In other words, it's a problem when watching a third, fourth or fifth episode of your favorite show replaces healthy activities, he said. [...] "If you incorporate these tips into your binge-watching routine," he concluded, "You can create lasting healthy habits and still enjoy the occasional binge-watching session without hurting your brain."

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 August 10-11, 2019

Girl became obsessed with death after starting Prozac | A Current Affair

Susy Parker was alarmed when her young daughter became fascinated with death, just weeks after starting new medication to manage her anxiety and behavioral problems. Seren, 7, had been diagnosed with ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder and anxiety. "She would ask 'if I jumped off this bridge now and I died, what would happen? What would happen if I you know, put my hands into the garage door?'" Ms Parker told A Current Affair

NY governor suggests creating a database of people with mental illness

In the wake of two deadly mass shootings, gun-control advocate and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked Democrat presidential candidates to pledge that they would accept his state’s strict gun laws. [...] Cuomo also appeared on local radio and news stations to discuss his pledge. In an interview with WXXI public radio in Rochester, Cuomo slightly expanded on his proposal for a mental health database by saying it would prevent some people with mental health issues from obtaining firearms. [...] Similar due process issues would exist for a mental health database. It’s reminiscent of another secretive government database — the “no fly” list — which removes due process from those who are on it (who are mostly Muslims). A mental health database would act in a similar way and prevent people from exercising their Second Amendment rights without the ability to defend themselves once they have been diagnosed. If one thinks only the most extreme cases where mental health professionals have determined a person is a danger to themselves or others would be banned from purchasing firearms, consider the possibility that professionals are also human, make mistakes, and may deem someone a danger out of fear they may someday be wrong.

Does Vitamin D supplementation reduce ADHD symptoms?

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the benefits and harms of vitamin D supplementation in patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). To investigate these outcomes, study authors searched various clinical databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) where vitamin D supplementation was used alone or as an adjunctive therapy in ADHD patients. [...] “We found that vitamin D supplementation may alleviate ADHD symptoms, which were supported by improvements in ADHD total scores, inattention scores, hyperactivity scores, and behavior scores,” the authors stated. However, they added, statistically significant improvements in oppositional measures were not observed. 

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy found superior to antidepressants

The quality of evidence for the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments for clinical depression was found to be generally low for all but two therapies investigated in a recent systematic review. [...] Of the total 3582 articles that were identified in the search, 26 meta-analyses were included in the review; the meta-analyses included between 1 and 49 RCTs involving 40 to 7104 adult patients. Results showed that only two treatments, St. John’s wort and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, were associated with moderate quality evidence. “Moderate-quality evidence suggested the efficacy, comparative effectiveness to standard antidepressants and safety of St. John’s wort on depression severity and response rates,” the authors stated, adding that evidence related to remission and relapse rates was observed to be of lower quality. Results also showed that in patients with recurrent major depression, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was found to be superior to standard antidepressant treatment for prevention of depression relapse.

Violent video games factor in violent behavior but not seen as sole cause

Psychologists who specialize in studying violence, aggression and violence in the media agree any claims that violent video games do not teach violent behavior ignore decades-old knowledge about the brain. “What we know about the brain and what your grandmother knew about the brain is that practice makes perfect,” said Douglas Gentile, an award-winning researcher and professor of developmental psychology at Iowa State University. “You practice, you get better. Can you stop that? No. There is no possible way to not learn from practicing something over and over again.” [...] Bushman and his colleagues found that kids who had watched the violent, gun-involved video game spent about three times longer holding the handgun, and that they pulled the trigger with the gun pointed at themselves or each other three times more than kids who watched nonviolent video games.

Staying hydrated can help your mental health, research shows

Hydration is so important for so many reasons; it quenches thirst, keeps your body running smoothly, and gives you a reason to get up from your desk and get your steps in on your way to the water cooler. But you might not know that studies show staying hydrated can help your mental health, too. Mental health is physical health, after all. I’ve personally seen the power that water has in this area. Once, when a friend of mine and I were having about our experiences with mental health, they told me, “Whenever I feel depressed or anxious, I just drink a glass of water. Most of the time that fixes it.” [...] A 2018 study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry found that, among a sample of 3,327 Iranian adults, drinking five or more glasses of plain water daily was associated with a lower risk of depression. For participants who drank two glasses of water or less daily, they had an increased risk for depression (73% increase for men and 54% increase for women). A 2014 study analyzing the water intake and mood of 52 adults published in PLOS One showed that increasing water intake (2.4 liters of water or more a day) decreased feelings of fatigue, confusion, and sleepiness. People who drank that amount were happier and more positive than those who didn’t.

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 August 9, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Show - August 7, 2019

Scientist Thomas Moore joins me to talk about psychiatric drugs both in a very general way about why they do so little good and so much harm, and in very specific ways about drugs that affect the neurotransmitter GABA including Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta, as well as Lyrica and Neurontin and all the benzodiazepines.  Find out if there is such a thing as sleep driving and sleep sex caused by Ambien and similar drugs. If you or a loved one are taking these sedative drugs for sleep or anxiety or other purposes, this discussion may provide you information that you can usefully pursue further.   A valuable hour!

Optimistic people sleep better, longer, study finds

People who are the most optimistic tend to be better sleepers, a study of young and middle-aged adults found. More than 3,500 people ages 32-51 were included in the study sample. The participants included people in Birmingham, Alabama; Oakland, California; Chicago; and Minneapolis. The research was led by Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois. "Results from this study revealed significant associations between optimism and various characteristics of self-reported sleep after adjusting for a wide array of variables, including socio-demographic characteristics, health conditions and depressive symptoms," Hernandez said. [...] "The lack of healthy sleep is a public health concern, as poor sleep quality is associated with multiple health problems, including higher risks of obesity, hypertension and all-cause mortality," Hernandez said. "Dispositional optimism -- the belief that positive things will occur in the future -- has emerged as a psychological asset of particular salience for disease-free survival and superior health." 

New study reveals the secret to dealing with anxiety

At they’re best, these medications are near-perfect quick-fixes for when you suddenly recall the concept of death in the middle of a date or decide you have stage 4 esophageal cancer during a board meeting, but the behavioral tendency to placate bleak digressions will invariably return. In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians reports that benzodiazepines lose their therapeutic anti-anxiety effect after 4 to 6 months of habitual use. Thankfully, a new pioneering paper volunteers an inspired solution. Penn State researchers Lucas LaFreniere and Professor Michelle Newman set out to determine how perspective attenuated the psychological carnage of general anxiety disorders. Over the course of 10 days, the authors instructed 29 participants who suffer from anxiety to write down all of their most pressing worries,  review them every night, and then survey how severe each of these worries was compared to the others. Twenty days later each subject was asked how many of there purported concerns came true. The authors wrote, “Primary results revealed that 91.4% of worry predictions did not come true. Higher percentages of untrue worries significantly predicted lower GAD [General Anxiety Disorder] symptoms after treatment, as well as a greater slope of symptom reduction from pre- to post-trial. The most common percentage of untrue worries per person was 100%. Thus, worries in those with GAD were mostly inaccurate. Greater evidence of this inaccuracy predicted greater improvement in treatment. As theorized, disconfirming false expectations may significantly contribute to treatment’s effect.”

