April 1, 2019

Breaking News and Information – February 2019

Current News

News & Information for February 28, 2019

The Minds of Men Interview Part 4: Dr. Breggin and a Brave Reporter Fight Psychosurgery Establishment

Interview IV of VIII. With help from a brave Boston Globe reporter, Dr. Breggin successfully takes on psychosurgeons from the upper echelon of the Boston Medical Establishment and their Great Defender Senator Ted Kennedy. When Dr. Breggin started his successful international campaign to stop psychosurgery in the early 1970s, he never imagined the mind-control aspirations and racist motivations espoused by key neurosurgeons and psychiatrists.  For detailed descriptions of Peter and Ginger Breggin’s successful campaigns to stop federally-funded psychosurgical, eugenic and racist programs of behavioral control, see Psychiatry as an Instrument of Social and Political Control. See also the full documentary for which this interview was conducted: The Minds of Men.

Religious beliefs decreasing among younger generations

In the 2014 Religious Landscape Study of over 35,000 Americans from The Pew Research Center, the “Unaffiliated” category comprised of Atheist, Agnostic and “nothing in particular” made up 22 percent of the overall responses. The same category, however, made up 25 percent of the college graduates subsection of responses. Larry Terkel, a religious studies professor, began surveying students in his world religions class a few years ago about their religious affiliations and noticed the same trend. […] “I think that what’s happening is this generation is having more difficulty believing in general than others, due to more facts, laws, technology and it is taking away from belief.”

Depression and self harm on the rise among Millennials

Young people today are far more likely to be depressed and to self-harm than they were 10 years ago, a new study suggests, as they struggle with body image and social media. Researchers from University College London (UCL) and the University of Liverpool analysed data from two cohorts of 14-year-old millennials born a decade apart. Fewer than one in 10 (9 per cent) of those born in the early 90s suffered from depression during their teens, but that rose to more one in seven for youngsters born at the turn of the century (15 per cent). The children of the new century also tended to sleep fewer hours on week nights, were more likely to be obese and had poorer body image, compared to the children…

Benefits of practicing mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice of focusing your attention on the present moment, as well as accepting it without any judgment. Mindfulness is currently being researched scientifically and is the key element in reducing stress and increasing happiness. […] So, what can practicing mindfulness help us with? Here is a list of benefits you might get: 1. You will get better sleep – anyone who has problems with mental or physical problems of poor sleep, will appreciate this, perhaps most important benefit, of mindfulness, which is better sleep. […] 2. You will have lower levels of stress […] 3. You will be able to improve your attention – a brief meditation training (which is 4 days long), can lead to an improved ability to sustain attention. […] 4. You will be able to manage chronic pain – thousand, if not millions of people suffer from chronic pain. […] Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), is a therapy that combines mindfulness meditation and yoga, and it might result in significant improvements in pain, anxiety, and the ability to participate in everyday activities. […] 5. You will be able to stop a depression relapse – mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), may prove to be beneficial in preventing depression relapse. The strength of the mind-body technique is how it shows participants how to get loose from the dysfunctional and deeply felt thoughts that go with depression. A study from 2011, found that MBCT is an effective way to prevent depression relapse in people with at least 3 prior episodes of depression.


News & Information for February 27, 2019

Open Mic Today on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, 4 PM NY Time

Today is the last Wednesday of the month and Open Mic on the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour.  My wonderful audience becomes my guests as you call into the show.  I will follow up on psychiatrist Judith Orloff’s amazing interview with me last week about the personality and psychology of people who are Empaths.  Remember, listen on, call in to offer opinions or to ask questions at 888 874 4888, 4-5 PM NY Time, Wednesday, and listen to the archives, including my hour with Judith Orloff, MD on

Growing up with green spaces can lower risk of adult mental illness

A new study from Aarhus University has revealed that children who grow up with greener surroundings have a much lower risk of developing certain mental illnesses later in life. The findings highlight the importance of creating greener cities to benefit mental health. […] The study revealed that children living among green spaces were 55 percent less likely to develop a mental health disorder. […] Previous studies have shown that more green space promotes greater social cohesion and physical activity. Green space has also been found to improve cognitive development among children. These factors can all have a positive impact on mental health. “With our dataset, we show that the risk of developing a mental disorder decreases incrementally the longer you have been surrounded by green space from birth and up to the age of 10. Green space throughout childhood is therefore extremely important,” explained Engemann. “There is increasing evidence that the natural environment plays a larger role for mental health than previously thought. Our study is important in giving us a better understanding of its importance across the broader population.”

UK Report: One in Four Teen Suicides Involves Internet

A quarter of teenage suicides in the United Kingdom involve the internet, an official inquiry has determined, The Telegraph reports. University of Manchester Professor Louis Appleby heads England’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy and the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness. He studied almost 600 suicides committed by young people, and found that 128 had used the internet for something related to suicide, including searching for suicide methods, making suicidal posts on social media, and being bullied online. “It’s unacceptable that social media companies have shown little concern until now,” Appleby said.  “The call from ministers for them to exercise greater social responsibility or face regulation is right.” Teenage suicides rose by 67 percent in England and Wales between 2010 and 2017. Appleby notes that although suicide and self-harm are often driven by financial and emotional deprivation, social media does normalize these acts as being the “next step if you get into difficulties,” and “It becomes something that transmits across the subculture of young people, it becomes part of how they talk about their lives, how they talk about stress and how they expect to respond when stresses occur.”

Parents’ Love Goes a Long Way

new study out of Harvard has found that people who had loving parents in childhood have better lives later on. Parental warmth impacts well-being and health years later. The study looked at parental warmth in childhood, and then at measures of flourishing in mid-life. The association was clear and consistent: people who recall their parents as warm and loving are flourishing at much higher rates in adulthood. This was true even when the study controlled for socioeconomic and other factors. […] “We now have reasonably strong evidence that the experience of parental warmth in childhood, 40-50 years prior, really does shape various aspects of flourishing such as happiness, self-acceptance, social relationships and being more likely to contribute to the community,” he went on. “The effect of having loving, affectionate parents was stronger on these aspects than on a sense of purpose in life. But we see that parental warmth led to more happiness and social acceptance, as well as less depression, anxiety and drug use. The experience of love in childhood is of profound importance, and parental warmth is a key factor,” said VanderWeele.

Hypothesis for why Ritalin affects attention fails, scientists remain baffled

Methylphenidate (MPH), commonly known as Ritalin, is the most widely prescribed drug worldwide to treat patients with attention deficit disorders. Although MPH is thought to modulate catecholamine neurotransmission in the brain, it remains unclear how these neurochemical effects influence neuronal activity and lead to attentional enhancements. Studies in rodents point to the prefrontal cortex (PFC) [a brain region central to attention ] as the main target of MPH. To validate these findings in primates, we trained macaque monkeys to perform an attention task while under various doses of MPH. We also chronically implanted multielectrode arrays in the posterior PFC of these monkeys to record neuronal ensemble activity during the task. Surprisingly, we found no effect of the drug on neuronal activity, even at cognitive-enhancing doses of MPH. The caudal prefrontal cortex might not be the site of action of MPH in the primate brain.

Ian’s thoughts: We’re led to believe that psychiatric drugs are like insulin for diabetics, supplying missing components and thereby restoring normal function and health. The truth is nothing of the sort, and this study is just another example that scientists are surprisingly clueless about the precise neurological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders and the chemical interventions used to modify them. A situation Dr. Breggin has been observing for decades and that remains steadfastly true to this day.

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 February 26, 2019

The Film on mind control, The Minds of Men, passes 1.3 million viewers on YouTube

Featuring Dr. Peter Breggin, the free full-length documentary on federal support of mind control, The Minds of Men, has now exceeded 1.3 million viewers on YouTube with hundreds of thousands more in other venues.  The Minds of Men is not about conspiracy theories.  The documentary proves efforts by the CIA, the Justice Department, federal health agencies like NIMH and NIH, and wealthy “philanthropic” trusts to support sensory deprivation, electroshock (ECT), lobotomy and psychosurgery, and other horrendous experiments on human beings. 

Although the ads for the film emphasize Dr. Breggin’s contributions, it covers many additional clandestine projects that were unknown to him until disclosed by the filmmakers and researcher Aaron and Melissa Dykes.  These organized clandestine efforts often involved high-ranking government officials and respected figures in psychiatry, psychology and medicine.  Dr. Breggin and Ginger Breggin led successful campaigns that stopped two of the largest, best-documented projects, one dealing with a giant federal eugenics program  called the Violence Initiative and the other involving psychosurgery.  In books and in scientific articles the Breggins describe their project and their successful efforts to stop them.  On their website,, they provide a broad introduction to their efforts in Psychiatry as an Instrument of Social and Political Control

Mindfulness may help middle managers avoid burnout: study

MINDFULNESS training programmes can be beneficial for the well-being of middle managers, a new research has found.  In particular, such training can help middle managers cope with the stress and emotional exhaustion commonly associated with their jobs, say researchers in a study published in the Academy of Management Proceedings. […] Compared to the control group, middle managers who completed the mindfulness training programme reported substantial reductions in stress levels and emotional exhaustion, which are precursors to burnout, the researchers found. Participants also reported increased levels of psychological detachment, suggesting that mindfulness training may improve well-being by helping employees maintain a distance from challenging or upsetting work events, the study noted. […] Current findings of the study show that a relatively short mindfulness training programme can benefit middle management leaders, and potentially other categories of employees as well. 