Plant-Based Diet Linked to Lower Rates of All-Cause Mortality, Cardiovascular Disease

A new study is adding more credibility to those who support switching to plant-based diet for the improvement of heart health. 

 Results from the National Institute of Health-sponsored study revealed those who ate the most plant-based food had a 16% lower risk of having cardiovascular disease (CVD), 32% lower risk of dying from CVD, and 25% lower risk of all-cause mortality. “Our findings underscore the importance of focusing on your diet,” said lead investigator Casey Rebholz, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Medicine. “There might be some variability in terms of individual foods, but to reduce cardiovascular disease risk people should eat more vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruits, legumes and fewer animal-based foods. [...] Our findings underscore the importance of focusing on your diet,” Rebholz said. “There might be some variability in terms of individual foods, but to reduce cardiovascular disease risk people should eat more vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruits, legumes and fewer animal-based foods.”

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 August 8, 2019

Try this neuroscience-based technique to shift your mindset from negative to positive (in 30 seconds)

You just got off the phone with one of your most important clients. The game-changing deal you were trying to close is off. They're not interested. You've just pitched ten potential investors. They all say they're "interested" but it's been two weeks. You refresh your inbox hourly, and yet still no word. How do you react in these situations? If you're like most people, your mind floods with negativity. "Maybe our product sucks," "Why can't I just get a break?" or "Maybe there's something wrong with me." Neuroscientists have a name for this automatic habit of the brain: "the negativity bias." It's an adaptive trait of human psychology that served us well when we were hunting with spears on the savanna 120,000 years ago. In modern times, however, this habit of the brain leaves us reacting to a harsh email or difficult conversation like our life was in danger. It activates a cascade of stress hormones and leaves us fixated on potential threats, unable to see the bigger picture. Neuroscientist Rick Hanson has a great analogy for this strange quality of the mind. "Your brain," he writes in his book Buddha's Brain, "is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones." When you lose a client, when the investors don't come calling, or when you face the hundreds of other daily disappointments of life, you're wired to forget all the good things and to instead obsess over the negative. How can we reverse this hard-wired habit of the mind? Three words: Notice, Shift, Rewire. 

Dark chocolate for depression? Science says 'Yes'

The new research, published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, was the first of its kind to investigate the relationship between depression and the type of chocolate study participants consumed. The study divided its 13,626 American participants into three groups: those who ate no chocolate, those who ate dark chocolate, and those who ate non-dark chocolate. The ones who ate dark chocolate were 70% less likely to report depressive symptoms than non-chocolate eaters. Also, the 25% who consumed the most chocolate (of any kind—dark or non-dark) were less apt to report depressive symptoms than non-chocolate consumers in general. But for the non-dark chocolate group as a whole, the researchers say there was no significant link to clinically relevant depressive symptoms. But how much dark chocolate should you eat per day? As with anything in a healthy diet, moderation is key. Another study found that people who ate 6 grams of dark chocolate per day had a reduced risk of heart disease(yep, another chocolate benefit!)—so that’s a good place to start. But remember, 6 grams is actually not much at all—it’s about half a square of a typical chocolate bar. That said, if you’re trying to make dark chocolate a daily treat, savoring a square or two after dinner is probably fine.

‘Yoga therapy saved my sanity, and life’

Thankfully, yoga, through breathwork and meditation, saved me. It has since become my mission to ensure everyone understands that firstly, the way you breathe has the power to enhance (or negatively impact) your health, and secondly that the breath, mindfulness and meditation are all part of yoga – and these life changing tools are accessible to everyone. However, not all yogic practices are good for everyone and the wrong practices can actually be dangerous. [...] Yoga, particularly the breath, meditation and philosophical practices, is within the reach of every single person reading this article - no matter your age, health, colour, class or physical ability. And my personal belief is that the breath is where all of the 49 per cent of people practicing yoga are doing so to address specific health challenges.

Study: sub-concussive hits cause minor brain damage in college athletes

The study, supported by grants from the NFL Charities and National Institutes of Health, involved 38 University of Rochester players whose brains were scanned in an MRI machine before and after a football season in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Accelerometers were also placed in their helmets to measure accelerative force in every practice and game. The players experienced nearly 20,000 hits across all practices and games, according to the study. [...] The results showed that, while only two players sustained clinically diagnosed concussions over the observed seasons, the comparison of the pre- and postseason MRIs showed more than two-thirds of the players experienced reduced the integrity of white matter – rigid brain tissue that serves as a connector to grey matter in the brain and damage to which causes disconnections among neurons, affecting perceptual speed and executive functioning – with more loss correlating with the number of head hits endured. Further, hits that caused the head to twist were more damaging than head-on hits, according to the study, published in the journal Science Advances.

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 August 7, 2019

Alert 113: Senior Scientist on Dr. Breggin's Radio Show

Thomas J. Moore, senior scientist, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, is my guest on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour today, 4 pm NY time.  He  will be talking about two of the most widely used sedative drugs, Zolpidem (Ambien) and gabapentin (Neurontin), and related medications. Listen live at www.prn.fm and call in to ask questions at 888-874-4888.   Tom Moore is an outstanding guest who conducts some of the very best research on adverse drug effects.

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

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

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

Girl, 7, who became 'obsessed with death' when prescribed anti-depressants

A young girl became obsessed with death and knives when she was prescribed anti-depressants - and was then medicated with drugs used to sedate violent criminals.  Seren, who moved to Perth from the UK with her parents, was seven years old when she was diagnosed with ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder and anxiety. She was initially prescribed Ritalin to help manage her ADHD, before taking Prozac to treat her severe panic attacks. Her parents, Susy and Karl Parker, became distressed when they noticed their young child's behaviour change as the drugs took affect. She would ask ''if I jumped off this bridge now and I died, what would happen? What would happen if I put my hands into the garage door'',' Ms Parker, told A Current Affair on Tuesday. 'Just continue the medication and she'll be fine,' the health professionals advised. Seren's behaviour spiralled even further when a paediatrician prescribed her with another form of medication. [...] Seren's parents decided to risk taking her off all her medication and said they saw positive results almost immediately. When the couple decided to treat their daughter's health problems with nutrition and exercise, Seren's concentration improved overnight. [...] The results, they said, were remarkable. 'Her school told us they were seeing a completely different child' [...] She now has the ability to focus in school and is a budding horse rider and self-taught contortionist. Mrs Parker said she has developed an interest in helping homeless people in the community.

Psychology Today: TV, video games ‘encourage kids to use guns’

When President Trump cited violence in media and video games as a driver of mass shootings like those last weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, he was met with mockery by critics. But a newly published Ohio State University [ study reported in Psychology Today] said that there is a direct link to the gun violence children see and their use of guns. [...] “The results showed that children who played the video game with guns handled it longer (91.5 seconds vs. 71.7 seconds in the sword condition and 36.1 seconds in the nonviolent condition), pulled the trigger more times (10.1 times vs. 3.6 times in the sword condition and 3.0 times in the nonviolent condition), including at themselves or their partner (3.4 times vs. 1.5 times in the sword condition and 0.2 times in the nonviolent condition),” said the magazine write-up shared with Secrets. A similar movie test was conducted and produced similar results, including one child who pointed the gun at people in a street. “Children who watched the movie clip with guns held the handgun longer (53.1 vs. 11.1 seconds), and pulled the trigger more times (2.8 vs. 0.01 times) than those who saw the same movie clip without guns. Some children engage in very dangerous behaviors with the real gun, such as pulling the trigger while pointing the gun at themselves or their partner. One boy pointed the real gun out the laboratory window at people in the street,” said the study.