Urban parks boost happiness: Study

Spending 20 minutes in an urban park will make someone happier regardless of whether they engage in exercise during the visit, a study has found. According to the study, published in International Journal of Environmental Health Research, urban parks have been recognised as key neighbourhood places that provide residents with opportunities to experience nature and engage in various activities. Through contact with the natural environment and engagement in health-promoting and/or social and recreational activities in parks, users experience physical and mental health benefits such as stress reduction and recovery from mental fatigue. […] “Overall, we found park visitors reported an improvement in emotional well-being after the park visit,” said Hon K Yuen, a professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US. “However, we did not find levels of physical activity are related to improved emotional well-being. Instead, we found time spent in the park is related to improved emotional well-being,” said Yuen.

Be yourself at work — It’s healthier and more productive

At work, it’s healthier and more productive just to be yourself, according to a new study from Rice University, Texas A&M University, the University of Memphis, Xavier University, Portland State University and the University of California, Berkeley. The study, “Stigma Expression Outcomes and Boundary Conditions: A Meta-Analysis” will appear in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Business and Psychology. It examines 65 studies focusing on what happens after people in a workplace disclose a stigmatized identity, such as sexual orientation, mental illness, physical disability or pregnancy. […] However, the research overwhelmingly indicates that people with non-visible stigmas (such as sexual orientation or health problems) who live openly at work are happier with their overall lives and more productive in the workplace. King said self-disclosure is typically a positive experience because it allows people to improve connections, form relationships with others and free their minds of unwanted thoughts. 

Anger and Happiness Can Be Contagious — Here’s How To Stop or Start The Spread

Even if you’re not aware of it, it’s likely that your emotions will influence someone around you today. This can happen during our most basic exchanges, say on your commute to work. “If someone smiles at you, you smile back at them,” says sociologist Nicholas Christakis of Yale University. “That’s a very fleeting contagion of emotion from one person to another.” […] For instance, Christakis’ research has shown that if you start to become happier with your life, a friend living close by has a 25 percent higher chance of becoming happy too. And your partner is more likely to feel better as well. The happiness can even spread to people to whom you’re indirectly connected. To document this, Christakis and his colleagues mapped out the face-to-face interactions of about 5,000 people living in one town over the course of 32 years. Their emotional ups and downs were documented with periodic surveys. “We were able to show that as one person became happy or sad, it rippled through the network,” Christakis says. It’s not just happiness that spreads. Unhappiness and anger can be contagious too. […] So, just how far does this go? A study of nearly 700,000 Facebook users suggests we can pick up on — and mirror — the emotions we encounter in our social media feeds too. As part of the study, users’ news feeds were altered. Some people in the study began to see more positive posts, while others began to see more negative posts. “We found that when good things were happening in your news feed — to your friends and your family — you also tended to write more positively and less negatively,” says Jeff Hancock, a communications researcher at Stanford University and author the two studies on digital interactions

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

By Dr. Peter Breggin

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

News & Information for February 25, 2019

Institutional Corruption in the Cochrane Collaboration

By Peter Gøtzsche, MD… Throughout my 25 years with Cochrane, I have fought to maintain our freedom and ideals, and to retain Cochrane’s structure as a bottom-up idealistic grassroots organization, free from commercial conflicts of interest. […] The moral decline in Cochrane started in 2011 and accelerated when a new CEO, Mark Wilson, was employed in 2012, who does not seem to understand what science is about but focuses on “brand” and “business” instead of getting the science right and fostering free scientific debate. He favours scientific censorship and was unfortunately supported in this by a majority of the Cochrane Governing Board when I was expelled by the Board in September 2017 and later fired from my job as head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen. Our access to documents in Denmark via the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the CEO had required my dismissal, although he had no mandate to make such a requirement. […]

I have put it all behind me and will launch an Institute for Scientific Freedom on 9 March in Copenhagen, which has these visions:

  • All science should strive to be free from financial conflicts of interest.
  • All science should be published as soon as possible and made freely accessible.
  • All scientific data, including study protocols, should be freely accessible, allowing others to do their own analyses.

There is huge interest in this initiative, which is a good sign. The Institute will contribute to developing a better healthcare where more people will benefit and fewer will be harmed by the interventions they receive. We aim to make a substantial contribution to credible and trustworthy medical evidence that our society values and needs, and we stand for pluralistic, open scientific debate, open access to data, and open publishing.

Antidepressant Side Effects

Do antidepressants cause side effects? Yes, antidepressants can react poorly with your body and create unwanted side effects. Some side effects are temporary and will go away. Certain antidepressants will also change your personality. But some side effects don’t go away and become real physical or emotional problems. […] Problems with sex. This ranges from loss of sexual interest to wanting lots of sex. There’s also erectile dysfunction and decreased orgasm. Weight gain. You’re gaining weight even though you’re not eating any differently than before. Some weight gain can be caused by edema, which happens when your small blood vessels leak fluid into nearby tissue. Emotional numbness. Not feeling like yourself. Reduced positive feelings, caring less about others, feeling like you’re addicted, and feeling suicidal. Physical symptoms and pain. Nausea. Dry mouth which can cause problems for teeth. Constipation. Joint and muscle pain. Headaches and rashes. Muscle cramps or weakness. Shaking or tremors in body parts. […] Antidepressants are supposed to change mood. But they can cause changes in your behaviour. Because of a side effect, you might be doing things differently than you would normally. So if you’re suddenly gaining weight but not eating any more than before, you might start eating even less because you want to lose weight. These kinds of behaviour changes are common.

Risk for PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder Increased With Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) increases the risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or major depressive disorder (MDD) in a civilian population, according to an article published in JAMA Psychiatry. Level of education, race/ethnicity, history of mental health problems, and cause of injury also influence risk. […] The researchers suggested that the finding of increased risk for PTSD, but not MDD, with an injury that occurs as the result of an assault or other form of violence speaks to the importance of the context of the injury for the psychopathology of PTSD. It also suggests that cognitive behavioral interventions may be important early in the healing process. The researchers also argued that the results of this study may have implications for the identification of at-risk individuals and the subsequent surveillance and treatment of mental disorders after mTBI. They also note that because of study limitations, it was not possible to find a reason for the increased risk for PTSD or MDD after mTBI for black individuals.

Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry – by Peter Breggin, MD

A comprehensive contemporary scientific reference on brain dysfunctions and behavioral abnormalities produced by psychiatric drugs including Prozac, Xanax, Halcion, Ritalin, and lithium. Dr. Breggin shows that psychiatric drugs achieve their primary or essential effect by causing brain dysfunction. Many of Breggin’s findings have improved clinical practice, led to legal victories against drug companies, and resulted in FDA-mandated changes in what the manufacturers must admit about their drugs.

News & Information for February 23 – 24, 2019

Listen to Judith Orloff, MD on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, discussion of empathy and empaths

My guest is Los Angeles psychiatrist Judith Orloff and as I predicted in my Frequent Alert before the show, it was an astonishingly inspiring and educational hour about the empathic side of us human beings, and especially about those of us who are empaths and who very deeply experience the people and the environment around us.  I talked more than usual about my wife Ginger, who is a profound empath, or “highly sensitive person,” and continued to understand her better through Judith’s words. What better endorsement can I give to Judith and to her work! I spoke about the special dangers of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs to highly sensitive, empathic people. We also had great callers, and at one point my connectivity to my own show broke down for several minutes, but Judith and the caller stayed engaged on the continuing live show without noticing my absence. Exciting! One of the best programs we’ve had.

Study goes beyond correlation reporting evidence that exercise causes reduced depression risk

Jogging for 15 minutes a day, or walking or gardening for somewhat longer, could help protect people against developing depression, according to an innovative new study published last month in JAMA Psychiatry. The study involved hundreds of thousands of people and used a type of statistical analysis to establish, for the first time, that physical activity may help prevent depression, a finding with considerable relevance for any of us interested in maintaining or bolstering our mental health. Plenty of past studies have examined the connections between exercise, moods and psychological well-being. And most have concluded that physically active people tend to be happier and less prone to anxiety and severe depression than people who seldom move much. But those past studies showed only that exercise and depression are linked [ie, they only showed a correlation], not that exercise actually causes a drop in depression risk. [ So how to measure cause? ] Enter Mendelian randomisation. This is a relatively new type of “data science hack” being used to analyse health risks […] when they applied Mendelian randomisation to exercise and depression […] the scientists found that, statistically, the ideal amount of exercise to prevent depression started at about 15 minutes a day of running or other strenuous exercise. Less-taxing activities like fast walking, housework and so on also afforded protection against depression, but it took about an hour a day to have an effect. 

What Is Gratitude? What Difference Does It Make To Feel It?