Metaanalysis (2018): Children's violent video game play associated with increased physical aggressive behavior

Violent video game play by adolescents is associated with increases in physical aggression over time, according to a Dartmouth meta-analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Although most researchers on the subject agree that playing violent video games appears to increase physical aggression, a vocal minority continues to dispute this. To examine issues raised by the counterclaims on this topic, Dartmouth researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 24 studies from around the world from 2010 to 2017 with over 17,000 participants, ages nine to 19 years-old. The studies all examined how violent video game play affected changes in real-world physical aggression over time, ranging from three months to four years. Examples of physical aggression included incidents such as hitting someone or being sent to the principal's office for fighting, and were based on self-reports by children, parents, teachers and peers. [...] "I hope our findings prompt skeptics to reevaluate their position, especially since some of our other research indicates that violent video game play may increase deviance with implications for multiple risk behaviors," added Sargent.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for August 6, 2019

'Spin' found in over half of clinical trial abstracts published in top psychiatry journals

'Spin'—exaggerating the clinical significance of a particular treatment without the statistics to back it up—is apparent in more than half of clinical trial abstracts published in top psychology and psychiatry journals, finds a review of relevant research in BMJ Evidence Based Medicine. The findings raise concerns about the potential impact this might be having on treatment decisions, as the evidence to date suggests that abstract information alone is capable of changing doctors' minds, warn the study authors. [...] The study authors [...] point out: "Researchers have an ethical obligation to honestly and clearly report the results of their research. Adding spin to the abstract of an article may mislead physicians who are attempting to draw conclusions about a treatment for patients. Most physicians read only the article abstract the majority of the time." They add: "Those who write clinical trial manuscripts know that they have a limited amount of time and space in which to capture the attention of the reader. Positive results are more likely to be published, and many manuscript authors have turned to questionable reporting practices in order to beautify their results."

Toward a critical self-reflective psychiatry: an interview with Pat Bracken

Pat Bracken is a psychiatrist who questions many of the fundamental assumptions of his field. He has worked as a psychiatrist in rural Ireland, inner-city and multi-ethnic parts of the UK, and in Uganda, East Africa.

Bracken, who holds doctoral degrees in both medicine and philosophy, calls for a movement toward critical psychiatry. He was one of the people involved in starting the Critical Psychiatry Network, an organization of psychiatrists, researchers, and mental health professionals that question the assumptions that lie beneath psychiatric knowledge and practice. Through his clinical practice and his academic work in philosophy and ethics, he has seen the limits and dangers of standard approaches to mental health in the West. As a result, he has become an advocate for listening to different understandings of madness from those who are routinely ignored and dismissed — namely, service-users and people who themselves experience madness, and those from indigenous and non-Western cultures.

Dr. Bracken was also interviewed on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour on July 20, 2016

Helping people come off medication – bad for business?

JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association recently published an opinion article by two influential scientists, Alan Leshner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Victor Dzau of the National Academy of Medicine, who make a case for so-called ‘medication-based treatment‘ of opioid use disorder. Medication based treatment involves the use of methadone, buprenorphine, or extended-release naltrexone to “alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce opioid cravings, and decrease the response to future drug use” caused by the use of opioid pain killers. What Lesnher and Dzau suggest is to use prescribed drugs to solve problems caused by other prescribed drugs. I agree that in certain instances this can be helpful or may even be necessary to help patients. But I struggle to understand the omission of a solution which, to me at least, seems better for the patient in the long-term; namely helping them to safely and gradually taper the opioid-based painkiller that they have become dependent on.

Adding fluoxetine to therapy not superior to therapy alone in depressed teens

A new study found no evidence that the addition of the antidepressant fluoxetine to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) treatment improves depressive symptoms for youth diagnosed with moderate-to-severe Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). These findings, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, contradict guidelines recommending fluoxetine as the first-choice antidepressant for this age group. The researchers, led by Christopher Davey, Michael Berk, and Patrick McGorry, write: “The results have important implications for treatment. The study did not find evidence to support adding antidepressant medication to psychotherapy for the treatment of young people with moderate-to-severe depression. [...] “Our results did not provide evidence to support the addition of fluoxetine to CBT for further reducing depressive symptoms in young people with moderate-to-severe MDD. This finding is particularly so for patients younger than 18 years.”

Medication for depression: what are my other options?

We explore 9 alternative and complementary options to medication for clinical depression. The number of antidepressants prescribed in England has almost doubled over the past decade, with 70.9 million prescriptions being given out in 2018 alone. Around 4 million of us are long-term antidepressant users in England alone. With many talking about the pressure they feel to stop taking medication for their mental health, it’s clear that opinions are divided on the best way we can manage depression. Medication isn’t for everyone. [...] Some people may be concerned that medication alone merely masks the problems that have contributed to their depression, rather than helping treat the underlying issues or helping them to develop alternative coping mechanisms to challenge and cope with their feelings. Others may not like the thought of being on medication, or may prefer to explore more holistic options.

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 August 5, 2019


Please watch this stunning new short filmWhere Does It End? New ‘Monarch’ Brain Device Approved for ADHD. Based on an interview with me, the dramatic half-hour video was created by Aaron and Melissa Dykes.

The FDA has approved Monarch, a device with two electrodes connected to the forehead for electrical stimulation of the brains of children labelled with ADHD.  The electric current invades the entire front of the brain of the child, disrupting brain waves and neurotransmission throughout.  To counter this atrocity, psychologist Michael Cornwall, PhD and I have formed SPAC! – Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children

Monarch is horrible by itself but will undoubtedly be ramped up in the future with increasingly damaging currents much as the FDA has encouraged to happen with electrical convulsive therapy (ECT).  Other devices are in the works.  Eventually millions of children and adults will be having their brains disrupted and harmed by these devices and their knockoffs.  We need to rally against the psychiatric abuse of children. Join our Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy to Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Our Children

Peter R. Breggin

Staying Socially Active May Offset Risk of Cognitive Decline

Last month, the big news from the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) 2019 in Los Angeles was that various lifestyle factors may offset dementia risk. All told, five research studies were presented that focused on specific lifestyle interventions (e.g., regular exercise, healthy diet, smoking cessation, limited alcohol consumption, and cognitive stimulation) that appear to counteract the genetic (and overall) risk for Alzheimer's disease and dementia. [...] "Our analysis suggests that more frequent social contact during early and midlife may build cognitive reserve, which is maintained and delays or prevents the clinical expression of dementia," the authors said. [...] Data analysis revealed that higher amounts of social contact at age 60 were most significantly associated with a lower risk of developing dementia later in life. Those who had daily face-to-face interactions with friends at age 60 were 12 percent less likely to develop dementia than age-matched cohorts who weren't socially engaged on a regular basis.