Several studies link gratitude with increased health and well-being. For example, a summary of some of them from the University of California at Davis, finds “The practice of gratitude can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide.” […] As lead author Robert A. Emmons  pointed out, “Gratitude blocks toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret and depression, which can destroy our happiness.” Other studies show similar findings linking gratitude with health and well-being. For example, research from the University of Montana and published in the Review of Communication, found that gratitude is associated with psychological well-being and increased positive states such as life satisfaction, vitality, hope, and optimism. It also contributes to decreased levels of depression, anxiety, envy, and job-related stress and burnout. Moreover, people who experience and express gratitude have reported fewer symptoms of physical illness, more exercise, and better quality of sleep.

Are teens getting high on social media? The surprising study seeking the pot-Instagram link

In a groundbreaking study, a University of California, San Diego (UCSD), psychiatrist is investigating whether social media affects the adolescent brain in the same way as cannabis. […] “Psychiatrists don’t recognise excessive social media use as addictive behaviour,” said Dr Kara Bagot, a child psychiatrist and assistant professor in residency at UCSD […] “There are studies already that show video games, computer games, social media and increased tech use associated with poor outcomes in physical health, mental health and risk-taking,” she said. “We have to have more conversations about how to responsibly use social media.” […] In a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, 95% of teens said they had a smart phone, the device most often used to access social media. Moreover, 89% said they were online “almost constantly” or “several times a day”.

Psychological Interventions Can Help When Tapering Off Antidepressants

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in Annals of Family Medicine compared the effects of antidepressant tapering procedures across twelve studies. The study authors conclude that there is some evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can aid in tapering procedures, but more research is needed. “Although some people need antidepressants to prevent relapse/recurrence, 30-50% of long-term users have no evidence-based indication to continue their medication,” the authors write. “This inappropriate use exposes patients to potentially serious adverse effects.” […] Overall, tapering is much more effective when conducted with specialist psychological or psychiatric interventions (40-95%). More studies are needed that report on discontinuation symptoms. The available evidence suggests that abrupt discontinuation increases discontinuation syndrome and that CBT while tapering leads to significantly lower rates of relapse/recurrence. Additionally, MBCT with tapering was effective in helping patients achieve discontinuation without increasing relapse/recurrence.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) may cause permanent brain damage and ‘should be stopped’, top expert warns

Controversial electric shock treatment for severe depression could cause permanent brain damage and ‘should be stopped’, a leading psychologist has claimed.

  • Shock treatment for severe depression could cause permanent brain damage
  • More than 5,000 British psychiatric patients receive ECT each year, report says
  • One mental health patient said she was given 21 sessions of ECT in a single year
  • Study found that up to half of patients who receive the treatment will experience symptoms of brain damage

A review of ten NHS mental health trusts, carried out by Professor John Read from the University of East London, has revealed that one patient in three is given electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, without their consent. Prof Read’s Freedom of Information requests also showed a third of NHS trusts were failing to recognise adverse effects, which include long-term memory loss. […] ‘By the time I finished ECT I was left with an inability to recognise faces, my hands shook uncontrollably and I couldn’t walk in a straight line. I fell over repeatedly and couldn’t walk through doors without bumping into the frames. My speech was slurred and I had word- finding problems. It took me three years to learn to read again.’ […] up to half of patients who receive the treatment will experience symptoms of brain damage some years later. Similarly, a 2014 Royal College of Psychiatrists survey found long-term severe memory loss and cognitive problems occurred in 20 per cent of the 192 patients questioned.

Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and their Families

Nothing in the field of mental health will do more good and reduce more harm than encouraging withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. The time is past when the focus in mental health was on what drugs to take for what disorders. Now we need to focus on how to stop taking psychiatric drugs and to replace them with more person-centered, empathic approaches. The goal is no longer drug maintenance and stagnation; the goal is recovery and achieving well-being.

News & Information for February 22, 2019

Oxford scientist refutes media mis-coverage and spin of their study

From gender bias to media bias? A thread on how our study looking at adult perceptions of children’s pain got misconstrued. A reminder of the importance of taking media coverage with a grain of salt, reading original studies when possible, and guarding against confirmation bias. I’ll start with what you may have heard our study showed, then explain what our study actually showed. Here are some sample headlines: “A new study finds Americans take the pain of girls less seriously than that of boys” (@CNN ); “Study shows sexism starts early…” (@USATODAY). […] First, the effect in our study was observed only in female participants–not “Americans” or “parents” or “people” in general. In fact, male participants rated girl pain higher than boy pain (albeit not to a statistically significant degree). Second, we did not measure “sexism” or “credibility” or the extent to which adult raters “cared” about the pain of boys vs. girls–or even whether they took the pain of boys “more seriously” than that of girls. And we certainly did not show that pain is “often missed” in girls.