US seniors fulfill dreams, fight depression with virtual reality

Her project, called "VR Genie," is designed to counteract the "loneliness and social isolation" that often affects the elderly, especially those who live alone or in nursing homes where there are few activities. "We use virtual reality to fulfill seniors' wishes," said Ivanovitch, a digital humanities doctor. Through VR, seniors can go places they've never been and check destinations off their bucket lists. VR Genie, which is run by the nonprofit organization Equality Lab, is funded by Miami-Dade County. The goal is to provide nursing homes with VR helmets as soon as Ivanovitch, 35, compiles a more extensive "dream library." "We are really trying to reconnect them with the world," said Ivanovitch. [...] Recent studies show that virtual reality can help people deal with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues. "We know that things like guided imagery and meditation can be very beneficial for cognition and things of that nature, and we also know that direct behavioral interventions can be very helpful for individuals as well," said Aldrich Chan, a neuropsychologist and research associate at the University of Miami.

Gardening to Prevent Loneliness Ranks Among Tips for Better Aging

Singapore has recommended that seniors should consider gardening to prevent loneliness and depression, Reuters reported. In 2017, the number of people over age 60 who committed suicide reached an all-time high and officials worry the trend will continue. Staying active is vital to aging well. [...] . “The most physically active people were about 40 percent less likely to have developed cognitive impairments compared with people who were not active,” he said. “Likewise, the most physically active people were about 50 percent less likely to have developed dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.” [...]  “The volume of the hippocampus in the exercise group actually increased over the course of the year,” Dr. Polk said. “The people in the exercise group whose hippocampus grew the most also exhibited the largest improvements in memory.”

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 August 3-4, 2019

Where Does It End? New ‘Monarch’ Brain Device Approved for ADHD

Learn more about SPAC! — Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children!

Missouri's foster kids can no longer be doped up thanks to a new legal settlement

Thousands of kids in Missouri's foster care system are likely to benefit from a first-of-its-kind legal settlement under which state officials have agreed to strict limits on how and when kids can be given psychotropic drugs. The settlement resolves a class action lawsuit charging that Missouri foster care officials failed to safeguard the conditions under which the powerful medications are dispensed. U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey gave preliminary approval to the agreement on Monday. Evidence in the case showed that many foster children were given psychotropic drugs for diagnoses they weren’t designed to address. One of the plaintiffs, a 14-year-old boy identified as M.B., received more than six psychotropic drugs at once, according to the lawsuit. Another, a 12-year-old girl identified as K.C., was given as many as five psychotropic medications at a time. “At one residential facility, K.C. was reported on multiple occasions to be ‘visibly, involuntarily shaking,’” Laughrey wrote last year when she certified the case as a class action. “This is the first federal class action that we’re aware of that has really put marquee lights around the issue of how we use psychotropic medications in the foster environment,” said Samantha Bartosz, deputy director of litigation at New York-based Children’s Rights and lead counsel in the case. “And that’s a very challenging environment because children move from home to home all too frequently and the facts of their medical and mental health histories get atomized and broken up. And so it creates challenges administering these drugs safely and for the right reason.”

A 2011 U.S. Government Accountability Office report found that children in foster care are prescribed antipsychotic drugs at anywhere from twice to quadruple the rate of children who are not in foster care. In 2014, the San Jose Mercury News published a series of stories finding widespread use of psychotropic drugs without proper evaluation or monitoring among the 63,000 children in California’s foster system. More than 13,000 children are in Missouri’s foster care system. Nearly a quarter, or more than 3,100, were receiving psychotropic drugs as of a year ago, when Laughrey found that they faced “a substantial risk of harm.” Laughrey noted that children receiving psychotropic drugs were more vulnerable to psychosis, seizures, suicidal thoughts, aggression, weight gain, organ damage and other, life-threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular Risk Profile Associated With Antipsychotic Use in Schizophrenia

Patients with schizophrenia demonstrate a different cardiovascular risk profile than patients without psychiatric disease, including an elevated heart rate, Fridericia-corrected QT (QTc) prolongation, and pathological Q waves. Additionally, abnormal electrocardiograms (ECGs) are associated with antipsychotics in this population, according to a study published in Schizophrenia Bulletin. [...] The investigators suggest that patients with schizophrenia have a different cardiovascular risk profile than patients without psychiatric disease: they exhibit an elevated heart rate, QTc prolongation, and pathological Q waves and less often experienced left ventricular hypertrophy and atrial fibrillation or flutter. Abnormal ECGs associated with antipsychotic use further highlights the need for an integrated approach to care in this population.

TOOTH TALK: Medications' effects on oral health

The most commonly prescribed drugs are antibiotics, taken by 17 percent of Americans, followed by antidepressants and opioids, each taken by 13 percent of Americans. Many of those life-sustaining medications have side effects that can, literally, take away your smile. [...] One of the most common medication side effects is dry mouth, or xerostomia. More than 400 medications are known to reduce the flow of saliva, causing uncomfortable dryness. Without saliva, mouth tissue may become irritated and inflamed, increasing the risk of infection and gum disease. Antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, lung inhalers, certain blood pressure and heart medications, including ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, heart rhythm medications and diuretics are culprits. Medications for seizures, acne, anti-anxiety, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, nausea, diarrhea and motion sickness all inhibit saliva production to some degree. It may sound obvious, but hydration is everything. Drinking plenty of water or chewing sugarless gum may help relieve your symptoms.

Drugs for Parkinson’s, depression can raise dementia risk by 50%

The study was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Anticholinergics are used to treat a wide range of conditions — from depression and Parkinson’s disease to bladder disorders, gastrointestinal issues, and insomnia. “The takeaway is that when people are offered or are on a medication for long-term use, it is a good idea to ask the prescribing physician about anticholinergic properties and whether there are alternatives,” Dr. Frank Longo, a neurologist and the chair of the department of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford Health Care, told Healthline. [...] those who took antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, anti-Parkinson’s drugs, overactive bladder drugs, and anti-epileptic drugs had the greatest risk of developing dementia.

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

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

News & Information for August 2, 2019


How much does alcohol harm people besides the drinker?

Have you ever been harmed by someone who was drinking alcohol?  If the answer is yes, you have a lot of company. Two new studies, one from the U.S. and one from England, examine the degree to which alcohol misuse is harming people other than the drinker within a given year.  Just as exposure to “secondhand smoke” from burning or exhaled tobacco products can cause serious health problems for children and adults in the smoking environment, so exposure to alcohol overuse can result in a variety of dangers to those in the drinking environment. [...] What percentage of adults in the U.S. are harmed by someone else’s drinking? According to a recent study in The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, the answer is: About 20% of the U.S. population in a 12-month period. That amounts to approximately 53 million adults (26 million women, 27 million men) estimated to experience at least one type of harm from someone else’s drinking. [...] A similar study from England of those aged 16 and older likewise found that one in five people were harmed by others’ drinking over the past year. In addition, nearly one in 20 of those experienced physical or sexual aggression from a drinker.  This survey used a sample size of 5,000 individuals, making it the largest survey of its kind in the United Kingdom and the first in England itself.

Study touts psychotherapy as first-line treatment for youth with depression

Young people seeking help for depression should be offered psychotherapyas the first line of treatment, and medication should be a secondary option, according to a clinical trial by researchers at Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health in Australia. The findings, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, show that patients (ages 15 to 25) who received psychotherapy alone did just as well as those who received both psychotherapy and an antidepressant medication. However, the researchers found some evidence suggesting that if antidepressants do play a role, it would be in those at the older end of that age range. “The results suggest that we should really be focusing on providing good quality psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to young people and keeping medication as the second line of treatment,” said Associate Professor Christopher Davey, head of mood disorder research at Orygen.

Digital games may beat mindfulness apps at relieving stress, new study shows

Digital games, typical of those used on smartphones, may relieve stress after a day's work more effectively than mindfulness apps, according to a study by UCL in London and the University of Bath. In the study, published in JMIR Mental Health, participants were given a 15-minute maths test and then asked to either play a shape-fitting game or use a mindfulness app. Those in a control group were given a fidget-spinner toy. [...] Lead author Dr Emily Collins, of the University of Bath, who started the research while at UCL, said: "To protect our long-term health and well-being, we need to be able to unwind and recuperate after work. Our study suggests playing digital games can be an effective way to do this." The authors noted that digital games appear to fulfill four criteria necessary for post-work recovery: they tend to be relaxing, they provide opportunities for mastering a new skill, they are highly immersive and distracting, and they allow people to feel in control.

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

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

News & Information for August 1, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour - Open Mic - 07/31/19

On Open Mic Wednesday, always the last Wednesday of the Month, I spend the first 15 minutes talking about suffering in relationship to love.   I spoke off the “top of my head” and the “bottom of my heart.”  Then I talked with six interesting callers about difficult matters in life such as recovery from medication injury, psychiatric drug withdrawal, how to help a grown son who stopped years of psychiatric drugs all at once, and how to help a fifteen year old son who has been hospitalized and heavily medicated.  It may help you think about how to talk with people in difficult psychiatric situations. 

Want to be happier? Live near water, research shows

A study shows that living near a body of water has a number of therapeutic benefits, ranging from increased happiness to creativity. There is something about being by the water that tends to induce a sense of calm and well-being, and one marine biologist says living close to a lake, river, sea or ocean actually promotes happiness. [...] “There is some research that says people may sleep better when they are adjacent to nature,” Winter told Conde Nast Traveler. “No wonder sleep machines always feature the sounds of rain, the ocean, or a flowing river.” A U.K. study last year provided some scientific proof of the phenomenon, as researchers measured the heart rates and blood pressure of people as they watched an empty tank of water, a partially-stocked aquarium tank with fish and plants, and then a fully-stocked tank which contained double the number of animal species. While the study showed that even staring at an empty tank of water lowered blood pressure and heart rates, the therapeutic benefits grew as more biodiversity was added. “Our oceans, waterways, and the life they contain are so much more than their ecological, economic, and educational value. They have vast emotional benefits. They make life on earth possible, but also worth living,”  Nichols added. “I like to imagine the world would be a better place if we all understood just how true that is. Water is medicine, for everyone, for life.”

Psychiatric diagnosis 'scientifically meaningless'

A new study, published in Psychiatry Research, has concluded that psychiatric diagnoses are scientifically worthless as tools to identify discrete mental health disorders. The study, led by researchers from the University of Liverpool, involved a detailed analysis of five key chapters of the latest edition of the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), on 'schizophrenia', 'bipolar disorder', 'depressive disorders', 'anxiety disorders' and 'trauma-related disorders'. Diagnostic manuals such as the DSM were created to provide a common diagnostic language for mental health professionals and attempt to provide a definitive list of mental health problems, including their symptoms. The main findings of the research were:

  • Psychiatric diagnoses all use different decision-making rules
  • There is a huge amount of overlap in symptoms between diagnoses
  • Almost all diagnoses mask the role of trauma and adverse events
  • Diagnoses tell us little about the individual patient and what treatment they need

The authors conclude that diagnostic labelling represents 'a disingenuous categorical system'. Lead researcher Dr Kate Allsopp, University of Liverpool, said: "Although diagnostic labels create the illusion of an explanation they are scientifically meaningless and can create stigma and prejudice. I hope these findings will encourage mental health professionals to think beyond diagnoses and consider other explanations of mental distress, such as trauma and other adverse life experiences."

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 July 31, 2019
Today it's Open Mic on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour. I welcome calls @ 888-874-4888. Make suggestions for the show, ask my opinion or express your own. As always, Open Mic is the last Wednesday of the month at 4 pm New York time.

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

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

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

Psychotherapy should be first option to treat depression in young people, study says

 Adolescents and young adults with mental illness may not benefit significantly from antidepressants, a new study suggests. Instead, psychotherapy should be the first treatment option for young people with depression, according to research published Wednesday in The Lancet Psychiatry. "The results suggest that we should really be focusing on providing good quality psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, to young people and keeping medication as the second line of treatment," said Christopher Davey, a researcher at Orygen, the National Center of Excellence in Youth Mental Health in Australia and study author, in a news release. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, the most common type for young people with depression, usually involves either a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist. [...] "Our study found some evidence to suggest that if antidepressants have a role, they have more of a role in people at the older end of our age range," Davey said. "The take-home message from the study is that the first-line treatment for young people with depression should be psychotherapy."

Some medications can make sun-seekers more susceptible to heat, sunburn, dehyradation

Dehydration, sunburn, and other skin problems are not what most people sign up for when heading out for summer fun. But they are the possible side effects for those who take allergy meds, over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen, or supplements like St. John’s wort. Those and many other medications and supplements can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses. They also can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, increasing the risk of sunburn or worse. Other medications, such as certain diuretics, can make you less thirsty or cause you to urinate more, which can increase your risk of dehydration. And some antidepressants can inhibit the ability to sweat, making it difficult for your body to regulate its temperature properly.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may help youth with anxiety disorders

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children (MBCT-C) may be effective for improving the overall clinical severity of anxiety disorders among youth at risk for bipolar disorder, according to study data published in Early Intervention in Psychiatry. [...] Significantly greater improvements in overall clinical severity per the Clinical Global Impression Scale were observed during the MBCT-C period compared with the waitlist period (P =.05). Improvements in clinician-rated anxiety (P =.01) and child-rated trait anxiety (P <.01) were observed during the MBCT-C period, although between-period changes were not significant. Emotion regulation and mindfulness were not found to improve from the waitlist to the treatment period. Increases in mindfulness were associated with improvements in child-rated state (P =.04), trait anxiety (P <.01), and emotion regulation (P =.03) in the MBCT-C period, although not the waitlist period. These data suggest that MBCT-C has positive effects on the overall clinical presentation of youth with anxiety disorders, although not more specific measures of anxiety and emotion regulation. 

The science and psychology of why people are happy in their senior years

What makes people happy? [...] Does happiness vary based on age? I had no idea. So I did a little research, and am surprised to tell you that science now says YES… A report published in The Journal of Consumer Research finds the kinds of experiences that make people happy tend to change over time. “Young people trying to figure out who they want to become need extraordinary experiences to help establish personal identities,” said Annit Bhattacharjee, the lead author of the study and a visiting assistant professor of marketing at Dartmouth College. “Once people are older and truly understand who they are, the pleasure derived from ordinary experiences increases over time.” Basically, as you age, you come to realize what values are important to you. Those values lead you to invest your energy in activities that are meaningful to you, and inherently make you happy. [...] So what internal changes do older people make that contribute to their own happiness? Studies show people behave differently at different ages. As people age, they have fewer fights and come up with better solutions to conflict. They are better at controlling their emotions, better at accepting misfortune, and less prone to anger. The U-bend theory makes the case that the greyer the world gets, the brighter it becomes!