Ian’s thoughts: So lo and behold, the study actually found that men rated the pain of girls higher than the pain of boys, the endpoint media presented as what misogyny is not. But I guess any indication that men feel more empathy for females doesn’t fit with the “toxic masculinity” thesis, all the rage nowadays. The findings seem more compatible with Professor Fiamengo’s counter-thesis: “tonic masculinity.

The dangers of taking MDMA when you’re on antidepressants

Taking MDMA isn’t recommended regardless of your mental health status, but when you’re taking antidepressants it can cause a number of extra problems. […] ‘MDMA partly produces it effects by entering neurons and increasing the release of a neurochemical in the brain called serotonin (5-HT), and then also preventing recycling of 5-HT back into neurons.’ Most common antidepressants are called SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and do a similar thing; what Sumnall calls the ‘chemical recycling process’. However, due to the fact MDMA has all sorts of other effects on the brain, you don’t get a similar high from taking an SSRI. He continues: ‘SSRIs, particularly at high doses, have their own negative effects, including tremors and nausea, and in more serious cases seizures and a loss of consciousness. ‘But mixing SSRIs with MDMA  will actually decrease the desired effects of MDMA as the SSRIs compete with MDMA for access to the neuron, meaning that MDMA cannot exert its full effects.’

How mindfulness can help business leaders become more positive

From meditation retreats and relaxation rooms to yoga breaks between meetings, organizations are increasingly turning to mindfulness practices in a bid to offset stress in the workplace and help employees find inner happiness. Now a new study from the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business suggests mindfulness can also have powerful effects on stressed-out leaders. Specifically, “mindfulness helps you to avoid negative or abusive behaviours while encouraging more transformational and positive behaviours, despite how emotionally exhausted you may feel,” says Megan Walsh, an assistant professor at the Saskatoon school and the study’s lead author. Mindfulness is a centuries-old Buddhist philosophy. It is defined in the study as “a receptive attention to and awareness of present events and experience. You are fully engaged in the present moment – like a sponge soaking everything up,” adds Dr. Walsh.

Study: Antidepressants and the risk of traumatic brain injury in the elderly

Objective: To determine the association of individual antidepressants (ADs) with the risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the elderly. […] Conclusion: In this large cohort of unselected elderly new users of ADs, the risk of TBI was increased in current users of most ADs compared to remote user of any AD. Taking into account a wide range of comorbidities, use of comedications and other potential confounding factors, we observed differences between individual agents. The increase in risk was higher in current users of duloxetine (>80%), fluoxetine, sertraline, citalopram and escitalopram (>60%), while it was lower in current users of paroxetine (57%), amitriptyline (45%), trimipramine (17%) and opipramol (11%). These results were consistent in subjects with and without depression or dementia, in men and women and across all age groups. While all examined individual SSRIs had a higher risk than the individual TCAs, the large variability between individual ADs shows the importance of considering the safety of individual agents rather than focusing on class alone.

How childhood infections and antibiotics may increase risks of mental illness

Hospitalization for an infection might leave you at greater risk for mental illness, according to a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry, which draws on data from youth in Denmark up to the age of 17 years. The authors also found that antibiotic use was associated with even higher risk for mental illness. This connection is thought to be, in part, because antibiotics affect bacteria in the intestinal microbiome. The study — which supports emerging theories about the functional interaction between infection, the gut microbiome and mental illness — is one of close to 50 papers published using data from the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Register since the latter half of 2018. […] It has been suggested that the gut microbiome, the hugely diverse bacterial community that we host in our intestines, sends out signals to the brain, modulating our moods and, possibly, our susceptibility to mental illness. Animals depleted of gut bacteria using broad-spectrum antibiotics exhibited changes in various disorders including autism spectrumneurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

New Robotic Aid for Drug-free Depression Treatment

MagVenture has added the new FDA-approved robotic platform to its clinical system. The TMS-Cobot, will help further elevate the rapidly growing field of neuromodulation, commonly known as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy–– is an effective, non-invasive option for the large number of patients who fail to respond to antidepressants. During treatment, magnetic pulses are applied with a magnetic coil to a certain part of the patient’s brain. This area is the entry-point for treatment as the pulses reach the neural network that controls mood and emotion, potentially alleviating the depression. Patients are fully awake during treatment and can return to their normal activities immediately following the TMS session. Typically, patients will receive a total of 20–30 sessions, one per weekday.