Brains work in sync during music therapy

For the first time researchers have been able to demonstrate that the brains of a patient and therapist become synchronised during a music therapy session, a breakthrough that could improve future interactions between patients and therapists. The research, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology [...] is the first music therapy study to use a procedure called hyperscanning, which records activity in two brains at the same time, allowing researchers to better understand how people interact. During the session documented in the study, classical music was played as the patient discussed a serious illness in her family. Both patient and therapist wore EEG (electroencephalogram) caps containing sensors, which capture electrical signals in the brain, and the session was recorded in sync with the EEG using video cameras [...] "Music, used therapeutically, can improve wellbeing, and treat conditions including anxiety, depression, autism and dementia. Music therapists have had to rely on the patient's response to judge whether this is working, but by using hyperscanning we can see exactly what is happening in the patient's brain.

Half of young people with ADHD receive antipsychotics without proper indication

Approximately half of youth who received antipsychotics during the year after an ADHD diagnosis had a diagnosis for which antipsychotics are indicated, and less than half of these youth received a stimulant — the evidence-supported first-line ADHD treatment, study data revealed. “In this current study, we were interested in a new and deeper look at the use of antipsychotic medications in youth with ADHD,” Ryan S. Sultan, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, told Healio Psychiatry. “Previous work has shown the increasing use of antipsychotics in the treatment of children with mental disorders and that ADHD was the most commonly associated diagnosis.”

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for July 30, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour - July 24, 2019

The martyrdom of America’s children is the theme of this hour. I begin without a guest describing the great new documentary HBO film, “I Love You, Now Die,” about the Michelle Carter case—the 17-year-old girl who supposedly texted her boyfriend to death and got convicted of murder. The HBO film is worth watching for the insights it gives into the horror that so many young people go through growing up today, from psychiatric diagnoses and drugs to the isolation of social media which separates them from their parents and other adults. The film truly tells the untold story behind the fake one, often in my words. I also mention another important documentary in which I am also featured, “The Minds of Men,” already seen by nearly 2 million people. Then psychologist Michael Cornwall joins me and we talk about SPAC!—our new organization to Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children. Our focus is on the latest assault on the brains and human rights of children: The FDA’s baseless approval of putting electrical stimulation through the brains of innocent children labeled with ADHD. We predict that electrifying children will become a new plague upon them, one that can afflict any child who proves troublesome or looks distressed. Finally, Michael and I talk about what children really need and it has nothing to do with disrupting and ruining their normal brain function. If you want to talk to Michael Cornwall, the director of SPAC!, you can email him at [email protected].

Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors may reduce psychiatric medications in Alzheimer disease

The use of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs) was associated with a reduced risk of psychotropic medication use in patients with Alzheimer disease(AD), according to results from a study published in theAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of 17,763 individuals with Lewy body dementia and AD. Study participants were excluded if they had previous anxiolytic and antipsychotic use at dementia diagnosis. Data were collected from the Swedish Dementia Registry from 2007 to 2015. The investigators used a propensity score-matched regression model to analyze associations between AChEI use and the risk of psychotropic medication initiation. After analysis, the researchers reported that AChEI use was associated with a reduced risk of anxiolytic (hazard ratio, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.72-0.80) and antipsychotic (hazard ratio, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.75-0.95) initiation vs matched comparators. No associations were found between AChEI use and the start of hypnotics or antidepressant therapy. “In sub-analyses, this association remained significant at higher AChEI doses, and in AD but not Lewy body dementia,” the researchers noted.

Babies display empathy for victims as early as 6 months

In a paper published in British Journal of Psychology, researchers through two experiments contributed to the debunking of the theory that babies only develop the ability to empathize after one year. "The findings indicate that even during a baby's first year, the infant is already sensitive to others' feelings and can draw complicated conclusions about the context of a particular emotional display," says Dr. Florina Uzefovsky, head of the BGU Bio-Empathy Lab, and senior lecturer in BGU's department of psychology and the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience. "Even during the first year of life, babies are able to identify figures who "deserve" empathy and which ones do not, and if it appears that there is no justification for the other one's distress, no preference is shown."


In the first experiment, researchers determined that five- to nine-month-old infants demonstrate a clear pro-victim preference. They showed 27 infants two video clips depicting a square figure with eyes climb a hill, meet a circular friendly figure, then happily go down the hill together, all the while displaying clear positive or neutral feelings. In the second video, however, the same round figure hits and bullies the square figure until it goes back down the hill, showing distress by crying and doubling over. The researchers then had the babies show their preference by choosing one of the square figures presented to them on a tray. More than 80% of the participants chose the figure that had shown distress, thus showing empathic preference towards the bullied figure. When shown the same set of figures without the context of why there was sadness or a positive mood, the babies showed no preference for either figure.

Babies understand social hierarchies, expect leaders to fix everything when someone breaks the rules

Babies understand social hierarchies and expect leaders to fix everything when someone breaks the rules, according to researchers who observed children watching puppet shows. Scientists looked at how 120 17-month-old children reacted to puppet shows showing where bears behave unfairly, while they sat on a parents' lap. Would infants expect the leader of a group to step in to fix an issue, compared with those who weren't leaders? The babies watched three bear puppets, who represented a wrongdoer, protagonist and a victim, respectively, in different scenarios. The protagonist bear presented the other bears with two toys to share. But the mean bear took both. The protagonist then responded in one of two ways: by intervening and returning the toy to the victim; or speaking to each bear but not returning the toy. In some experiments, the protagonist was presented as the leader due to its behavior or physical cues. In others, it was inferred all bears were equal. Children who observed the leader not intervening looked at the scene for "significantly longer suggesting that they expected the leader to intervene and rectify the wrongdoer's transgression," the authors of the study published in the journal PNAS wrote. [...]"Other studies have shown that toddlers differentiate between bullies and leaders: they prefer those who are deferred to in conflicts, but not those who use force to get their way and they expect others to follow the orders of leaders but not bullies," she said. "These studies show that toddlers even expect leaders to intervene in conflicts, which is a very important benefit that leaders provide to groups."

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 July 29, 2019

What we eat can affect our mental health

In a health sense, we consider our food and our diets mainly in the context of how they shape us physically: what makes our skin glow, what strengthens our bones, what helps with our eyesight or what might make us gain weight. The impact of our daily food intake, however, goes beyond that. A nutritious diet can impact our mental health positively, just as much as a poor diet can be detrimental to our moods. If you haven’t been feeling like your sharp and energetic self lately, take a look at your daily food profile and identify what’s lacking. [...] With more scientific evidence that supports the use of nutritional psychiatry to treat mental health, the medical community is also starting to take note of the connection between mental conditions, inflammation and diet. In time, doctors and counsellors will need to be up to speed on the role of nutrition, just as much as they are knowledgeable about the human body. But you don’t have to wait until then. Make it a priority to change to a better and healthier diet that gives you the nutrients needed to improve your mental state and overall health.

Busting school stress with happiness classes

NEW DELHI: Delhi students are finally finding happiness in schools. A typical Happiness Class starts with students rubbing their hands and putting them on the eyes to relax. A little bit of meditation follows. Children are themselves feeling the sounds of their surroundings. At peace with themselves, they then go into discussions and exchange their ideas about anything under the sun. The 45 minutes pass with happy faces all around –and it is now time to take out books. The Happiness Curriculum of the Delhi government is helping students to change their attitude towards studies, noted the teachers of different schools. According to the students, during the Happiness Class, the students focus on things they would otherwise skip. Students indulge in joyful exercises, indoor games, active enquiry, reflective conversations, storytelling, guided practices for mindfulness, group discussions and situation based role-play and skits. The new and unique curriculum was launched by Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia to develop self-awareness and mindfulness amongst students. "It aimed to inculcate the skill of critical thinking and inquiry among the students," said an Education Department official. 

‘It’s a superpower’: how walking makes us healthier, happier and brainier

I witnessed the brain-healing effects of walking when my partner was recovering from an acute brain injury. His mind was often unsettled, but during our evening strolls through east London, things started to make more sense and conversation flowed easily. O’Mara nods knowingly. “You’re walking rhythmically together,” he says, “and there are all sorts of rhythms happening in the brain as a result of engaging in that kind of activity, and they’re absent when you’re sitting. One of the great overlooked superpowers we have is that, when we get up and walk, our senses are sharpened. Rhythms that would previously be quiet suddenly come to life, and the way our brain interacts with our body changes.” From the scant data available on walking and brain injury, says O’Mara, “it is reasonable to surmise that supervised walking may help with acquired brain injury, depending on the nature, type and extent of injury – perhaps by promoting blood flow, and perhaps also through the effect of entraining various electrical rhythms in the brain. And perhaps by engaging in systematic dual tasking, such as talking and walking.”

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 July 27-28, 2019

Monarch eTNS System: FDA approves ‘mild’ shock treatment for kids with ADHD

File this under “Normalizing Insane Practices” in your binder of conspiracy theories that aren’t getting enough attention. Then again, it’s not a theory. This conspiracy is real and for some reason it’s not getting panned by, well, everyone. The FDA has approved a treatment for ADHD in children that involves putting electrodes on their heads and letting them sleep with mild electric shock pulses coursing through their brain. Despite a mere 4-week trial on 32 children, it was approved to be prescribed by doctors. And this is just one of several alternatives to medication that have been pushed through and approved by the FDA in recent months. Here’s the sad part. Parents of the 32 children were offered to continue the treatment after the trial. Half refused. Those who accepted were allowed to continue for a full year. Only three did. But the mystery is deeper. Much deeper. The folks at Truthstream Media and Dr. Peter Breggin dig into what’s happening with the Monarch eTNS System. Our children rely on parents to make good decisions for them. Any parent of a child with ADHD should see this.

Learning to teach mindfulness to children can help teachers reduce their own stress

As the use of mindfulness has increased globally, its importance in education has also been recognised. Though it is not yet on any curriculum, it is being used in schools around the world to improve pupils' well-being, mental health, social and emotional learning, concentration and cognition. Many schools are now enrolling their teachers on mindfulness courses too, so that they can eventually teach these skills to their pupils, without relying on external specialists. Teaching mindfulness to teachers not only gives them the skills and knowledge to progress onto further courses to be able to teach it to children, but it may also have the added benefit of improving their own well-being. And, as better teacher well-being is associated with better pupil well-being, there are clear wider benefits to them learning it too. [...] For our recently published study, which involved 44 teachers from UK primary and secondary schools, we decided to find out how teachers' mental health and well-being benefits from different mindfulness courses, and what they think about them. [...] We found that both courses reduced the teachers' anxiety and stress, with MBSR having the added benefit of reducing their symptoms of depression. The majority felt that the course made them calmer, more aware and less reactive, which was also believed to roll over into their teaching. As one said: "I'm so much calmer and … more patient with the children in my class."

Scientists use optogenetics to make mice hallucinate

Have you ever wondered how the brain is able to see things that are not really there? A hallucination is a perception formed without external stimuli. Last week, neuroscientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine published a landmark study in the journal Science demonstrating how optogenetics can activate nerve cells in the visual cortex to trigger hallucinations in mice. [...] This neuroscience breakthrough may provide insight into how mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, delirium, and other conditions that may cause hallucinations such as migraine, brain tumors, Charles Bonnet Syndrome, seizures, terminal illnesses, epilepsy, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, metabolism disorders, and sleep disorders. This study lays the foundation for the possibility of the creation of single-cell resolution neural prosthetic devices in the future.

Schizophrenia significantly associated with increased risk for substance abuse

An association between the diagnosis of schizophrenia and the risk for subsequent development of substance abuse has been suggested; and a prospective cohort study on the subject was conducted in Denmark with the use of a longitudinal study design. Results of the analysis were published in the journal Addiction. The investigators sought to explore whether a diagnosis of schizophrenia increases an individual’s risk of being diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder. [...] The investigators concluded that in Denmark, a diagnosis of schizophrenia is significantly associated with an elevated risk of being diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder. These findings underscore the importance of integrating treatment of schizophrenia and substance abuse, along with prevention of substance abuse in persons diagnosed with schizophrenia, prior to the onset of a substance abuse disorder.

Antipsychotic use in youths with ADHD is low, but still cause for concern

Although fewer young people with ADHD are treated with antipsychotic drugs than suspected, many prescriptions for the drugs do not appear to be clinically warranted, according to a new study from psychiatry researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. They also found that antipsychotic use among youths with ADHD was highest among preschool-age children. In recent years, pediatricians and parents have expressed concern that some physicians are prescribing antipsychotic drugs to youths with ADHD who have significant aggressive or impulsive behavior. Youths with ADHD who are treated with antipsychotics are often also diagnosed with depression, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), or conduct disorders (CD), even though there is limited evidence that the drugs are effective for ODD or CD and no evidence they are effective in treating depression. "We didn't know how widespread this practice was among young people starting ADHD treatment," says senior author Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, Elizabeth K Dollard [...] "There are substantial risks associated with the use of antipsychotic drugs in young people, including weight gain, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and even unexpected death."

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for July 26, 2019

Ultra-processed diets cause excess calorie intake and weight gain

Increased availability and consumption of ultra-processed foods have been associated with rising obesity prevalence, but scientists have not yet demonstrated that ultra-processed food causes obesity or adverse health outcomes. Researchers at the NIH investigated whether people ate more calories when exposed to a diet composed of ultra-processed foods compared with a diet composed of unprocessed foods.

Despite the ultra-processed and unprocessed diets being matched for daily presented calories, sugar, fat, fiber, and macronutrients, people consumed more calories when exposed to the ultra-processed diet as compared to the unprocessed diet. Furthermore, people gained weight on the ultra-processed diet and lost weight on the unprocessed diet. Limiting consumption of ultra-processed food may be an effective strategy for obesity prevention and treatment.

Learned Mindfulness: A novel emotional intelligence perspective

Learned mindfulness is education. It can prevent and improve the burnout syndrome. Burnout is an occupational hazard, not a medical condition. Burnout leads to toxic stress causing a range of physical and mental disorders. These include the worsening of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and major clinical depression. Feeling overwhelmed with technology, finances, and proper nutrition is stress. Degrees of burnout show up in everyone’s life. Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, irritable, and exhausted are tell-tale signs. Cynicism and depersonalization/numbing are self-sabotaging byproducts. Integrating mindfulness into everyday living decreases the chances of burnout. Once learned, mindfulness exists as a health-promoting orientation. Relaxation is a forgotten skill. Life experience is typically “off balance”; things never move in precisely controlled ways. One’s daily task is managing a reasonable balance among life’s responsibilities, using the ballast of emotions.

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

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

News & Information for July 25, 2019

DeWine orders tour of Columbus psychiatric facility for teens after reports of violence, sexual assaults

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has asked the director of a state licensing agency to personally tour Sequel Pomegranate; the move follows reports by 10 Investigates that exposed incidents of violence and sexual abuse inside the psychiatric and behavioral health facility for teens. [...] Parents, teens and former staffers have also come forward in interviews and expressed concerns about the issues of violence and sexual abuse, lack of supervision and understaffing, which they allege contributes to the problems. [...] Since 2017, records from OHMAS show there have been 18 incidents reported to Criss's department, far fewer than hundreds of police runs and dozens of allegations we found submitted to Franklin County Children's Services in the same time period. [...] And 10 Investigates’ analysis of allegations found unsubstantiated cases of improper restraint or abuse on behalf of staffers still sometimes resulted in employees being fired or retrained. In 24 incidents we reviewed, 11 staffers were either fired or disciplined.

A Simple Guide to Understanding Psychological Research

Understanding the complexities of modern life is overwhelming. The constant bombardment of information is the new norm. Parsing through seemingly divergent pieces of information about topics of interest is a necessary skill, but most Americans haven’t had any formal education in how to do this. In my experience, many people are turned off by even hearing the term research (#totallyanecdotal). Well, I am not a research methodologist or statistician, but I have a reasonably strong background in research (see this amazing dissertation). Seriously, as I talk to people in my family, community, and especially online in parenting groups, I realize there are fundamental misunderstandings about science. The topics are very complicated, but the basics can go a long way to helping you become a better consumer of information.  [...] How can we combat being taken in by clickbait headlines and outlandish claims in the popular media? Be skeptical. If it sounds too good (or bad) to be true, take it with a grain of salt (which is apparently good for you again). And, please, please, please remember that correlation does not equal causation.

Is this surprising drug-free remedy really stronger than a sedative? 

Is there anything that can make you instantly happy/sad/excited/sleepy quite like music? There's something so powerful about sound, and certain music can affect our physiology in ways that feel impossible. That is, until you experience it firsthand. There's no doubt that music is a powerful tool. And researchers at the University of Pennsylvania believe in the potential of sound and music so much, they think it could help sedate patients before surgery. But can music really do all that? According to the study they conducted, which was published in the British Medical Journal, yes. The researchers split 157 patients into two groups; group one was given a common sedative called midazolam, and group 2 was played music (the song "Weightless," by a band called Marconi Union to be exact), while also being given a local anesthetic for the pain. The results showed that the reductions in anxiety were very similar in the two groups. So what explains this? As Veena Graff, M.D., an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the University of Pennsylvania, told the BBC, "Music lights up the emotional area of the brain, the reward system and the pleasure pathways. It means patients can be in their own world; they can be comfortable and have full control."

The Antidepressant Fact Book - by Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for July 24, 2019

Alert 110: Let's talk about HBO's documentary "I Love You, Now Die"

On Dr. Peter Breggin Hour today, I talk about the recent two-part HBO documentary "I Love You, Now Die,"  in which I play a significant role as a commentator and also with filmed segments of my trial testimony.  The documentary is about Michelle Carter, the high school girl convicted of murder for supposedly telling her boyfriend to kill himself.  I was the psychiatrist who testified on her behalf.   Starting with Michelle and her boyfriend Conrad,  I will examine how America has given up responsibility for its children.  Worse yet, America is destroying its children with psychiatric drugs and diagnoses, illegal drugs, social media, junk food, damaging schools, and political ideologies that make growing up nearly impossible.   In Michelle's case, the legal system and the media blamed her for what the adult world did to her and to her boyfriend.  Call in, get involved, disagree with me, but let's offer some leadership and inspiration to stopping the abuse our of children. 

Listen in @ www.prn.fm, Wednesdays 4 PM, NY time

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

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

Nursing home residents turned into 'zombies' on antipsychotics

People living with dementia in aged care facilities are being unnecessarily sedated with antipsychotic drugs for more than 200 days at a time, twice as long as the maximum time recommended, a study has found. Some were sedated for their entire stay, according to Australia's first large longitudinal study to review nursing home's medication records by Macquarie University's Kimberly Lind, to be published on Wednesday in Alzheimer's Disease and Associated Disorders.

Experts have told the Royal Commission on Aged Care Quality and Safety that antipsychotic drugs are rampantly over-prescribed, turning patients into "zombies" when they only make a difference in about 10 per cent of cases. [...] The new study of the daily medication records in nursing homes confirmed doctors weren't following the guidelines, said Dr Lind from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, the paper's lead author. Of those residents with dementia who were taking antipsychotics, 65 per cent took these drugs for more than three months. The study looked at 9242 medication "episodes" relating to 5825 residents aged 65 years and over at 68 residential aged care facilities in NSW and ACT. It found the average duration for a woman was 212 days and 216 for a man. Some people were on these drugs continuously for more than a year, and some for their entire stay, Dr Lind said. [...] 80 per cent of people in residential care with dement­ia were being prescribed at least one psychotropic drug, including antipsychotics, antidepressants and sedatives.

Facility aims to treat mental health disorders without medication

BROOKLINE, Vt. (WCAX) When it comes to addiction, the focus is often on the opioid crisis. But mental health experts say other disorders are contributing to the problem and they say prescribing more drugs may not be the solution. Our Adam Sullivan shows you another option in Brookline. "Typically the psychiatrists medicate them but they are not dealing with the issues at hand," said Beatrice Birch of Inner Fire. Doctors and counselors are part of Inner Fire's mission to address those underlying problems. But the facility also uses art and community chores, like gardening and wood chopping, to give Rico and others more of a stake in their own recovery. The nonprofit raised $1 million for the new housing unit. It's looking to raise another $1.7 million for more beds and a meeting space. On this day, journalist and author Robert Whitaker spoke about his life's work writing about medicine. When it comes to treating mental health, he says the system is failing, relying too often on prescription drugs. "The outcomes for people in the United States and other rich countries are much worse than they are in the poor countries of the world for the same diagnosis. And actually, long-term recovery rates for people diagnosed with schizophrenia are now worse than they have been in 100 years," Whitaker said. [...] "We help strengthen them on a deeper soul-spiritual level, their reasons why they went to the doctor in the first place," Birch said.

You can listen to Dr. Whitaker on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, appearing on the 06/04/1208/12/1504/13/16Current News

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