Talking Back to Prozac, What Doctors Aren’t Telling You

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

Authors Peter R Breggin MD and Ginger Breggin have re-released their seminal book Talking Back to Prozac: What Doctors Aren’t Telling You About Prozac and the Newer Antidepressants with a new introduction and new information about the SSRI antidepressants, including the granddaddy of them all—Prozac. 

News & Information for February 21, 2019

Alternative, Science-Based Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men

The American Psychological Association’s “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men” have received much criticism from journalists and professional psychologists. Much of the opposition has centered on the guideline’s attack on “traditional masculinity” and the privileging of activism over evidence-based treatment. One of the few redeeming features of the guidelines is their acknowledgement that men face unique physical, psychological, educational, and social challenges and are less likely to seek psychological treatment to meet those challenges. But the guidelines fail in their targeted goal of preparing therapists to help the men under their care. Throughout the entirety of the APA’s guidelines, discussion of evolutionary influences on men’s psychological development is either unintentionally neglected or willfully avoided […] Denying that biology, from genes to hormones to neurotransmitters, plays a role in shaping men’s masculine self-expression is, to say the least, a scientifically untenable position. In the current article, I offer seven alternative, evolution-informed guidelines for therapists treating boys and men—ones that I hope are less ideologically-driven than the APA’s and that take seriously the inextricable link between the mind and the body and the fact that men and women exhibit psychological differences for evolutionary reasons. 

New study highlights significance of resilience training

A world-first study shows that online resilience training can make a significant impact to the mental health and wellbeing of emergency workers. […] University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Workplace Mental Health Research Team, the Black Dog Institute and Fire and Rescue NSW have worked together to publish a study examining whether an online mindfulness-based program could effectively enhance resilience among first responders to high-risk situations – namely police, fire and ambulance workers. The findings showed that the training helps to significantly increase psychological resilience and adaptive levels, and boost optimism and healthy coping strategies in emergency workers. The study also promotes the importance of organisations adopting this type of training to improve and maintain optimum mental health in the workplace. ‘First responders face unique challenges, and it is important they are provided with the very best training and support,’ Sadhbh Joyce, Senior Psychologist and PhD Candidate at UNSW’s Workplace Mental Health Research Team, said.

Loneliness Is Bad for Your Health. An App May Help.

Loneliness is bad for your health. Social isolation is associated with a significantly increased risk of premature death. And the problem resists fixing; solitary people who participate in experiments meant to nudge them into joining groups tend to have high rates of recidivism. According to a study published this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, however, it might be possible to reduce loneliness by using cellphones to teach a particular type of meditation. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and several other institutions recruited 153 men and women who considered themselves stressed out — the study was slightly mischaracterized to disguise a primary concern, loneliness. Next, the volunteers completed questionnaires: They were asked about their social networks, their interactions with others and their feelings of loneliness, if any. Their baseline levels of sociability were established through texts that prodded them to answer questions about what they were doing and with whom. This monitoring lasted three days.

Peer support, healing hands may curb prescription opioid misuse

A program offering group support, acupuncture, mindfulness, massage and gentle exercise may help prevent patients on prescription opioids from spiraling down to drug misuse, overdose and death, according to a study led by researchers at UCSF. The study, published Feb. 20, 2019, in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, tracked the impact of a program for low-income, at-risk patients with chronic pain at Tom Waddell Urban Health Clinic, in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, a public health facility where UCSF medical students are trained and mentored. “Opioids are often prescribed to patients with moderate-to-severe pain from chronic health conditions, or for pain following injury or surgery,” said first author Maria T. Chao, DrPH, MPA, of the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. “Because of the potential dangers of opioid use, we wanted to see if a multimodal, non-pharmacological program could decrease pain levels and stabilize prescription opioid use in vulnerable patients with high rates of pain and barriers to care.”

Friendly texts tied to fewer suicide attempts in the military

Military service members who are at risk for suicide may be less likely to attempt to harm themselves when they receive supportive text messages, a U.S. study suggests. Soldiers in the study had all received behavioral health services for considering or attempting suicide in the past, and all were on active duty, in the Reserve or in the National Guard. They all received standard treatments like medication or psychotherapy as needed; half of the 650 participants were also randomly assigned to received occasional texts with messages like “hope you’re having a good day.” Over the course of a year, people who received these texts were 44 percent less likely to experience suicidal thoughts and 48 percent less likely to attempt suicide than those who didn’t get the messages. “Social disconnection is one of the strongest and most established risk factors for suicide,” said study co-author Amanda Kerbrat. […] “One wonders if active-duty military personnel and reservists, who are embedded in a rich social milieu that, if nothing else, is hardly isolating, are likely to have their perceptions of belongingness altered by 11 text messages over a year,” Stein and his coauthors write.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for February 20, 2019

Researchers study how mindfulness meditation affects students

The practice was once synonymous with yoga studios. These days, even major corporations offer the training to employees. Mindfulness practices involve focusing on the present and on breathing. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are studying the effects of mindfulness training on students in urban elementary schools. Before students at Baltimore City public schools start reading and writing, they begin the day with reflection by participating in a daily two-minute-long mindfulness exercise. “A lot of these students are coming into school in a state of fight or flight,” Dr. Tamar Mendelson, with Johns Hopkins University, said. Mendelson analyzed mindfulness instruction in Baltimore public schools as elementary students were trained on breathing techniques and yoga poses for 45 minutes four times a week for 12 weeks. Before and after the program, students were surveyed about how they reacted to stress. The survey suggested that the children had less rumination and fewer intrusive thoughts after the training. The school offers a mindful moments room where a certified instructor leads students through exercises if they seem stressed in the classroom. Baltimore is not the only place with mindfulness in the classroom. More than 300 schools will have their students practice mindfulness in a study to improve youth mental health.

Risk for Psychosis Linked With Childhood Trauma, Life Events, and Isolation

High risk for psychosis is associated with less social support, more life events, and greater childhood trauma, according to a study recently published in Psychiatry Research. These may be risk factors for psychosis and merit further research into interventional approaches.  […] The study researchers conclude that “in comparison to healthy controls, high-risk individuals experienced [more severe] childhood trauma and significantly more life events meanwhile perceived poorer social support, which may be the risk factors of conversion to psychosis and may possibly bring about deterioration in overall function. Thus, this study greatly called for attention to further exploration to develop optimal psychosocial interventions, which may be beneficial in improving symptoms of high-risk individuals and may therefore help to delay and reduce conversion to psychosis.” 

Keep calm and don’t carry on when parenting teens

The field of adolescent psychology is increasingly focused on parents, with researchers asking how mothers and fathers control themselves (and their rising anger) in difficult interactions with their children. As anyone who has raised a teenager knows, parental goals often don’t exactly align with those of the child. Sometimes, not even close.  […] The researchers found that those parents–both mothers and fathers–who were less capable of dampening down their anger, as measured by RMSSD, were more likely to resort, over time, to the use of harsh, punitive discipline and hostile conflict behavior vis-à-vis their teenager. The scientists also measured parents’ set-shifting capacity–that is, the parents’ ability to be flexible and to consider alternative factors, such as their child’s age and development. […] On average, fathers were not as good as mothers at set shifting and were less able to control their physiological anger response. As a result, they were more likely to think that their teen was intentionally difficult, or “just trying to push buttons,” which in turn guided their decisions about discipline. However, the researchers found that those fathers who were better at set shifting than others were also better able to counteract difficulties in physiological regulation. 

Hormone therapy during gender transition may raise risk for heart attack, stroke, blood clots

People who receive hormone therapy while undergoing gender transition face an increased risk of suffering from potentially deadly heart conditions, according to a study published by the American Heart Association. The research, carried out by a team of Dutch researchers, showed that hormone treatments worsen one’s risk for several cardiovascular issues including strokes, heart attack, and blood clots in individuals undergoing transition. […] Transgender women had more than twice as many strokes as women and nearly twice as many strokes as men. More than twice as many transwomen patients also suffered heart attacks compared to women, and five times as many blood clots. Conversely, transgender men were three times as likely to suffer a heart attack compared to women. “In light of our results, we urge both physicians and transgender individuals to be aware of this increased cardiovascular risk,” says study author Dr. Nienke Nota.

Why scientists say experiencing awe can help you live your best life

Psychologists say the emotion of awe plays a big role in our health, happiness and wellbeing. And you don’t need to witness a supermoon to experience it. Maybe you’ve felt it standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Maybe it happens when you think about the vastness of space or glance up at the sky and marvel at a supermoon. Or maybe you feel it when you see someone offer up a seat on a crowded train to another individual they’ve never met. The emotion is awe. And, psychologists say it can play an important role in bolstering happiness, health and our social interactions — and it may have actually long played a role in how and why humans get along and ultimately cooperate with one another. “People feeling awe focus more of their attention outward and value others more in social interactions,” Jennifer Stellar, PhD, assistant professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto, tells NBC News BETTER. (Stellar has also studied the effect of awe on the body’s immune system. More on that below.)

Your Drug May Be Your Problem – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD