Close

June 13, 2018

Daily Breaking News & Information

Including Links to Stories Mentioned on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour

on www.PRN.fm Live on Wednesdays at 4 pm New York time.

Dr. Breggin’s radio program is archived here

News 2018

News 2019

 

 

News & Information for February 17, 2019

Meta-analysis finds asking patients about suicidal thoughts does not predict suicide

New data from a meta-analysis published in BJPsych Open found that the presence or absence of suicide-related thoughts or expressions of suicidal ideation does not predict later suicide. A team of researchers in Australia, led by Catherine M. McHugh, assessed the strength of this association by synthesizing the findings across 70 relevant empirical studies. These findings provide insight into the common practice of asking about suicidal ideation and thoughts to predict whether or not one will later complete suicide. McHugh and team highlight that common practice hinges upon the ability to assess suicide risk based on suicidal ideation screenings accurately: “Clinicians sometimes rely on suicidal ideation as a crucial test for short-term suicide risk, and it has been argued that asking about suicidal ideation could form part of a screening test for later suicide.” […] The authors summarize their findings: “Our study suggests that suicidal ideation is not sensitive enough to be very helpful as a stand-alone screening test for suicide in psychiatric or non-psychiatric settings.”

Sugar industry found high-sugar diet promotes heart disease and cancer and covered it up

In 1965, the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) secretly funded a review in the New England Journal of Medicine that discounted evidence linking sucrose consumption to blood lipid levels and hence coronary heart disease (CHD). SRF subsequently funded animal research to evaluate sucrose’s CHD risks. […] The results suggested to SRF that gut microbiota have a causal role in carbohydrate-induced hypertriglyceridemia. A study comparing conventional rats fed a high-sugar diet to those fed a high-starch diet suggested that sucrose consumption might be associated with elevated levels of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme previously associated with bladder cancer in humans. SRF terminated Project 259 without publishing the results. The sugar industry did not disclose evidence of harm from animal studies that would have (1) strengthened the case that the CHD risk of sucrose is greater than starch and (2) caused sucrose to be scrutinized as a potential carcinogen. The influence of the gut microbiota in the differential effects of sucrose and starch on blood lipids, as well as the influence of carbohydrate quality on beta-glucuronidase and cancer activity, deserve further scrutiny.

Study: Radiation from smartphones may impair memory in teens

A research team at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute says that radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) may negatively affect an adolescent’s brain from cellphone exposure, causing potentially harmful effects on his or her memory performance. The authors say having the device close to one’s head lead to the greatest amount of radiation exposure. The researchers studied nearly 700 public school students in Switzerland between ages 12 and 17. They examined how RF-EMF exposure from mobile phones over a year’s time affected memory in the adolescents, and found that memory processed and stored in the right brain hemisphere was particularly worsened. It’s believed that participants primarily held the phone up to the right side of their heads when talking, which likely led to the right hemisphere impairment. “This may suggest that indeed RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed associations. […] Potential risks to the brain can be minimized by using headphones or the loud speaker while calling, in particular when network quality is low and the mobile phone is functioning at maximum power,” says Röösli.

Brotherly Love? Study reveals why older siblings bully

Researchers at the University of Warwick wanted to know what causes siblings to pick on one another. They studied different elements that might play a factor — things such as parenting styles, family structure, early social interactions and children’s temperaments. “Sibling bullying is the most frequent form of family violence and it is often seen as a normal part of growing up by parents and health professionals […] “But there is increasing evidence that it can have long-term consequences, like increased loneliness, delinquency and mental health problems.” […] “Bullying occurs in situations where we cannot choose our peers, like in families,” says Wolke. “Siblings live in close quarters and the familiarity allows them to know what buttons to press to upset their brothers or sisters. This can go both ways and allows a child to be both a victim and a perpetrator of bullying.” Two main factors were found to predict bullying by middle childhood: family structure and gender. “Bullying was more likely to occur in families with three or more children and the eldest child or older brothers were more often the bullies,” says co-author Slava Dantchev. “Female children and younger children were more often targeted.”

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 15 – 16, 2019

What causes heart disease? How love affects heart health

Love can offer important protections for the heart just as the lack of it can have profound health consequences. For centuries, people have thought of the heart as the command center of love, and the notion endures even as research shows most everything related to affection, attraction and adoration happens in the brain. Still, an organ that beats faster whenever a loved one comes near or aches when a partner is gone is clearly a part of the story. Even if the biological pump isn’t the seat of emotions, it’s extraordinarily sensitive to our emotional system, writes Dr. Sandeep Jauhar […] “People who have unhealthy or difficult relationships, that can cause chronic low-level stress, which can also accelerate heart disease… so we need to focus more on the metaphorical heart and less on the biomechanical heart to continue to make the kinds of advances that we have made in the last 50-60 years.” A person’s capacity to love can be a matter of life and death, Jauhar writes. Indeed, recent studies have found heart patients who are divorced, separated, widowed or never-married have a higher risk of dying than their married counterparts. Married people also have a lower risk of developing heart disease than singles and they’re more likely to survive a heart attack.

The Potentially Fatal Side Effect of Taking Antidepressants

After about 10 days of being on my full doses of my old and new medications, I began to experience some symptoms. I was nauseous, my arms and hands had a constant, slight shake, and I was unable to sleep at night. At first, I chalked these symptoms up to side effects of switching medications. That is until my symptoms started to worsen and new ones arose. My nausea increased, I began having diarrhea (gross, I know), my shake moved into my jaw and legs, and I continued to be unable to sleep. […] One day, about 12 days into taking my full doses of both old and new medications, I had a scary episode. I was in my office and my body began to violently shake. I went into my boss’ office so I wouldn’t have to be alone. My jaw, shoulders, arms, hands, stomach, legs, and feet were violently shaking with tremors I had never experienced before […] The next day, I went into my office for a meeting and another episode ensued. Again, I had full-body tremors and was afraid of having a seizure or passing out. 

The prevailing wisdom is that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the first-line treatment for insomnia

[T]he prevailing wisdom is that cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves changing habits and bedtime rituals, is the first-line treatment for insomnia. Sleep experts say CBT is more effective and longer lasting than medication for most people — but maybe you’re not most people. “There’s clearly a subset of patients who don’t improve with CBT,” says Andrew Krystal, who directs the sleep research program at the University of California at San Francisco. Another thing to consider before looking at medications is that sleep troubles often result from something else, such as sleep apnea or depression. Also, alcohol and caffeine intake can interfere with good sleep, as can certain medications, says Constance Dunlap, a D.C. psychiatrist in private practice. A doctor can help you rule out or address these issues. “I get a lot of information,” Dunlap says. For instance, a sleep study can identify awakenings from sleep apnea. “My patients who have tried CPAP?” Dunlap says, referring to continuous positive airway pressure therapy for sleep apnea. “One hundred percent of them feel better.” 

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 14, 2019

Smoking cannabis in your teens IS linked to depression in later life

Smoking cannabis in your teenage years raises the risk of depression and suicide in later life, a landmark new study has found. Researchers from the US and UK have revealed the drug could impair a child’s brain to the extent it triggers mental health disorders later in life. In the largest research of its kind, experts from Oxford University and McGill University estimated that over half a million adults in the UK and US could be saved from mental health disorders by avoiding the drug as a teenager. The teams have now warned that cannabis, legal in several US states and used by millions of young people is a significant public health risk with ‘devastating consequences’. They have urgently called for officials to make tackling use of the drug a priority. 

Too many older people given ‘antidepressants instead of therapy’

GPs are giving too many older people antidepressants when they are struggling with depression, and should prescribe talking therapies far more often, according to new research. Family doctors too often avoid talking to patients over the age of 65 about depression and do not have the time to explore and treat the condition properly, the study found. Almost one in 10 over-75s are thought to suffer from depression, while almost four in 10 (37.4%) exhibit some symptoms. However, the vast majority, 87%, are treated with medication, even though it often does not help, according to the findings. […] “There needs to be greater access to talking therapies. They are effective in older populations, but we know that GPs are less likely to refer those in their 80s to psychological therapies for depressive symptoms than those in their 50s and 60s,” said Rachael Frost, an academic at University College London and the lead author of the paper.

SSRI Antidepressant Drugs Interfere With Opioid Pain Relief

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants diminish the pain reduction effects of prodrug opioids according to a new study published inPLOS One.1 Researchers at Stanford University hypothesized that patients taking SSRI antidepressants who are prescribed a prodrug opioid will have greater postoperative pain. They used a machine learning approach to examine the effects of SSRI use on opioid types both before and after surgery. […] “There was theoretical evidence that suggested SSRIs might block prodrug opioids, but we didn’t know if it actually affected patient outcomes” noted Tina Hernandez-Boussard, PhD, a computational biologist and co-author of the study.2

Man, 56, took his own life after starting new medication

The family of a 56-year-old man who took his own life have blamed an antidepressant drug prescribed to him less than two weeks earlier. Richard Green, of Old Woodhall near Horncastle, started taking Citalopram after complaining of panic attacks brought on by increased anxiety. A resumed inquest into his death, held at Boston Coroner’s Court last Tuesday (Feb 12), heard that the level of the drug in his system was well within therapeutic levels. Giving a prepared statement, Mr Green’s sister, Angela Hill, said: “The family, siblings and parents believe that the prescription of the antidepressant drug Citalopram played a major part in Richard’s suicide. “In fact, we believe that, had he not been prescribed this drug, he would still be with us today. “We appreciate that the medical evidence shows that the drug was within normal levels in Richard’s bloodstream. “However, we believe that this drug adversely affected Richard’s state of mind.”

New study analyzes how falling in love influences the immune system in women

Falling in love is one of the most essential and psychologically potent events in human life.  However, the physical consequences of new romantic love remain poorly understood.  In a study that was three-years in the making, a group of researchers from Tulane University and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) combined efforts to study how falling in love is associated with changes in immune-related gene expression. […] “What we found was that women who fell in love had increased activity of genes involved in antiviral defenses, compared to when they began the study,” Murray said.  “No similar change was observed in women who did not fall in love. This could reflect a kind of a proactive response to anticipating future intimate contact, given that most viruses are spread via close physical contact.  However, this increased activity of antiviral genes is also consistent with the biological preparation of the body for pregnancy. From this women-only sample, both of these interpretations remain possible.”

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 13, 2019

New Study Pinpoints Why Sleep Is Often the Best Medicine

Today, a new study (Dimitrov et al., 2019) on the immunology behind sleep (and sleep deprivation) by researchers in Germany offers some fresh evidence-based clues about why “long sleep” has anecdotally been considered “one of the best cures in a doctor’s book” since temps immémorial.


This diagram shows how the effects of Gαs-coupled agonists on T cells can be
influenced by sleep or disease. Source: Dimitrov et al., 2019

As the diagram above illustrates, the researchers were able to identify how sleep improves the potential ability of immune T cells to adhere to their targets firmly. These findings help to explain why sleep improves our ability to fight off infection and how other day-to-day factors that are linked to insomnia (such as chronic stress) might make us more susceptible to illness. […] “Our results demonstrate that a couple of hours of sleep loss suffice to reduce the adhesion capacity of antigen-specific T cells,” the authors concluded. “This finding shows that sleep has the potential to enhance the efficiency of effector T cell responses, which is especially relevant in light of the high prevalence of sleep disorders and conditions characterized by impaired sleep, such as depression, chronic stress, aging, and shift work.” 

Does this Theory Hold the Secret to Healing America’s Division?

It’s clear that America is becoming increasingly divided, and if we remain on the path we’re on, things are only going to get worse. There will be more aggression in the streets, more gridlock in Washington, and that’s really just the beginning of how bad things can get. So, if we truly want to make America great, then we have to make a collective conscious effort to heal the division. And we have to do it soon, because if the division gets too severe, there might be a point of no return. But how do we fix this division problem? Well, science might have an answer to that. If we can understand how we became divided, then we can start to see how we might be able to reverse the process. While there are many explanations for such a complex issue, I believe one well-supported psychology theory explains the essence of the phenomenon better than all the others. That theory is called Terror Management Theory (TMT). TMT is based on the idea that human behavior is largely driven by our fear of death. Unlike all other animals, we have a conscious awareness of our own mortality. It is difficult to live a happy life knowing that you will someday die and not long after, all traces of your existence will be erased from history. According to TMT, as a way of dealing with this persistent existential fear, humans created cultural worldviews that instill our lives with meaning and purpose, and give us a sense of permanence.

People taking antidepressants are more likely to experience severe intestinal bleeding

A recent research review, published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, has found that patients taking antidepressants are 40% more expected to experience severe gastrointestinal bleeding. Specialists say individuals with depression while taking antidepressants should weigh the risks associated with these types of medications. Researchers noted that nearly 13% of Americans aged 12 and older take an antidepressant of some kind. Therefore, risks associated with antidepressants should be considered before taking them. This is because selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been found to carry an increased risk of internal bleeding. SSRIs are one of the most commonly prescribed classes of drugs used for the treatment of depression. […] SSRI have commonly prescribed medications like antidepressants, but they can also interact with common over-the-counter medicines in hostile ways. One of those major side effects is the gastrointestinal bleeding risk. It is very important to know the risk associated with any medication. Consult your physician about the medications you are taking, both prescription and nonprescription, and weigh the risks and benefits.

Study: Nursing homes underreported antipsychotic prescribing, but providers deny it

Nursing homes are underreporting the use of antipsychotics, a new study claims, but industry executives criticized researchers’ conclusions, citing the use of old data. Experts at Northeastern University published their work last week in the journal Aging & Mental Health. The researchers compared trends in self-reported antipsychotic prescribing relative to claims-based prescribing. In a review of self-reported data across nearly 12,000 skilled nursing facilities, the researchers said SNFs did not identify up to 6,000 residents per calendar quarter who were receiving antipsychotics. “This is the first time that this has ever actually been measured, how well they self-report antipsychotic use,” said Becky Briesacher, Ph.D., associate professor in Northeastern’s School of Pharmacy. “Since I’m the first one to say that we think there’s a gap, there isn’t any reason why anyone would have addressed it, because they didn’t even know it existed.”

Elderly less likely to be offered talking therapy for depression

Older people are more likely to be offered antidepressants and less likely to be offered talking therapies, than younger people, according to new research. The study carried out by University College London (UCL) and Bristol University found despite older people saying they preferred talking therapies such as counselling, they are less likely to be referred than younger adults, particularly when they are aged 80 and over. Researchers looked at 27 studies and found due to limited time in consultations and more complex needs, GPs and nurses often prioritised physical health over mental health, particularly when it came to frail patients. Dr Rachael Frost from UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care, lead author of the paper, said: “There needs to be greater access to talking therapies for older people suffering with depression.” […] “We do know that for many older patients, the underlying reasons for them visiting their GP might not be medical – they might be feeling lonely or be socially isolated. In these cases, it’s important that we have access to ‘social prescribing’ schemes to link these patients with an appropriate class or group in the community, that can have a positive effect on their health and wellbeing, and we welcome the focus on this in the NHS long term plan.”

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

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

News & Information for February 12, 2019

This Simple Practice Alleviates Loneliness & May Help You Live Longer

We often hear about the best workouts and diets to live a long life, but longevity relies on many other factors, as well. Loneliness and isolation, for example, can actually increase your risk for depression and even early mortality, but new research published in the journal PNAS may have found the key to solving this problem. The Carnegie Mellon study found people who did a smartphone-based mindfulness training reported feeling less lonely and were actually more social. Through a two-week mindfulness training on their smartphones, participants focused on one of three topics: awareness, coping, or mindfulness. Out of the three groups, those doing the mindfulness practices experience improved quality of life, whereas the other two groups didn’t see any change at all. The mindfulness group didn’t just feel better; they actually had on average two more social interactions per day after their training and reduced their loneliness by 22 percent. This is significant because social connection is a basic human need, and when lacking, you could suffer serious health consequences (some even report the mortality rate of loneliness to be greater than smoking 15 cigarettes a day).

Association Between Ultraprocessed Food Consumption and Risk of Mortality

Growing evidence indicates that higher intake of ultraprocessed foods is associated with higher incidence of noncommunicable diseases. However, to date, the association between ultraprocessed foods consumption and mortality risk has never been investigated. Objective: To assess the association between ultraprocessed foods consumption and all-cause mortality risk. […] Conclusions and Relevance  An increase in ultraprocessed foods consumption appears to be associated with an overall higher mortality risk among this adult population; further prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings and to disentangle the various mechanisms by which ultraprocessed foods may affect health.

Benzodiazepines and Related Drugs Associated With Increased Pneumonia Risk

Current or recent exposure to benzodiazepines and related drugs (BZRD) may increase the risk for pneumonia, according to results of a systematic review and meta-analysis published in theInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Investigators performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies that compared pneumonia development in patients receiving BZRD with pneumonia development in patients not receiving BZRD. […] Current or recent exposure to BZRD was associated with pneumonia across several independent studies. These data suggest that clinicians should carefully consider the risk-benefit ratio of BZRD use, particularly for patients with other risk factors for pneumonia.

Happiness research: the long-term effects of life events are overestimated

People are evidently not good at predicting their own happiness or unhappiness: key life events such as marriage, invalidity or the death of a partner affect well-being for less time than those affected think. […] The two researchers compared predicted life satisfaction with what the participants actually reported five years later. They focused on people who had experienced major life events such as marriage, the death of a partner, invalidity, unemployment, separation or divorce. This showed that the events had less of a long-term impact on predicted satisfaction than the participants assumed. As expected, the examined life events had a significant impact on the subjective well-being of those affected: positive events were linked to a strong increase in life satisfaction, and negative events to a strong decrease. However, people systematically underestimated how long the effect of an event would continue. The fluctuations in life satisfaction did not last long, but rather swung back completely or partially to the long-term level of previous years.

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 11, 2019

Part 3 of Dr. Breggin’s Minds of Men series: Confronting Psychosurgery: From Racism to Totalitarianism

This is PART III of Dr. Peter R. Breggin’s interview with filmmakers Aaron and Melissa Dykes in the making of The Minds of Men, a documentary in which Dr. Breggin is featured. In Part III he describes his discovery of secret government funding for psychosurgery as well as the racist pronouncements of Harvard neurosurgeons that got them the funding. 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.

Personally Confronting the Dismaying Politics of Psychosurgery: From Racism to Totalitarianism

Be sure to also see Part I and Part II

The Minds of Men documentary is an extraordinary success, quickly reaching nearly one million viewers, and rising. Dr. Breggin shares his feelings, thoughts and actions surrounding one of the most important accomplishments of his career: his successful international campaign to stop the world-wide resurgence of brain-mutilating lobotomy and psychosurgery. In the several segments, he describes his response to learning the truth about the hidden, devastating impact on children and adults and his discovery of the racist and political ambitions of leading psychiatrists and neurosurgeons. Dr. Breggin describes harrowing and sometimes triumphant confrontations with powerful professional and political leaders, including Senator Ted Kennedy and top officials at the American Psychiatric Association, who did their best to stop his reform work. He describes how the experience made him into a lifelong reformer.

New study finds health benefits of being kind to oneself

The study, published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, concluded that self-compassion had a very real impact on the students. Those who were asked to focus on their bodily sensations, as well as those told to think kind thoughts towards others and themselves, had lower heart rates and a lower sweat response at the end of the experiment. Unsurprisingly, the participants who were encouraged to think critically about themselves had a faster heart rate and greater sweat response. First author Dr. Hans Kirschner explained, “These findings suggest that being kind to oneself switches off the threat response and puts the body in a state of safety and relaxation that is important for regeneration and healing.” Dr. Anke Karl, lead researcher on the study, said, “Our study is helping us understand the mechanism of how being kind to yourself when things go wrong could be beneficial in psychological treatments. By switching off our threat response, we boost our immune systems and give ourselves the best chance of healing.” The researchers will go on to conduct similar studies involving participants with depression, Karl said.

The study says they used a mindfulness meditation “developed and recorded together with mindfulness teachers and eminent researchers with extensive expertise in mindfulness training.” Mindfulness meditation is taking science by storm with a steady stream of positive research results across a range of psychological endpoints. It seems we’re at the dawn of medical meditation — ancient wisdom distilled into scientifically validated psychotherapeutic modalities. 

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 10, 2019

Mum left with brain damage and memory loss after being given electric shock therapy

A mum given electric shock therapy when she was 17 has urged the NHS to stop using it on vulnerable teens. Jacqueline Dunn was in hospital for months and had four bouts of electro-convulsive therapy in as many weeks. But she claims the treatment – for severe depression and psychosis – left her with brain damage. She struggles with her memory and finds conversation difficult. Jacqueline, now 50, today calls on doctors to prescribe counselling and other forms of therapy. Her plea comes after a Sunday Mirror probe revealed NHS trusts do not offer any rehabilitation for long-term brain injury caused by ECT. Mum-of-two Jacqueline, from Sutton, Surrey, received the treatment while she was heavily medicated and can’t remember signing her own consent papers. She says: “I was put into an adult’s ward instead of a child’s ward and I was 17. “I felt they should have given more time for the medication to work. I really don’t know the ethics of doing the ECT. “I only saw the psychiatrist a few times. They didn’t even ask my mother.

Sleep soundly and safely with these tips

For Better Z’s

1. Move. No matter what your physical abilities, use your legs for at least 30 minutes a day. Get up and move around every 20-30 minutes when sitting. Over time, increase your physical activity to include interval aerobics (5 or more days a week) and strength training (two times a week).

2. Meditate. Set aside 12 minutes a day to meditate. Be quiet—no cells, no music, no internet. Sit in a comfortable position with good posture. Breathe in through your nose slowly for four seconds and exhale slowly through an open mouth for as long as you can. Build to eight seconds. Repeat the breathing rhythm while you let your mind drift. Recognize thoughts as they appear, and let them go. Say “Om-m-m,” and you’ll feel clearer and stronger.

3. Make the bedroom sleep-ready: No light (except nightlights emitting red wavelengths). No TV or phone. Use earplugs and eyeshades to limit light and sounds; maintain cool temp; use warm blankets.

Non-Pharmacological Interventions More Effective For Health in Schizophrenia

A study recently published in World Psychiatry reviewed meta-analyses of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for improving physical health outcomes for people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The study authors found that non-pharmacological interventions were more effective than pharmacological interventions for weight reduction and overall health, with individual lifestyle counseling as the most effective.  “People with schizophrenia have substantially poorer physical health than the general population, which is often attributed to an interaction between social circumstances, lifestyle factors and treatment effects,” the authors write.

Nutritional Psychiatry: The Gut-Brain Connection

There is truth in the saying, “you are what you eat.” We may often feel better when we eat better, and science has shown that it is in fact true—a healthy diet has an impact on physical health. Now, science is showing us that a healthy diet may have an impact on mental health. The impact that food has on mood and other aspects of mental illness is being researched. Nutritional psychiatry1 is developing into a real opportunity for clinical intervention for patients who suffer from depression and anxiety. Clinical practice has shown that psychiatric patients experience increased morbidity and mortality associated with a range of medical illnesses. In addition, lifestyle, psychiatric medications, and inadequate health care all contribute to the poor physical health of people with mental illness. Thus, nutritional interventions may be helpful to patients who want to combat the adverse effects of medications.

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 9, 2019

Terry Lynch, MD, interviewed on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour   

Between Terry Lynch MD and me, I think we have a hundred years of experience working with patients or clients, and that is what our show is about.  Terry, who lives and works in Ireland, began as family physician and became disillusioned with the psychiatric approach being taken to people with emotional suffering.  He bypassed psychiatry completely-an act of wisdom and courage-and became a psychotherapist.  He is a leader in the field of how to help people and I always find it useful and inspiring to talk with him.  Join Terry and me for a discussion that begins with a focus on love and moves on to broader issues in psychology and psychiatry, with many practical suggestions about how to help oneself and others live a more fulfilling life.  I benefitted and I think you will, too.

Soothing Your Heart and Feeling Connected: A New Experimental Paradigm to Study the Benefits of Self-Compassion

Self-compassion and its cultivation in psychological interventions are associated with improved mental health and well-being. However, the underlying processes for this are not well understood. We randomly assigned 135 participants to study the effect of two short-term self-compassion exercises on self-reported-state mood and psychophysiological responses compared to three control conditions of negative (rumination), neutral, and positive (excitement) valence. Increased self-reported-state self-compassion, affiliative affect, and decreased self-criticism were found after both self-compassion exercises and the positive-excitement condition. However, a psychophysiological response pattern of reduced arousal (reduced heart rate and skin conductance) and increased parasympathetic activation (increased heart rate variability) were unique to the self-compassion conditions. This pattern is associated with effective emotion regulation in times of adversity. As predicted, rumination triggered the opposite pattern across self-report and physiological responses. Furthermore, we found partial evidence that physiological arousal reduction and parasympathetic activation precede the experience of feeling safe and connected.

 Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy helps patients stop taking antidepressants

We aimed to determine the effectiveness of interventions to manage antidepressant discontinuation, and the outcomes for patients. […] We conducted a systematic review with narrative synthesis and meta-analysis of studies published to March 2017. […] Psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) are potential alternatives to antidepressants for preventing relapse/recurrence.15-17  […] The risk of relapse/recurrence was significantly reduced with the combination of CBT and tapering vs clinical management and tapering alone.  […] CONCLUSIONS: Cognitive behavioral therapy or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can help patients discontinue antidepressants without increasing the risk of relapse/recurrence, but are resource intensive. More scalable interventions incorporating psychological support are needed. 

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 8, 2019

Justin Bieber on Recovering From Xanax Abuse: ‘It Got Pretty Dark’

In a new interview alongside wife Hailey for the March issue of Vogue, Justin Bieber made a pretty shocking revelation about his health: He was misusing Xanax a few years ago. “I found myself doing things that I was so ashamed of, being super-promiscuous and stuff, and I think I used Xanax because I was so ashamed,” he told Vogue. “My mom always said to treat women with respect. For me that was always in my head while I was doing it, so I could never enjoy it.” Bieber also said that “drugs put a screen between me and what I was doing,” adding that “it got pretty dark.” Things got so bad that he said his security team came into his room a few times at night “to check my pulse and see if I was still breathing.” […] Trying to “detox” or go cold turkey can cause serious side effects, including seizures, Alan says. “You should absolutely step down on the medication when you’re coming off it,” she adds. Lander agrees: “This is not something you want to discontinue without medical help,” he says. In addition to seizures, abruptly stopping the medication can affect your heart, muscle response time, and cause behavioral changes like impulsivity and irritability, he says.

Antidepressant Overprescribing Appears Common in Elderly

Potential antidepressant overprescribing appears to be common among elderly patients and involves mostly newer antidepressants used for nonspecific psychiatric symptoms and sub-threshold diagnoses, according to a study published online Jan. 23 in Pharmacology Research & Perspectives. […] The researchers found that potential antidepressant overprescribing occurred in 24 percent of 3,199 incident antidepressant prescriptions during the study period. The suspected overprescribing involved primarily newer antidepressants that were prescribed for nonspecific psychiatric symptoms and sub-threshold diagnoses. Factors associated with potential antidepressant overprescribing included nursing home residence; a higher number of comorbid medical conditions and outpatient prescribers; more concomitant medications; greater use of urgent or acute care services in the year preceding the index antidepressant prescription; and being prescribed antidepressants via telephone, email, or patient portal.

Why students should not be forced to spend so much time sitting at desks

With the decrease in physical education and recess time over the past 30 years, several disturbing trends have emerged. First is the issue of obesity: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 3 children in the U.S. is overweight or obese — double the figures from the 1980s. From 2000 to 2009, incidences of adult-onset (Type 2) diabetes in children and teens increased 30 percent. Diagnoses of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder have also skyrocketed in recent years. In the 1990s, the use of psycho-stimulants such as Ritalin shot up 700 percent, and the United States now consumes nearly 90 percent of the world’s supply of such drugs. There are 5.7 million children age 6-17 who have been diagnosed with ADHD. If these stats were related to an infectious disease, we would declare it a full-blown epi­demic. Instead, we call it education as usual. […] What are the effects of adding more physi­cal activity to the academic classroom? Mark Benden, director of the Ergonomics Center at Texas A&M, has dozens of schools using pilot programs to make classrooms more active. His research shows many benefits: There has been a decrease in ADHD medication among the students in his classrooms; body mass index among overweight students in active class­rooms showed significant decreases. Executive function and working memory showed significant improvement, leading to improved academic achievement.

Walnut consumers tend to have lower prevalence of depression symptoms

A new epidemiological study suggests consuming walnuts may be associated with a lower prevalence and frequency of depression symptoms among American adults. After evaluating study participants for depression, researchers found that depression scores were 26 percent lower for walnut consumers and eight percent lower for consumers of other nuts, compared to those who did not consume nuts at all. […] “Walnuts have previously been investigated for their role in cardiovascular and cognitive health, and now we see an association with depression symptoms – providing another reason to include them in a healthy eating plan.” […] Depression scores were significantly lower among those who consumed nuts, particularly walnuts, compared to those who did not consume nuts, even after controlling for age, sex, race, income, BMI, smoking, alcohol consumption, and marital status. On average, walnut consumers ate about 24 grams of walnuts per day (just shy of a one-quarter cup serving). 

Many grocery stores now carry ‘walnut milk’. It makes a great coffee creamer! 

Open literature review: What is the relationship between social media use and rising teen depression/anxiety?

Two studies published in January 2019 suggest that there is little or no association between social media use and harmful mental health outcomes: Orben & Przybylski (2019) and Heffer, Good, et al. (2019).  Because these two papers are now being cited by journalists, we thought it would be useful to gather together in one place the published studies that shed light on this important question. There are studies pointing in various directions, and there’s surely a lot of work in the pipeline, so let’s try, as a research community, to take stock of what the conflicting studies say.

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 7, 2019

Why we studied the possible links between religion and happiness, health and civic engagement

People who regularly attend a house of worship are more likely to be happy and civically engaged than those who do not, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of 35 countries. Whether actively religious people also are healthier is less clear. Conrad Hackett, associate director for research and senior demographer, discusses the reasons for undertaking the study, why the subject is an important one and some of the challenges associated with trying to determine if and how religion impacts people’s well-being.

Negative Social Media Behaviors Associated With Major Depressive Disorder

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research, negative social media behaviors are associated with a higher likelihood of meeting criteria for major depressive disorder; affected individuals should gain an understanding of positive social media behaviors that could potentially reduce depressive symptoms. Previous studies suggest that increased social media use is associated with increased depressive symptoms in young adults with major depressive disorder and that they behave differently on social media than individuals without depression. The investigators of this study sought to identify specific social media behaviors — including social interaction, social comparisons, and social media addiction — that may relate to major depressive disorder in a millennial population. […] The study investigators suggested that individuals meeting the criteria of major depressive disorder were more likely to report negative social media behaviors, including increased social comparisons and social media addiction, whereas individuals without depression reported more positive social media behaviors, including social interaction with others. Patients with major depressive disorder should develop an awareness of specific negative social media behaviors that exacerbate their symptoms and learn to adopt more positive behaviors that can potentially reduce depressive symptoms.

Antidepressants Can Interfere With Pain Relief Of Common Opioids

Antidepressants may dampen the effects of some common opioids, resulting in less effective pain management according to research findings published Wednesday. The researchers suggest physicians should consider alternative pain management strategies for patients on antidepressants. Opioids come in two broad varieties: those that act directly and others that have to be chemically processed by the body before they can begin to relieve pain. Direct-acting opioids, like morphine or oxycodone, can get right to work. The other kind are called “prodrugs” and include hydrocodone, the opioid ingredient in Vicodin. Prodrugs need to be metabolized in the liver before they’re able to bind with pain receptors in the brain. The problem […] is that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, like Prozac or Zoloft, inhibit the activity of an enzyme in the liver, called CYP-2D6, that metabolizes prodrug opioids.

 

News & Information for February 6, 2019

It’s ideology vs. science in psychology’s war on boys and men

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently released its Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men. It manages to be simultaneously predictable, reprehensible, infuriating and disheartening — no mean feat for a single document. Make no mistake about it: this document constitutes an all-out assault on masculinity — or, to put it even more bluntly, on men. […] We cannot allow ideology and political correctness to prevail over science. […] it should be noted that there is almost nothing in the document on how to treat people. I don’t believe that a newly practising and interested young psychologist could derive a single technique from the guidelines worthy of using in a clinical setting. They are not guidelines for psychological practice. They are guidelines for how psychologists must think and what they must believe — or else. […] The document produced by the APA purporting to provide guidelines for the psychological treatment of boys and men is disingenuous, scientifically fraudulent and ethically reprehensible. I believe that the people who wrote it are ill-informed, ideologically possessed, morally weak, and malevolent in their unacknowledged and overweening resentment. I am embarrassed and ashamed to have them speak on behalf of my profession, and would like to apologize to the public for not having been sufficiently awake and outraged earlier to have done more to stop something like this from happening.

This 10-Minute Exercise Equals 44 Minutes Of Sleep, New Study Finds

new study, however, found a way to help you feel a bit more restored without hitting snooze. By doing just 10 minutes of a mindfulness practice each day, you could get the same positive brain effects as an extra 44 minutes of sleep per night. What exactly is mindfulness practice? While often different for everyone, it can range from traditional meditation to acts purposefully devoted to clearing your head, like taking walks or deep breathing techniques. Researchers conducted two separate studies on groups of really busy people—budding entrepreneurs—to measure their sleep, stress levels, and mindfulness practices, if any. They found that the individuals who reported the least amount of exhaustion were those who were lacking in sleep but still found time to engage in a mindfulness routine.

The Connection Between Sleep and Pain

Anyone who suffers from pain, whether due to an acute injury like a broken ankle or a chronic condition like back pain, knows that it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep when you are hurting. People in pain also report that when they don’t sleep well, they tend to hurt more. But why exactly? This connection between sleep and pain has been known but not understood. Now a new study reveals just how it is that sleep deprivation changes the circuitry in the brain in ways that amplify pain. And as part of the same research, an examination of the effects of natural day-to-day and night-to-night variations in sleep and pain suggests that sleep might be a useful part of therapies targeting pain. “There’s been this intuition that there’s this vicious, looping feedback between poor sleep and increased pain,” says the lead author […] “Here we’re providing direct evidence, giving this firm brain basis that sleep deprivation seems to directly affect the brain to increase pain.” […] In Krause’s study, sleep deprivation caused two kinds of changes in the brain. It increased reactivity in the somatosensory cortex, amplifying pain signals. And it decreased reactivity in the insula and striatum, the areas that evaluate and modulate pain naturally. “You put that together and you get this somewhat disturbing picture of the sleep-deprived brain when it’s in pain,” Krause says. “It’s letting in more pain signals, but the gatekeepers that normally evaluate this pain and can block it if needed are still asleep.”

Religious people are happier than those who don’t actively participate in a faith, study finds

People who actively practice a religion may be happier than the rest, according to a new study. A Pew Research study analyzed survey data from more than two dozen countries to compare the self-reported lifestyles of religious and non-religious people. Overall, the researchers found actively religious people tend to be happier, though they aren’t necessarily healthier in terms of exercise or obesity rates.

  • Pew Research study analyzed survey data from more than two dozen countries
  • Examined differences among actively religious, inactive, and unaffiliated people
  • The study found people who participate in religion often tend to be happier 

While the link between religion and health may not have been so clear, the findings on self-reported happiness are ‘striking,’ the researchers say. The study broke religious participation down to three categories are: Actively religious (regular participation), ‘inactively religious’ (claim a religious but attend services infrequently), and ‘religiously unaffiliated’ (people who do not identify with any religion). More than a third of actively religious adults in the US (36 percent) described themselves as ‘very happy’ in the surveys, compared to a quarter of both inactive and unaffiliated Americans. In another example, 45 percent of actively religious Australians said they were very happy, while just 32 percent of inactives reported this, and 33 percent of the unaffiliated. ‘And, there is no country in which the data show that actives [religiously active people] are significantly less happy than others (though in many countries, there is not much of a difference between the actives and everyone else),’ the researchers note.

Frequent Alert 82: Hear Terry Lynch MD on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour Today

Terry Lynch, MD the great Irish physician, therapist and author is my guest today, Wednesday February 6, 2019 at 4 PM, NY time on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour. Terry is a popular guest who radiates wisdom, understanding and empathy. He will help you feel affirmed as a human being as we discuss personal psychology, psychotherapy, and the disaster of biopsychiatric diagnosis and treatment. I always look forward to having Terry on the show. As a special event, we will share for the first time information about a new organization, UIMH, that we are planning together with several colleagues. Listen to the show live on www.prn.fm and call-in live to comment or ask questions at 888 874 48884 PM, NY Time. The show is archived on www.breggin.com.

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 5, 2019

Twelve Scholars Respond to the APA’s New Guidelines for Treating Men and Boys

Thirteen years in the making, the American Psychological Association (APA) released the newly drafted “Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Boys and Men.” […] the APA was forewarned by at least one psychologist that the guidelines would not be well received; that the document’s overtly partisan language and politically progressive narratives would not encourage men to receive services, but to keep them away. […] Unfortunately, instead of calming the storm by acknowledging the validity of at least some criticism, the APA doubled-down […] What should we make of not only the guidelines, but the APA’s inept handling of the criticism?  To better understand these dynamics, three of us, Quillette columnist and psychology professor Clay Routledge, along with criminology professor John Paul Wright, and Psychology Today contributor Pamela Paresky, sought commentary from a diverse range of voices, including therapists who focus on men’s issues, researchers whose work examines the complexity of men’s lives, and writers with diverse viewpoints. 

OSU study: Mindfulness can help weary entrepreneurs

When entrepreneurs are feeling exhausted but can’t afford the time for adequate sleep, they may be able to replenish their energy with mindfulness exercises such as meditation, new research from Oregon State University indicates. “You can’t replace sleep with mindfulness exercises, but they might help compensate and provide a degree of relief,” said Charles Murnieks, an assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship in OSU’s College of Business and the study’s lead author. “As little as 70 minutes a week, or 10 minutes a day, of mindfulness practice may have the same benefits as an extra 44 minutes of sleep a night.” The findings were published recently in the Journal of Business Venturing. Co-authors include Jonathan Arthurs, Nusrat Farah and Jason Stornelli of OSU; Melissa Cardon of the University of Tennessee; and J. Michael Haynie of Syracuse University.

Taking a vacation from Facebook boosts happiness, free time: study

In the latest study measuring the effects of social media on a person’s life, researchers at New York University and Stanford University found that deactivating Facebook for just four weeks could alter people’s behaviour and state of mind. The study found that temporarily quitting Facebook led people to spend more time offline, watching TV and socializing with family and friends; reduced their knowledge of current events and polarization of policy views; and provoked a small but significant improvement in people’s self-reported happiness and satisfaction with their lives. What’s more, the researchers found that the deactivation freed up an hour per day for the average person. And the people who took a break from Facebook continued to use the platform less often, even after the experiment ended. The study found the psychological improvements of abstaining from Facebook suggests people may be using the social network more than they should. And while people are less informed about the news when they are away from Facebook, it also cooled partisan thinking.

Obesity-linked cancers on the rise in young adults

Rates for six of 12 cancers associated with obesity are growing among younger adult Americans, a new study says. Colorectal, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancers, all linked to obesity, are on a rise for millennials, according to findings published Monday in The Lancet Public Health. The research focused on 18 cancers not associated with obesity. […] The new study found millennials have twice the risk of colorectal, gall bladder and pancreas and uterine corpus cancers than baby boomers, the study says. Conversely, rates of all but two of the 18 non-obesity associated cancer have decreased among the generation younger than millennial. According to one 2017 study, 57 percent of millennial adults will be obese by the time they turn age 35. “Given the large increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among young people and increasing risks of obesity-related cancers in contemporary birth cohorts, the future burden of these cancers could worsen as younger cohorts age, potentially halting or reversing the progress achieved in reducing cancer mortality over the past several decades,” Jemal said.

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 4, 2019

How My Toxic Stoicism Helped Me Cope with Brain Cancer

Under normal circumstances—e.g. in a time when the American Psychological Association (APA) has not released guidelines questioning whether norms associated with “traditional masculinity” (e.g. stoicism) are harmful to the mental health of men, and a shaving commercial is not being run that criticizes “toxic masculinity”—I would be reluctant to publicly share a story of personal adversity that, as a sometime aficionado of existentialist philosophy, I know I must ultimately face alone. But in the spirit of opening up, here goes. I have brain cancer. Not the kind that killed John McCain, Ted Kennedy, or Beau Biden. At least not yet. […] During this ordeal, not once have I cried. Not once have I felt depressed, anxious, or out of sorts. Not once have I felt a need to seek therapeutic help. On the morning of surgery, I worried more about losing cognitive abilities if the surgery went awry than I did about death. One of my sisters commented that I was so calm she thought the doctors must have given me a Valium. I was, in a word, stoic.

Alzheimer’s Q & A: Are meditation and yoga beneficial for Alzheimer’s caregivers?

Preliminary research indicates that people who care for family members with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the home had less perceived stress and mood disturbance when practicing meditation, or as the study called it, mindfulness-based stress reduction. Another trial indicated that such stress reduction was “more effective at improving overall mental health, reducing stress and decreasing depression” than those who only participated in a caregiver education and support intervention. Another study at UCLA found that when caregivers use yoga to engage in very brief, easy daily meditations, they experienced lower levels of depression, improved cognitive functioning and a reduction of stress. Yoga and meditation can reduce stress hormones and inflammatory factors, which ultimately helps the person cope more effectively with the stresses of caregiving. The practice of yoga and meditation also gives caregivers more of a sense of compassion for self and others as well as the ability to become more patient and gentle, which benefits all parties involved. 

Brain changes related to religion and spirituality could confer resilience to depression

New research published in Brain and Behavior provides evidence that religious and spiritual beliefs lower the risk of depression because they’re associated with changes in white matter microstructure, the communication pathways of the brain. “A previous study found that persons who said that religion or spirituality were highly important to them were protected against depression over 5 years, even though they were at high risk because of their family history. Because of these findings, we tried to understand what may be going on in the brain that would have this effect,” said study author Dongrong Xu of Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatry Institute. Another study, published in 2014, found that belief in the importance of religion or spirituality was associated with thicker cortices in several brain regions, including the left and right parietal and occipital regions, which could confer resilience to depression.

Study: Religious and moral beliefs predict what foods people buy

Researchers from Arizona State University, the University of Wyoming and Oklahoma State University have identified moral beliefs that affect food choices of religious and nonreligious people. The study is currently available online and will appear in the February edition of the Journal of Business Research. “Often, people make intuitive decisions about food that could require more careful thought,” said ASU’s Kathryn Johnson, assistant research professor of psychology. “People might make choices based on a cultural narrative or their religious and moral beliefs, without giving measured thought to whether there is a better option.” […] “We found religiosity influenced the selection of more diet-minded foods, which suggests the motives for consuming gluten-free or fat-free foods might not be the same as natural and organic foods,” Minton said. “Many people make decisions about food unknowingly, and it is important when trying to increase healthy choices that people are aware of what influences their decisions.”

Prior findings of ‘gender stereotype threat’ not replicated in new study

The effects of gender stereotype threat on mathematical test performance in the classroom have been extensively studied in several cultural contexts. Theory predicts that stereotype threat lowers girls’ performance on mathematics tests, while leaving boys’ math performance unaffected. We conducted a large-scale stereotype threat experiment in Dutch high schools (N = 2064) to study the generalizability of the effect. In this registered report, we set out to replicate the overall effect among female high school students and to study four core theoretical moderators, namely domain identification, gender identification, math anxiety, and test difficulty. Among the girls, we found neither an overall effect of stereotype threat on math performance, nor any moderated stereotype threat effects. Most variance in math performance was explained by gender, domain identification, and math identification. We discuss several theoretical and statistical explanations for these findings. Our results are limited to the studied population (i.e. Dutch high school students, age 13–14) and the studied domain (mathematics).

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

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

News & Information for February 2 – 3, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Jan 30, 2019

This was such a great show, I had to reassure my wonderful audience that every single caller was spontaneous and as surprising to me as it was to them. This was Open Mic Wednesday, which occurs every last Wednesday of the month. Topics covered were successful psychiatric drug withdrawals, building relationships when you feel emotionally unstable and lacking in confidence, handling anger, and brain nutrition. For me, it was an spontaneously delightful and informative hour. The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour is every Wednesday 4-5 pm NY Time. Calls can be taken during the live hour itself at 888 874 4888. The archives are on www.breggin.com.

Can Becoming an Extravert Make an Introvert Happier?

Do you believe that introverts would be happier if they could only become more extraverted? […] The authors also conclude that being told to act in a more extraverted manner for people who are true introverts is just not a sustainable approach. The only way to urge such individuals to become noisier and more gregarious, the team maintain, would be to try to nudge them in that direction in small doses with different instructions than to “become as extraverted as possible.” If highly introverted people have the opportunity to return to an introverted “restorative niche,” they can ratchet up their gregariousness in small and acceptable doses. […] To sum up, becoming more extraverted can benefit people’s happiness along a broad spectrum of the personality trait of extraversion, but only up to a point. True fulfillment may come from being able to follow your natural inclinations, with occasional prompts to be more outgoing serving as temporary mood boosts. If you’re an introvert, you can try talking yourself up to raise your energy level in a social situation as needed, but when you’re done, that “restorative niche” might be the best place to remain.

Listening to the music you love makes your brain release more dopamine

Understanding how the brain translates a structured sequence of sounds, such as music, into a pleasant and rewarding experience is a fascinating question which may be crucial to better understand the processing of abstract rewards in humans. In a new study, scientists found the answer suggesting that dopamine — a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in our cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning. It also plays a crucial role in the reward experience induced by music. Study author Laura Ferreri […] said, “In the scientific literature, there was a lack of direct evidence showing that dopamine function is causally related to music-evoked pleasure. Therefore in this study, through a pharmacological approach, we wanted to investigate whether dopamine, which plays a major role in regulating pleasure experiences and motivation to engage in certain behaviors, plays a direct role in the experience of pleasure induced by music.” […] “This study shows for the first time a causal role of dopamine in musical pleasure and motivation: enjoying a piece of music, deriving pleasure from it, wanting to listen to it again, being willing to spend money for it, strongly depend on the dopamine released in our synapses.”

Aerobic Exercise Improves Cognition, Even In Young Adults

Aerobic exercise training improves cognition, even for young and middle-aged adults, according to a new study led by researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. The study of 132 adults between the ages of 20 and 67 found that aerobic exercise training increases executive function—cognitive processes important for reasoning, planning, and problem-solving—in adults as young as 20, although the effect was stronger with increasing age. The study indicates that aerobic exercise training improves cognition in younger adults, suggesting that exercise can prevent or slow the appearance of at least some age-related cognitive changes. The flexibility of the exercise protocol, in which participants choose when and how to exercise, could make the intervention more attractive to the general population and increase its chances for adoption. […] After 24 weeks, there was significant improvement in executive function in the aerobic exercise group for participants of all ages, and the greater the participant’s age, the greater the improvement in executive function. […] Brain imaging at baseline and 24 weeks revealed that aerobic exercise training is associated with significantly increased cortical thickness in the left caudal middle frontal cortex. 

Researchers Challenge Interpretation of Antidepressant Meta-analysis

Researchers Lisa Cosgrove, from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Allen Shaughnessy, from Tufts University, recently released a commentary on the much-discussed antidepressant (ADM) meta-analysis from Cipriani and colleagues. The meta-analysis was the largest to date, analyzing over 116,000 participants and 21 antidepressants, and found that all ADMs studied were more efficacious than placebo. The researchers point out that the limitations of the study, including modest effect sizes, novelty effects, and often low certainty of the evidence, were not reflected in the coverage from major publications, many of which promoted the study as definitive proof of the effectiveness of ADM for depression.

Benzodiazepines: A new epidemic

Benzodiazepines, a type of medication commonly known as tranquilizers, are often prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal and seizures . They are also increasingly used to alleviate chronic pain such as back pain. Common benzodiazepines include Valium, Ativan and Xanax. 

A study released in JAMA Network Open revealed that outpatient benzodiazepine prescriptions have increased dramatically in recent years. The percentage of outpatient appointments leading to such prescriptions doubled from 2003 to 2015, with about half of this value coming from primary care physicians. The study also revealed that the number of continuing prescriptions, indicating long-term usage of such drugs, increased by 50 percent. […] Past studies have indicated a large rise in overdose mortality rates at the hands of benzodiazepines, from 0.6 in 100,000 people in 1999 to 4.4 in 2016. In addition, the mortality rate for women due to these medications has increased by 830 percent between 1996 and 2017. As women are more likely to be treated for mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, they are disproportionately prescribed these drugs and thus more susceptible to developing dependency. 

How Long Does Antidepressant Withdrawal Last?

Withdrawal Can Be a Years-Long Struggle. A new study analyzing withdrawal symptoms for patients coming off of antidepressants was published in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine. Authored by researchers at three British universities, this particular study focused on the characteristics of withdrawal associated with SSRIs and SNRIs, including time of onset, duration, and the nature of the symptoms. They studied self-reporting by approximately 173 people using a website that aims to help those dealing with antidepressant withdrawal. There were some differences in the withdrawal characteristics reported, based on the specific class of antidepressants. Neurological symptoms including “brain zaps”—a sensation resembling an electric shock inside the head—were more common, for instance, among SNRI users. On the other hand, psychosexual/genitourinary symptoms were reported more frequently by SSRI users.

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 1, 2019

Why Mindfulness Might Be An Effective Treatment For Chronic Pain

The mind-body connection is real. Just look at this new study out of the journal Evidence-Based Mental Health: Researchers found that practicing mindfulness may actually be an effective means of relieving physical pain and improving physical functioning. […] One of the most prominent psychological methods for treating people suffering from chronic pain is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps people learn adaptive behaviors and thought patterns that help them mentally deal with challenges and ideally lessen their experience of pain. In this study, the researchers wanted to compare how well mindfulness-based interventions helped accomplish this same pain reduction, in comparison to CBT or no such psychological interventions. Mindfulness generally refers to the ability to be aware of your present-moment experience, including bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts, without trying to judge or respond to them.

Pew Research: Religion increases happiness, civic engagement and health worldwide

People who are active in religious congregations tend to be happier and more civically engaged than either religiously unaffiliated adults or inactive members of religious groups, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of survey data from the United States and more than two dozen other countries. […] Many previous studies have found positive associations between religion and health in the United States. Researchers have shown, for example, that Americans who regularly attend religious services tend to live longer […] This analysis finds that in the U.S. and many other countries around the world, regular participation in a religious community clearly is linked with higher levels of happiness and civic engagement (specifically, voting in elections and joining community groups or other voluntary organizations). This may suggest that societies with declining levels of religious engagement, like the U.S., could be at risk for declines in personal and societal well-being. 

Persistent low body weight in young kids increases risk for anorexia nervosa later

A new study has found that a persistent low body mass index (BMI) in children, starting as young as age 2 for boys and 4 for girls, may be a risk factor for the development of anorexia nervosa in adolescence. In addition, the study, published in the February 2019 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that a persistent high BMI in childhood may be a risk factor for later development of bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and purging disorder. […] “Until now, we have had very little guidance on how to identify children who might be at increased risk for developing eating disorders later in adolescence,” said Zeynep Yilmaz, Ph.D.

★ Should we stop using ECT?  No role of electroconvulsive therapy vs depression

There is no role of electroconvulsive therapy in depression, claim experts in a study published in The BMJ today. […] Professor John Read at the University of East London, who has published several reviews of the ECT research literature, and Sue Cunliffe, a patient who has had ECT, say it has no long term benefits compared with placebo and can cause brain damage. They argue that the many evidence reviews claiming that ECT works are based on only five studies that found a temporary lift in mood during treatment only, in about a third of patients. What’s more, none of them identifies any placebo-controlled studies showing that ECT reduces depression beyond treatment or prevents suicide. Some studies also suggest that ECT causes long-lasting or permanent memory damage, they add, although ECT advocates claim this memory loss is caused by depression, not ECT itself. “Despite this lack of evidence psychiatry remains so adamant ECT works that no studies to establish efficacy have been conducted since 1985,” they write.

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 January 31, 2019

Study Finds Possible Root and Simple Treatment of Schizophrenia Symptoms

A first-of-its-kind study from Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) reports that a breakdown of functional connectivity between the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex may be the underlying anatomical cause for certain schizophrenia symptoms. This paper, “Cerebellar-Prefrontal Network Connectivity and Negative Symptoms in Schizophrenia,” was published January 30 in The American Journal of Psychiatry. […] “For some people with schizophrenia, the non-invasive brain stimulation had a powerful impact; for others, it wasn’t as powerful,” Brady said. “In all cases, re-connecting the network explained how much improvement the patient experienced. For the first time, we know what brain circuit to go after.” The authors explain the significance of these results, “A breakdown of connectivity in a specific dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-to-cerebellum network directly corresponded to negative symptom severity. Restoration of network connectivity with TMS [transcranial magnetic stimulation] corresponded to amelioration of negative symptoms, showing a statistically significant strong relationship of negative symptom change in response to functional connectivity change. We wanted to find out if we could restore that brain circuit through non-invasive brain stimulation, and if we could, would people get better?” These findings by Brady et al. (2019) demonstrate that a functional connectivity breakdown between the cerebellum and the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is associated with negative symptom severity observed in schizophrenia. Additionally, this research shows that improving functional connectivity between the so-called “little brain” and specific regions of the prefrontal cortex using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can ameliorate the severity of schizophrenia symptoms.

A ‘gold standard’ study finds deleting Facebook is great for your mental health

Overall, researchers concluded that not using Facebook reduced online activity, including other social media use, and increased offline activity such as watching television and socializing with friends and family more. Those who deactivated also observed a decrease in political polarization and news knowledge, and an increase in subjective well-being. The one-month cleanse also led to a reduction in time spent on Facebook for several weeks after the experiment. “Deactivation caused small but significant improvements in well-being, and in particular on self-reported happiness, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety,” the authors wrote. “Effects on subjective well-being as measured by responses to brief daily text messages are positive but not significant.”

Mental health disorders common following mild head injury

A new study reveals that approximately 1 in 5 individuals may experience mental health symptoms up to six months after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), suggesting the importance of follow-up care for these patients. Scientists also identified factors that may increase the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or major depressive disorder following mild mTBI or concussion through analysis of the Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI) study cohort. The study was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health. The findings were published in JAMA Psychiatry. “Mental health disorders after concussion have been studied primarily in military populations, and not much is known about these outcomes in civilians,” said Patrick Bellgowan, Ph.D., NINDS program director. “These results may help guide follow-up care and suggest that doctors may need to pay particular attention to the mental state of patients many months after injury.”

Stimulants do not improve learning or test scores 

When she and her colleagues set out to explore the effects of stimulants on college students’ performance, they wondered not if the drugs would enhance cognitive ability but rather how big the effect would be, and whether certain mental abilities would be affected more than others. What they found was something quite different. The research team had participants complete a battery of 13 cognitive tests after taking either mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall) or a placebo; all participants completed both conditions, and neither they nor the researchers knew which pill they got (in other words, it was a double blind study). Much to their surprise, the research team found no differences between the two conditions—with one exception, as Farah explained: “The one question on which placebo and Adderall differed was, ‘Do you think that your performance on these cognitive tests today was enhanced by the pill you took?’ And the days they were on the amphetamine, they rated the enhancement more strongly than the days they were on the placebo.” 

Study links high levels of screen time to slower child development

A study has linked high levels of screen time with delayed development in children, reigniting the row over the extent to which parents should limit how long their offspring spend with electronic devices. Researchers in Canada say children who spent more time with screens at two years of age did worse on tests of development at age three than children who had spent little time with devices. A similar result was found when children’s screen time at three years old was compared with their development at five years. “What is new in this study is that we are studying really young children, so aged 2-5, when brain development is really rapidly progressing and also child development is unfolding so rapidly,” Dr Sheri Madigan […] told the Guardian. “We are getting at these lasting effects.”

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for January 30, 2019

Alert 81: Open Mic on the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour TODAY!

January 30, 2019 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’ve returned from an amazing conference on how to have a healthy life and will share with you the four pillars of good living for us to talk about along with anything else that’s on your mind.   I have lots of good news on how the world is changing.  Remember, listen on www.prn.fm, call in to offer opinions or to ask questions at 888 874 4888, 4-5 PM NY Time, and listen to the archives on www.breggin.com.

Effectively treating childhood anxiety can be done for less, new study finds

Researchers at the FIU Center for Children and Families have found computer-based interventions can cut childhood anxiety treatment costs nearly in half, according to a new study. Findings show families can significantly reduce costs — without compromising effectiveness of treatment — by implementing a stepped approach. This means starting with low intensity treatments such as computer-administered treatment sessions, then stepping up to standard, higher intensity interventions including in-person cognitive behavioral therapy. […] “These findings can inform service providers, administrators and policy makers about the potential of stepped care service delivery models,” said Carlos E. Yeguez, psychology Ph.D […] “The amount of cost savings generated by the stepped approach was significant and suggests large system-wide savings if similar approaches are adopted on a large scale,” said FIU health economics expert Timothy F. Page.  

Air pollution and teenage mental health linked in study

Children who lived in areas with higher air pollution when younger are significantly more likely to have developed major depression by the age of 18, according to research. In the first analysis of how common air pollutants affect teenage mental health, researchers found young people were three to four times more likely to have depression at 18 if they had been exposed to dirtier air at age 12. Comparison with earlier work indicates that air pollution is a greater risk factor than physical abuse in raising the risk of teenage depression. The scientists said their findings are particularly significant because 75% of mental health problems begin in childhood or adolescence, when the brain is developing rapidly. The work also suggests a link between toxic air and antisocial behaviour, but more work is needed to confirm this. A larger study is expected later this year.

The Future of psychiatry is digital – from mind-training apps to smartphone therapy

Mental health care is an area in need of transformation. One in five Canadians will have mental health problems this year, yet many struggle to access care. According to one study, only half of people with depression get adequate care. Evidence-based psychotherapy is particularly difficult for people to access; a recent Canadian study found just 13 percent of people with depression had any psychotherapy. Yet cognitive behavioural therapy — a type of therapy that focuses on how a person’s thoughts can affect his or her behaviour and mood — is as effective as medications. […] We also need to be careful. There are hundreds of depression apps, but quantity doesn’t mean quality. In one study, when a basic quality control standard was applied (such as revealing the source of information), only 25 per cent of the apps studied passed the test. Digital mental health also needs to include digital privacy and confidentiality. Just as banking information shouldn’t be shared recklessly, medical information carried on a smartphone or a wearable device needs to be safe for the user.

Chinese ‘tweets’ hint that happiness drops as air pollution rises

Air pollution is recognized as a public health threat in China, linked to heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline and even risky behavior. Now a study analyzing air quality data and social media posts on China’s version of Twitter suggests that poor air quality may also harm people’s sense of well-being. “The higher the levels of air pollution in Chinese cities, the lower people’s happiness,” says Siqi Zheng, an environmental and urban economist at MIT and coauthor of the study published January 21 in Nature Human Behaviour. To reach that conclusion, Zheng and colleagues first developed a daily “happiness index” that looked at a population’s overall mood in each of 144 Chinese cities. The researchers gauged these moods using two word analysis programs on a total of 210 million social media posts appearing in March to November 2014 on the platform Sina Weibo.

This is the second study reported today linking air pollution with poorer mental health (Roberts et al, 2019 and Zheng et al, 2019). Last year we posted a study linking air pollution to schizophrenia risk (Liang et al, 2018).   

Study finds early risers are 35% less likely to experience depression than night owls

Morning people have few problems springing out of bed bright and early to face the day. Now it has emerged they are less likely to suffer from depression and are generally happier too. A study has found morning ‘larks’ are up to 35 percent less likely to suffer from depressive symptoms, based on their genes. These people, who are more likely to be older and female, also have better wellbeing. The silver lining for night owls is their ‘late riser’ genes may also make them more intelligent, perhaps because they spend more time reading when they are up late. 

  • Early risers – who are likely to be older and female – have better overall wellbeing
  • ‘Larks’ and ‘owls’ may process caffeine differently, with the latter being kept up 
  • ‘Night owl genes’ may make people more intelligent if they stay up late reading 

Scientists have discovered 327 new genetic regions which determine whether people are ‘larks’ who get up early in the morning or ‘owls’ with later bedtimes who naturally lie in for longer. They have found for the first time that larks and owls may process caffeine differently, so that a morning cup of coffee may stay in a night owl’s system for longer and keep them up at night. While shift workers who work at night were already known to be more prone to depression, this is the largest genetic study to find those with night owl genes are more at risk.

Ian’s thoughts: A clearly emerging signal in a lot of recent research we’ve been posting here is that there are close correlations between the quality and nature of sleep and mental health, including not only psychological states but endpoints like Alzheimers disease. Some of these correlations may not be causal, but they appear to indicate that a good night’s sleep is central to mental health.

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 January 29, 2019

Australia: Providers face crackdown on chemical restraint of elderly

Aged-care providers face a crackdown over the misuse of anti­psychotic drugs to dope nursing home residents after new standards were amended almost two years after the Department of Health was warned that the issue was a priority. The development of new standards, released late last November and which are already in force, contained no reference to the significant problem of “chemical restraint” through inappropriate drug prescriptions and neither did more detailed guidance notes for providers. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has announced antipsychotic drugs — developed to treat severe schizophrenia — and other psycho­tropics will be a key focus of the inquiry, particularly as they are associated with an increased risk of falls, stroke and death. […] “Although antipsychotic medicines may be appropriate for adults with severe mental health issues or long-term mental illness, there is concern that these medicines are being prescribed inappropriately in people aged 65 years and over for their sedative effects — that is, as a form of chemical restraint for people with psychological and behavioural symptoms of dementia or delirium,” the update says.

Ian’s thought: It’s fortunate that the term “chemical restraint” slipped through Pharmaceutically Correct (PC) language for its practice among the elderly. In contrast, chemical restraint of children in school is obscured with PC jargon like “ADHD.”

The Environmental Impact Of Pharmaceuticals In Our Water

When you pour yourself a glass of water from the tap, you think it’s clean. But is it? There could be traces of pharmaceuticals in your drinking water and you wouldn’t know it. Because modern water treatment centers can filter almost all toxins from our water, we think it’s safe. But since it doesn’t remove 100 percent, the concern grows for the presence of pharmaceuticals, which can affect your health and environment. […] races of pharmaceuticals and common drugs in our water aren’t new. For years researchers found traces of prescription and over-the-counter medications like antibiotics, painkillers and antidepressants in lakes and streams. […] When we consume animals and products exposed to this pollution, we too ingest the pharmaceuticals. Though the dosage may fall at different levels, the compounding of chemicals in our drinking water over time can disrupt how our body works and functions on a daily basis. Water treatment facilities can remove around 95 to 98 percent of the pharmaceuticals found in our water, but the untreated three to five percent remains a mystery in terms of our health. […] No matter how little you may be exposed, pharmaceutical pollution in our drinking water is a serious issue. Thankfully, there are measures we can take to save our health and our environment.

Best supplements for sleep: This plant root could drastically improve how you get to sleep

BEST supplements for sleep: Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to a person’s health. If you fail to get the recommended eight hours sleep your risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes increases. But a certain plant root-based supplement could be the sleep aid you need. […] Research suggests taking valerian root may reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, as well as improve sleep quality and quantity. Studies such as ‘Effect of valerian extract preparation (BIM) on the sleep-wake cycle in rats’ and ‘Effect of valerian on human sleep’ demonstrate this. In another study involving 27 young and middle-aged adults with sleep difficulties, 24 people reported improved sleep after taking 400mg of valerian root. And 12 of those 27 participants reported “perfect sleep”. Valerian may also help people who have insomnia after they stop taking sedative medications.

Study finds conveying happiness is easier through nonverbal cues

From joy to sadness, there are thousands of ways we express emotion, but a new study found that many emotions are understood through fewer facial expressions than previously thought. Recently published […] the study […] found that about half of those expressions turned out to be some variation of happiness. “We identified 17 different facial expressions of positive emotions,“ Martinez said. “The amount of facial expressions that convey happiness is astounding.” […] “Further research will need to study which of these effects are cross-culture and which [are] cultural-specific in the production and perception of emotion in the wild,” Srinivasan said in the paper’s conclusion. The number of universal expressions that exist cross-culturally has plagued researchers and philosophers since the days of ancient Greece according to the paper. Even scientist Charles Darwin hypothesized that there are only six universal emotions that humans are capable of displaying.

From problem-solving to motor skills, too much screen time delays early development

A newly published University of Calgary study has linked higher levels of screen time among two-year-old and three-year-old children with poor developmental outcomes at ages three and five. […] When followed across three time points, researchers found the children with higher levels of screen time were not meeting their developmental milestones as expected. “It’s creating some disparities in terms of children’s development, where the kids who are watching screens are having some compromised development, whereas we’re not seeing that with kids who have a low amount of screen time viewing,” Madigan said in an interview. […] She recommends that families establish a media plan, sitting down together and deciding how often, where and how devices are going to be used. She also suggests referencing the Canadian Pediatrics Society’s screen time guidelines for children, which recommend no screen time for children under two years old and that regular screen time for children from two to five years of age be limited to less than one hour a day. […] “Just like we limit the amount of junk food we give to kids, we also need to limit the amount of screen time,” said Sheri Madigan, assistant professor in the department of psychology at the U of C.

Happiness exercises benefit people recovering from substance misuse

Self-administered, test-based positive psychology exercises increased in-the-moment happiness in people recovering from problematic substance use, according to study findings. […] 

Briefly, the five happiness exercises were:

  • 3 Good Things (modified) — participants described three good things that happened to them that day;
  • Savoring — participants described two experiences they savored that day;
  • Experiencing Kindness — participants described one act of kindness they performed and one they saw that day;
  • Reliving Happy Moments — participants browsed their own photos, selected one capturing a happy moment and wrote about it;
  • Rose, Thorn, Bud — participants described the highlight of their day (rose), a challenge of the day (thorn) and something they looked forward to the next day (bud).

“The take-home message from our study is that yes indeed, these exercises work,” Hoeppner told Healio Psychiatry. “Our findings indicate that happiness is a malleable intervention target that could be addressed and improved during substance use care. How best to do so, remains an open question, and one we hope our findings stimulate research on.”

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

By Dr. Peter Breggin

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

News & Information for January 28, 2019

People with obstructive sleep apnea at greater risk of death by benzodiazepines

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and insomnia commonly coexist; hypnotics are broadly prescribed for insomnia therapy. However, the safety of hypnotics use in OSA patients is unclear. We conducted a retrospective case-control study to investigate the risk of adverse respiratory events in hypnotics-using OSA patients. […] Results: Multivariable adjusted analysis showed recent BZD [ benzodiazepine ] use is an independent risk for adverse respiratory events. Subgroup analysis showed both recent and long-term BZD use increased the risk of acute respiratory failure compared to never BZD use. Neither BZD nor non-BZD use increased the risk of pneumonia in OSA patients. Conclusion: BZD use might increase the risk of acute respiratory failure in OSA patients.

Methylphenidate-Induced Psychotic Symptoms in 65-Year-Old Female

Methylphenidate is generally considered a safe medication, however, some rare adverse effects, such as psychotic symptoms, may occur with its therapeutic or high doses. […] However, psychosis due to methylphenidate has been rarely reported in the elderly. This case presents psychotic manifestations due to methylphenidate in a 65-year-old female who was taking this medication for ADHD. She consumed 3 to 4 methylphenidate hydrochloride tablets per day for several months and thought that they were sleeping pills. Antipsychotic medication was initiated and methylphenidate was discontinued which resulted in improvement of her psychosis. Alternative diagnoses, including bipolar mood disorder with psychotic feature or mood disorder due to general medical condition, were ruled out because her psychotic symptoms appeared after taking several methylphenidate tablets and disappeared after discontinuation of this medication.

Meditation Linked With Fewer Colds & Other Respiratory Illnesses

Meditation has been touted as a miracle cure for everything from anxiety to insomnia, but can it make you physically healthier too? A small study from the University of Wisconsin found that meditation might ward off colds or the flu. Looking at a sample of around 400 adults, all of whom had gotten their flu shot, the study found that a group that practiced meditation got slightly fewer respiratory illnesses, and took fewer days off work, compared with a group that exercised and a control group. The study was published in the journal PLOS One in June 2018. […] “Until that research is done, we feel justified in advocating for both mindfulness and exercise because benefits appear likely, and there are minimal risks.” […] “Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care,” the NIH advised.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for January 27, 2019

Alert 80: Part II of VIII of Dr. Peter Breggin’s Inspired Interview about his Lifelong Reform

This is PART II of several segments of Dr. Peter R. Breggin’s interview with filmmakers Aaron and Melissa Dykes in the making of The Minds of Men, a documentary in which Dr. Breggin is featured. In Part II he describes a moment in time when he was about to give up. He was totally unable to get the media or the scientific and medical establishment to pay attention to resurgence of psychosurgery, including the neurosurgeon who was burning holes in the brains of little black children at the University of Mississippi in Jackson. His international campaign to stop the return of lobotomy and psychosurgery was not getting off the ground and Dr. Breggin’s lifelong reform work might never have begun. It all hung on one key person being out of town on vacation and another person being willing to risk changing the world. You will know him and understand his work much better after viewing this. 

Video: Women who love fried chicken have a 13% higher risk of death

 A new study done on post-menopausal women in the United States found that women who enjoyed fried chicken at least once a day had a 13 percent higher risk of death from any cause. That’s compared to women who did not eat any fried food. Women who ate fried fish or shellfish each day saw a 7 percent greater risk of dying. Official research still needs to be done, but the authors of the study concluded that limiting your consumption of fried foods could be better for your health. 

Towards Resilience and Possibilities and Away from Diseases and Symptoms

This week on MIA Radio, we interview Professor Jim van Os. Professor van Os is Chairman of the Division of Neuroscience at Utrecht University Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands […] We last spoke with Jim for the podcast in August 2017 and this time we focus on a recent paper written by Jim and co-authors that was published in the journal World Psychiatry in January 2019. The paper is entitled ‘The diagnosis evidence-based group-level symptom-reduction model as organizing principle for mental health care. Time for change?‘ Jim says that, arguably, ‘love is the most powerful evidence-based treatment in mental health’ and his paper envisions a future for mental health that moves away from symptoms and diagnoses and towards peer support and lived experience.

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 January 26, 2019

Scientists are gradually articulating ECT-induced “therapeutic” brain damage

A new study in people with major depression reports that electroshock therapy (also known as electroconvulsive therapy/ECT) induces changes in the fibres connecting the hippocampus to brain regions involved in mood and emotion. Only patients who responded to the treatment showed these changes, and those who had the greatest changes in hippocampal pathways also showed the largest improvements in mood. The study, conducted by researchers at University of California, USA, was published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. Believe it or not electroshock therapy is still a thing […] The researchers conducted brain scans of the hippocampus, the brain region most affected by depression, in people with the disorder before and after electroshock therapy, and assessed the changes in mood of participants. Because the changes in structural integrity of the hippocampal pathways were only observed in patients who responded to electroshock therapy, the findings suggest that it produces its therapeutic effects in the brain by improving this structural integrity. “These data add to the growing evidence that response to ECT is associated with changes in brain structure, in this case anatomical measures of white matter, in individuals undergoing this treatment for major depression,” adds Cameron Carter, MD.

Dr. Breggin’s Brain-Disabling Principles of Psychiatric Drugs, Lobotomy & ECT… 

I. All biopsychiatric treatments share a common mode of action – the disruption of normal brain function. None of them improve brain function.

II. All effective biopsychiatric interventions work by causing generalized brain dysfunction, affecting both emotional and cognitive functions. In a somewhat dose-dependent fashion all biopsychiatric interventions impair overall mental function

III: Biopsychiatric treatments have their “therapeutic” effect by impairing higher human functions, including emotional responsiveness, social sensitivity, self-awareness or self-insight, autonomy, and self-determination. More drastic effects include apathy, euphoria, and lobotomy-like indifference. When the disruption in normal function is interpreted as advantageous, the treatment is considered successful. A positive interpretation is often made by the physician or family but not by the patient. Sometimes patients also prefer the impaired state because it dulls their self-awareness and suffering or causes an artificial euphoria, or because of placebo effects. […]

UK: Electroconvulsive therapy being used on teens in NHS trusts

Dr Sue Cunliffe tells Sky News she was left with severe brain injury after receiving 21 shocks in ECT.  Thousands of patients with mental health issues, including teenagers, are being given electroconvulsive therapy despite links to brain damage. Labour has branded it “deeply concerning” after Sunday Mirror figures revealed that 5,165 patients aged 16 to 98 were given the therapy between 2016 and 2018. Although the exact number of children treated with it is not known, a report seen by the Sunday paper indicates one in six NHS trusts had used ECT on under-18s. […] “I think it’s not worthwhile in the vast majority of cases, if at all. We just don’t have enough research on what ECT does to the brain and the developing brain in younger people. “We know it can cause permanent memory loss, so it suggests it may do permanent damage. We know younger brains are more vulnerable to drugs, for example, so they are likely to be more damaged by ECT. “Giving it to younger people is a worry.”

UK: Darwin woman narrowly avoids ‘shock’ therapy without consent

Key Points

  • NT’s Mental Health Review Tribunal authorised electro-convulsive therapy against the patient’s wishes
  • The woman appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the decision
  • Her lawyer argued the patient had demonstrated capacity to understand her illness, and the basis of her refusal to undergo ECT

The woman was an involuntary mental health patient on a six-week admission at Royal Darwin Hospital, when her doctors sought to employ the controversial therapy. In Supreme Court documents obtained by the ABC, the patient’s lawyer, Julian Vido, argued that in order for the Mental Health Review Tribunal to authorise ECT, the tribunal had to be satisfied the woman was unable to give “informed consent”. Mr Vido argued his client had provided detailed information to the tribunal that “demonstrated her capacity to understand her mental illness, the general nature of the treatment proposed, her preferred treatment plan and the effects of giving consent to ECT”.  “[The patient] was able to clearly and consistently communicate her opposition to ECT and it’s basis … [namely] that her decision to refuse consent was based on the risk of memory loss,” Mr Vido argued. 

Patient previously had memory loss from ECT

The notice of appeal stated the woman had previously experienced memory loss after sessions of ECT, and that the tribunal had failed to consider whether other treatments were available. ECT involves strapping electrodes to a person’s head and then controlled electric shocks through the brain, with the aim of affecting brain activity and relieving severe depressive and psychotic symptoms. […] The case follows a landmark judgement by Victoria’s Supreme Court in November 2018, which determined that orders forcing two patients with schizophrenia to undergo ECT had breached their human rights.

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 January 25, 2019

5 Ways Yoga Can Benefit Your Mental Health

Yoga is widely known for reducing stress, improving flexibility and concentration, and promoting a sense of peace—to name just a few of its possible positive outcomes. On top of its physical benefits, however, researchers are beginning to understand more about yoga’s therapeutic benefits for mental health concerns. In fact, some research indicates that yoga can be an effective “prescription” for a myriad of the most common reasons why people seek psychotherapy. Just as certain psychiatric medications have shown some efficacy for reducing anxiety and depression, it is important to understand that other therapies like yoga have been shown to improve mental health. Yoga is no longer considered a solely “holistic” approach to improving mental health and well-being—in recent years, it’s gained a scientific following, and has extensive research behind it to support its benefits. For instance, yoga has been shown to help with the following:

Fried Food May Be Killing You, a New Study Says. Here Are the Worst Offenders

It’s no secret that fried food isn’t good for you. But a new study published in The BMJ details exactly how eating these foods may affect your health over time — and spells out which kinds may be the worst for you. “People know fried food may have adverse health outcomes, but there is very little scientific evidence to demonstrate what the long-term adverse outcomes are for eating fried foods,” says Dr. Wei Bao, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health and a co-author of the study. “In general, we found that fried food consumption is associated with overall mortality.” […] Fried chicken and fried fish were more strongly linked to early death than other fried foods, which the researchers grouped in a miscellaneous category including French fries, crackers, tortilla chips and snacks. The strength of the association may be because people simply consume more fried chicken or fish, Bao says, or because of differences in how those foods are prepared. For example, many restaurants reuse oil when they cook foods like fried chicken, which Bao says may increase the number of harmful byproducts transferred to the food. Meats also tend to be more deeply fried than many snack foods.

Study: Live in the moment, don’t selfie or snap it

If you’re attending a destination wedding, taking a tour or simply celebrating the birthday of someone dear, a study by a group of researchers involving Washington University in St. Louis came to both a new scientific conclusion and a kernel of everyday advice: Put the cellphone/camera down. “We get so focused on picture-taking, we miss the experience itself,” said Robyn LeBoeuf, professor of marketing at Olin Business School and co-author of a study involving more than five different surveys and 718 combined participants. […] “We’re looking at experiences that are overall highly enjoyable, ones you really get immersed in, things that are a 8-, 9- and 10- on a 10-point scale of enjoyment,” LeBoeuf said. “When you take pictures, you tend to enjoy them less. Taking pictures hurts.” The study advises, LeBoeuf said, to “carve out moments to do one or the other,” shoot photographs or enjoy the experiences. […] “You want people to share pictures of their good times, but if they turn out to not have good times because they’re taking too many pictures.”

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 January 24, 2019

Video: Interview of Professor Eric Anderson about the APA’s New Guidelines for Men & Boys

From his university profile: “Eric Anderson is Professor of Sport, Masculinities & Sexualities [ at the University of Winchester, UK ]. He holds four degrees, has published numerous books and over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles. His research is regularly featured on international television, in print and digital media. […] Professor Anderson’s research excellence is recognised by the British Academy of Social Sciences; he is a Visiting Professor at the University of California, Irvine; and he is also a Full Fellow of the International Academy of Sex Research.”

How Mindfulness Can Make Your Workouts More Effective

We tend to do anything to distract ourselves during a workout. Maybe you watch reality TV on the treadmill, hike with your headphones on, or rehash your to-do list as you cycle. Hey, no shame—you deserve a round of applause just for breaking a sweat! But according to experts, dropping the diversions and adopting a more mindful approach to fitness can pay off big-time—for your body and your brain. […] Yoga teachers often talk about centering yourself at the start of class. Try that before your other workouts, too, by pausing to take a few deep belly breaths. “As you inhale, imagine that your breath is carrying particles of concentration into your body. As you exhale, notice that all the distractions and stress are drifting away,” says sports psychologist JoAnn Dahlkoetter, PhD.

Childhood trauma affects brain and increases risk of substance use in adolescence, study finds

A new study led by FIU researchers at the Center for Children and Families found that traumatic childhood experiences like domestic violence, abuse and parental incarceration impact brain functioning and increase the risk of substance use during adolescence. […] They found that the negative childhood experiences may disrupt functioning of brain regions associated with impulse control. The children’s difficulties in regulating their impulses leads to increased deviant behaviors, such as stealing and aggression, in early adolescence, which in turn increases alcohol, cigarette, and drug use in late adolescence. “Understanding early precursors to later behavior problems and substance use can provide important information for developing more effective preventive interventions,” Fava said. “When we understand the experiences that shape a person’s behaviors, we can address the root cause instead of the symptoms to help bring about sustained health and well-being.”

Child’s age at parental divorce can affect antidepressant use in adulthood

A recent study from the Centre for Fertility and Health demonstrates that children’s age when their parents divorce has implications for their chance of suffering from depression as adults. “We could demonstrate that children whose parents divorced when they were 15-19 years-old are 12 per cent less likely to use antidepressants as adults compared to those whose parents divorced when they were four years old or less. Similarly, offspring who were adult (over 20 years) at the time of their parents’ divorce were 19 per cent less likely to use antidepressants,” explains Øystein Kravdal, the lead author of the study. […] “Importantly, one should not conclude from these findings that delaying a divorce until the children are older would be beneficial. A difference in depression between, for example, children who were 10 years-old at the time of their parents’ divorce and their siblings who were 15 years-old does not tell us what the outcome would be for the former if the parents had delayed the divorce for five years. A five-year delay may prolong the exposure to parental discord, and the children would then not be in the same situation as the 15-year old siblings with whom they are compared,” concludes Kravdal.

Use of prescription pills like Xanax in teens described as ‘epidemic’ in Halifax

Physicians with expertise in addictions are hearing reports of widespread increases of youth taking benzodiazepines or “benzos” in Halifax. “My colleagues who work particularly in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry who work in addictions in Halifax are talking about an epidemic of benzodiazepine use among youth,” said Dr. Sam Hickcox said, the physician lead for addictions medicine with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. […] “If you’ve been on them for a while, coming off of them abruptly, there’s actually a risk of death because of seizures,” Peter Jorna, the owner of Scotia Pharmacy, said.

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

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

News & Information for January 23, 2019

Childhood lead exposure linked to poor adult mental health

Lead exposure in childhood appears to have long-lasting negative effects on mental health and personality in adulthood, according to a study of people who grew up in the era of leaded gasoline. Previous studies have identified a link between lead and intelligence, but this study looked at changes in personality and mental health as a result of exposure to the heavy metal. The findings, which will appear Jan. 23 in JAMA Psychiatry, reveal that the higher a person’s blood lead levels at age 11, the more likely they are to show signs of mental illness and difficult personality traits by age 38. […] 

Higher blood lead levels at age 11 are linked to an increase in symptoms
of psychopathology and difficult personality traits by age 38.
Credit: Adapted from JAMA Psychiatry, 2019;76(4):1-9.

In a previous study, Reuben and colleagues showed that higher levels of lead in childhood were linked to lower IQ and lower social standing in adulthood. Both sets of findings suggest that lead’s “effects really can last for quite a long time, in this case three to four decades,” said coauthor Jonathan Schaefer, also a graduate student in clinical psychology at Duke. “Lead exposure decades ago may be harming the mental health of people today who are in their 40s and 50s.”

Lead in water: Study shows many schools have far too much

Many schools across the country have too much lead in their tap water, but most are not even testing for it, according to new research published Wednesday. There’s no coherent policy for lead testing, and half of all U.S. students go to schools in states that do not even bother to have programs for testing drinking water for lead, the study found. And even in those that do test for lead, more than 40 percent of schools turned up at least one sample with higher-than-recommended levels of lead in the water. That could translate to millions of kids getting lead in the water they drink at school, the report from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found. […] And many states allowed lead levels in schools above the FDA’s limit for bottled water. “If all state programs used the action level that the FDA allows for bottled drinking water (i.e., 5 parts per billion) for lead content, there could be more than a doubling in the proportion of schools that would need to take steps in order to reduce the lead in their drinking water,” the report reads.

New Research Shows Teen Binge Drinking Could Lead to Opioid Abuse  

Research bridging the fields of immunology, pharmacology and neuroscience […] shows that binge drinking among teens could lead to an increased “sensitivity” to opioids. This increased sensitivity can lead to a greater sense of euphoria or “high” among the teens with binge drinking experience and thus lead to a greater likelihood of continued usage and subsequent opioid use disorder or addiction. […] “We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic in this country and we need to figure out why,” said Director Chang. “Our research shows that binge drinking among adolescents essentially shapes the brain and the body to be more receptive to opioids— to increase the effects of the drug and thus make it more likely that the teen user of opioids will continue to use. More generally, the research also tells us that substance abuse of any form is a slippery and dangerous slope.” […] “Overall, the study’s results suggest that by making teens more physically receptive to the effects of opioids, and by enhancing those effects, binge drinking may contribute to the onset and progression of opioid use disorders […] In the midst of an opioid crisis, this is important information to have.”  

Stressed? Having a partner present — even in your mind — may keep blood pressure down

When faced with a stressful situation, 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, according to a new study by University of Arizona psychologists. […] Those who had their partner physically present in the room or who thought about their partner had a lower blood pressure response to the stress of the cold water than the participants in the control group […] “This suggests that one way being in a romantic relationship might support people’s health is through allowing people to better cope with stress and lower levels of cardiovascular reactivity to stress across the day,” Bourassa said. “And it appears that thinking of your partner as a source of support can be just as powerful as actually having them present.”

The American Psychological Association Has Made Choosing a Therapist Easy

How does one go about choosing a psychotherapist? The APA just made the task much simpler: Just ask any therapist you are considering for yourself or someone else, “Do you agree with the American Psychological Association that ‘traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful’?” If the therapist agrees, thank him or her for the time and leave. If the therapist starts giving a prolonged response, leave. Any therapist who cannot unequivocally condemn the APA statement is unworthy of your time and your money, let alone your psyche. Many will try to weasel out of directly agreeing (or disagreeing) with the statement. They will tell you that sometimes masculinity is a problem. But they are just being careful not to lose you as a potential client. Such a statement is meaningless: There is nothing that cannot be harmful at times. That includes femininity as much as masculinity, and it includes such normally good things as water (a lot of people drown, after all). Without “traditional masculinity,” civilization is lost. Ask anyone you know who agrees with using the term “the greatest generation” to describe the generation that fought World War II whether the men of that generation would have fought, much less won, without “traditional masculinity.”

Is Traditional Masculinity Harmful?

Gillette’s We Believe: The Best Men Can Be is essentially a video version of the recent American Psychological Association statement that “traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful.” […] “that’s what inspired me to become a soldier. Here I am, sir, and I’d like to thank you and the Canadian forces for liberating us.” More dangerous traditional masculinity at work, as with the men who stormed the beaches and parachuted into Nazi-occupied France to supply the Maquis, the real resistance fighters. […] Those saved from death by brave men might find strange the notion that traditional masculinity is harmful, much less some form of mental illness. […] For all but the willfully blind, the APA charge is pseudo-academic nonsense. It is as though the American Medical Association declaimed against the male right arm, capable of inflicting violence. On the other hand, this sub-junkthought masquerades as “social science,” so it would be foolish to ignore it. Recall that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a one-party Communist dictatorship, considered dissidents to be mentally ill and tossed them into insane asylums. In similar style, when some American professional association targets you as toxic for something you can’t control – age, gender and skin color – it pays to watch your back.

Ian’s thoughts: even if getting rid of traditional masculinity is a good idea, who but a fool would advocate for it if there was even one other nation on earth that could conceivably be a military aggressor and was not itself also seeking to eradicate stoicism, competitiveness and other alleged ills of men among its male population. There’s an ideal utopia, and there’s reality. We can dream about a utopia where all men are angels, but we have to expect and plan to live in the real world, and in so doing, we need men, with all their traditional risks and benefits.

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 January 22, 2019

UK: Mentally ill people more at risk of losing benefits, study shows

People with mental health problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and low mood are at far greater risk of having their benefits stopped than those with physical ailments, research shows. Benefits claimants who have a psychiatric condition are 2.4 times more likely than those with diabetes, back pain or epilepsy to lose their entitlement to disability living allowance. The findings are based on government data about 327,000 people with either type of health condition who switched from receiving DLA to personal independence payments (PIP) between April 2013 and October 2016. The findings raise fresh questions over whether people who are struggling with mental ill health are at a disadvantage when they have to negotiate the benefits system. […] “The push for parity [of esteem] between physical and mental health in the health service must be extended to the welfare system to give people the support they need and the best chance of recovery.” 

Study Shows Opioid Deaths May be Linked to Drug Marketing

The study found that pharmaceutical companies spent almost $40 million in prescription opioid marketing to over 67,000 physicians across 2208 counties.2  Additionally, the Northeast areas of the US had the highest amount of opioid marketing, while the Midwest had the lowest.2 The study revealed that for each 3 additional payments made to physicians per 100,000 people in a county, opioid overdose deaths were up 18%.2 The most common type of marketing is generally meals provided for physicians, and there is a growing amount of evidence demonstrating that this leads to increased prescribing.

Taking a Walk Will Boost Your Creativity and Problem-Solving

Tchaikovsky took a walk every morning, before sitting down to work on his music. Einstein walked on the beach when he needed to work out complex problems. Steve Jobs preferred to conduct meetings while walking. These and many more of the greatest minds in history made walking a key part of the fabric of their lives and work. In 2014, a study out of Stanford produced some truly wonderful results that may help to explain why. Their findings support the role of walking as a path to brilliant ideas and prodigious creativity. What they found: 1) Walking is far more powerful than sitting for generating creative ideas […] 2) You don’t need to take a long walk to boost creativity […] 3) The creative impact of walking goes beyond the walk itself […] 4) Walking indoors worked just as well as outdoors […] 5) You don’t have to work up a sweat to get these benefits […] In the words of the study authors, “walking opens up the free flow of ideas”.

Video: Eels in Thames ‘left hyperactive due to high levels of cocaine in water’

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 January 21, 2019

Scientific American: Proper Breathing Brings Better Mental Health 

  • A growing number of studies show that breathing techniques are effective against anxiety and insomnia.
  • These techniques influence both physiological factors (by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system) and psychological factors (by diverting attention from thoughts). 
  • Because these techniques are safe and easy to use, scientific validation might result in their being more frequently recommended and practiced.

As newborns, we enter the world by inhaling. In leaving, we exhale. Breathing is so central to life that it is no wonder humankind long ago noted its value not only to survival but to the functioning of the body and mind and began controlling it to improve well-being. […] Recommendations for how to modulate breathing and influence health and mind appeared centuries ago as well. Pranayama (“breath retention”) yoga was the first doctrine to build a theory around respiratory control, holding that controlled breathing was a way to increase longevity. […] every relaxation, calming or meditation technique relies on breathing, which may be the lowest common denominator in all the approaches to calming the body and mind. Research into basic physiology and into the effects of applying breath-control methods lends credence to the value of monitoring and regulating our inhalations and exhalations. […] respiratory techniques do not work only for acute stresses or sleep problems; they can also relieve chronic anxiety. They are particularly effective in people with psychiatric disorders such as phobias, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. […] Therapists often suggest the “365 method”: at least three times a day, breathe at a rhythm of six cycles per minute (five seconds inhaling, five seconds exhaling) for five minutes. And do it every day, 365 days a year. Some studies even suggest that, in addition to providing immediate relief, regular breathing exercises can make people less vulnerable to stress, by permanently modifying brain circuits. 

Digital Ritalin: new brain training game works as well as ‘chemical cosh’

A new brain training game works like ‘digital ritalin’ to improve focus, researchers have shown and are hopeful it could replace controversial ‘chemical cosh’ drugs. The University of Cambridge has today launched a free app which they claim provides a ‘welcome antidote to daily distractions’ helping to calm and focus the mind so that people can perform tasks with greater focus. The game called Decoder, invites users to tap the screen when a number combination appears helping to promote ‘flow,’ the state of complete concentration which allows people to operate at the top of their ability. Trials on 75 people showed that performance after playing the came was comparable to taking Ritalin, a common…

Brain training app improves users’ concentration, study shows

A new ‘brain training’ game designed by researchers at the University of Cambridge improves users’ concentration, according to new research published today. The scientists behind the venture say this could provide a welcome antidote to the daily distractions that we face in a busy world. […] Results from the study showed a significant difference in attention as measured by the RVP. Those who played Decoder were better than those who played Bingo and those who played no game. The difference in performance was significant and meaningful as it was comparable to those effects seen using stimulants, such as methylphenidate, or nicotine. The former, also known as Ritalin, is a common treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). […] The game has now been licensed through Cambridge Enterprise, the technology transfer arm of the University of Cambridge, to app developer Peak, who specialise in evidence-based ‘brain training’ apps. 

Psychologists want to change how they treat men. That’s a problem.

At issue is the APA’s first-ever “Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Boys and Men” — originally released this summer, but only recently getting attention. The document, developed over 13 years and grounded, as the APA describes in a press release, in “more than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful,” lists harmful aspects of everyday masculinity, including “emotional stoicism, homophobia, not showing vulnerability, self-reliance, and competitiveness.” […] Many critics argue that the guidelines, as Fox News’s Laura Ingraham put it, conflate masculinity with “being a pig or a creep or a Harvey Weinstein kind of person.” That might be a bit over the top. But there is another, deeper problem with the guidelines: They risk subverting the therapeutic enterprise altogether because they emphasize group identity over the individuality of the patient. Psychotherapy is the ultimate personalized medicine. The meanings patients assign to events are a thoroughly unique product of their histories, anxieties, desires, frustrations, losses and traumatic experiences. “Gender-sensitive” psychological practice, as the APA calls it, is questionable because it encourages clinicians to assume, before a patient even walks in the door, that gender is a cause or a major determinant of the patient’s troubles. […] Take the male trait of “emotional stoicism.” The guidelines appear to regard this disposition as a problem in need of fixing. It is not clear why this is necessarily so. And surely emotional openness is not a goal that can be foisted on a resistant patient.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for January 19 – 20, 2019

Alert 79: Dr. Peter Breggin’s Inspired Interview about his Lifelong Reform Work (Part I)

This is the beginning segment of Dr. Peter R. Breggin’s interview with film makers Aaron and Melissa Dykes in the making of The Minds of Men, a documentary in which Dr. Breggin is featured. This new YouTube series, which includes the whole unedited interview, presents some of Peter Breggin’s most inspired and engaging discussions about his life’s work and shows what motivated him to become such an avid lifetime reformer. 

Flashback (1973): Dr Breggin threatened by psychosurgery thug

Jack Anderson: “GET BREGGIN — the nation’s most outspoken foe of psychosurgery, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, has been warned that several ex-convicts are out to ‘get’ him.”   

The prescription drug epidemic no one’s talking about

Exploding prescription rates, widespread addiction and soaring overdose deaths are staples of media coverage of opioids. Yet these same phrases apply equally well to another class of prescription drugs whose impact has received little attention: benzodiazepines […] Valium, Librium, Rohypnol, and Xanax […] Physicians have long-prescribed them mainly for anxiety and insomnia […] Overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines increased more than 8-fold from 2000 (1,298 deaths) to 2016 (10,684 deaths). A massive increase in prescribing facilitated this horrifying rise in mortality. Between 1996 and 2013, the quantity of benzodiazepines doctors provided to Americans more than tripled. […] The risks of benzodiazepines have attracted far less attention than those of opioids. But a few government agencies have awakened to the problem. At the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration recently ordered that labels on benzodiazepines and opioids mention the risk of combined use, and the Veterans Health Administration is educating its prescribers about safer alternatives to benzodiazepines. At the state level, benzodiazepines are increasingly being included in prescription drug monitoring programs.

Could this radical new approach to Alzheimer’s lead to a breakthrough?

The FDA has approved just five treatments for Alzheimer’s, and they provide only limited, temporary relief. The agency hasn’t signed off on any new ones since 2003, despite more than 500 clinical trials of Alzheimer’s drugs. […] For decades, though, Big Pharma hasn’t been very interested in less conventional theories. Seeking an enormous payout of perhaps $10 billion a year in sales, they have thrown thousands of scientists and billions of dollars at this one idea [ the amyloid hypothesis ], again and again, with no luck. “You know that definition of insanity?” Cox asked, the first time we met. “Doing the same thing over and over again despite getting the same results? Each trial is a billion bucks; each targets the same thing. None have worked. It seems to me that if you’d put in a billion bucks and failed, you’d say, ‘Let’s try something else.’ ” […] “We think that chronic exposure to BMAA is a risk factor for ALS and Alzheimer’s. It’s not deterministic. It’s like tobacco and lung cancer: If you smoke, you might not get it, and if you don’t smoke, you still might get it. With L-serine, it’s possible that it could significantly reduce our risk of these diseases. It’s cheap and it’s safe, so it could prove to be the molecule of choice for disease prevention. If the research pans out, we could possibly provide L-serine to all people who are deemed at risk of developing the disease in the future.”

Related study (2016): Toxins from blue-green algae cause Alzheimer’s-like brain changes

A group of villagers on the Pacific island of Guam has offered some key insight into the role that an environmental toxin may play in brain changes that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. And scientists studying that neurotoxin appear to have found a possible antidote. […] In hunting for the cause of the Guamanian affliction, scientists’ suspicions have fallen on an environmental toxin–the amino acid beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine (or L-BMAA).  […] Among the Chamorro who were studied, L-BMAA had made its way in high doses into their diets […]  even when outsiders came to Guam and ate what locals ate, they were likely to become ill […] scientists decided to test the effects of ingested L-BMAA in vervets, a monkey native to Africa […] After the 140 days, tangles and amyloid deposits were found in the brain tissues of all of the vervets who consumed L-BMAA. […] “The tangles and amyloid deposits produced were nearly identical to those found in the brain tissue of the Pacific Islanders who died from the Alzheimer’s-like disease,” […] But the vervets that got the [ amino acid ] L-serine with the L-BMAA fared far better: They had neurofibrillary tangles that were significantly less dense than those seen in monkeys that got L-BMAA alone.

Mindfulness Protects Against Depression, Anxiety, Fatigue, and Sleep Issues in MS Patients, Study Finds

Mindfulness protects against depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep problems in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), improving their quality of life and overall well-being, a study finds. The study […] was published in the International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology. […] longitudinal long-term data documenting the impact of mindfulness on MS patients’ quality of life, in particular, are rare. Therefore, a team of researchers at Harvard University and collaborators set out to evaluate the long-term impact of two different types of mindfulness […] “The results confirm and extend the importance that mindfulness can have on the general quality of life of people with MS including meditation-based approaches and, for the first time, the same results using the Langerian mindfulness framework [which does not include meditation],” the team concluded.

How Virtual Reality Can Help Treat Chronic Pain

Spurred by research that suggests VR [ virtual reality ] can help alleviate the anxiety and pain of patients suffering from acute and chronic pain, and the fact that the technology is becoming more affordable, a growing number of health care providers are using virtual reality to ease physical suffering. More than 250 hospitals nationwide use VR […] which puts viewers in an immersive, multi-sensory three-dimensional environment – can effectively distract patients from pain, studies suggest. For instance, research published in 2017 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research concluded that the use of VR in hospitalized patients “significantly reduces pain” compared to a two-dimensional video. A separate study, published in 2016 in the journal PLOS One, found that a five-minute virtual reality experience decreased the sensation of chronic pain by an average of 33 percent from pre-session to post-session. The study involved 30 participants who suffered from an array of chronic pain disorders, including cervical spine pain, lumbar spine pain, hip pain and abdominal pain. If you’re suffering from acute or chronic pain, here are the potential benefits of using virtual reality:

Antidepressant Withdrawal: An Unknown Disorder?

In 1977, George Libman Engel (December 10, 1913 – November 26, 1999), an American internist and psychiatrist who spent most of his career at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY and gave a seminal contribution to medicine via the formulation of the biopsychosocial model,1 criticized the dominant medical culture of those days. He said that biomedical dogma requires that all disease, including “mental” disease, be conceptualized in terms of derangement of underlying physical mechanisms. He added that this allows only two alternatives in medical doctors’ behavior and approach: the reductionist, which says that all phenomena of disease must be conceptualized in terms of physicochemical principles; and the exclusionist, which says that whatever is not capable of being so explained must be excluded from the category of diseases. The reductionists concede that some disturbances belong to the spectrum of disease, categorizing these as mental diseases. The exclusionists regard mental illness as a myth.

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

By Dr. Peter Breggin

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

News & Information for January 18, 2019

New neurological study finds that falling in love can strengthen the body physically

A new study out of UCLA found that when a woman falls in love, a new protein called interferon is released in her blood, according to iRadio. […] “New romantic love is accompanied not only by psychological changes, but physiological changes as well,” UCLA researchers said. Scientists took samples of the blood of 47 young women who claimed they were newly in love. Surprisingly, they found a common attribute in each one of these enamored women’s blood. Their bodies had recently begun producing interferon, a protein that is often released during sickness to help combat a virus, according to the New York Post. This chemical is part of a protein class known as cytokines, part of the defense mechanism of the body’s immune system. When a pathogen enters the body, these proteins work in unison to help fight off the virus. Because of their powerful healing properties, scientists have even looked into their effect on combating malignant tumors.

What science is saying about teen sleep

Before we dive into the latest science on sleep in teens, it’s important to remember that teen sleep works differently than adult sleep. It’s also different from the sleep patterns that teenagers had as younger children. Teenage sleep is a unique time in the sleep lifecycle. When boys and girls hit puberty, the timing of their biological clocks begins a dramatic shift toward a preference for evenings, a shift that lasts throughout adolescence. Teens’ bio clocks are delayed by much as two hours or more. […] Teen sleep amounts have been on the decline for decades. A first-of-its-kind, nationally representative study of teen sleep in the US found that teenagers’ sleep dropped significantly over a 21-year period from 1991-2012, with only about half of teenagers reporting sleeping 7 hours a night or more. […] The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at sleep amounts and sleep quality in more than 800 teenagers and analyzed how sleep habits affected important markers of cardiovascular and metabolic health. 

Overdose deaths tied to antianxiety drugs like Xanax continue to rise

As public health officials tackle opioid addiction and overdoses, another class of prescription drugs has been contributing to a growing number of deaths across the United States. Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, are commonly prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. The drugs are also highly addictive and can be fatal, especially when combined with alcohol or opioids. In the latest sign of the drug’s impact, the number of overdose deaths involving “benzos” rose from 0.54 per 100,000 in 1999 to 5.02 per 100,000 in 2017 among women aged 30 to 64, researchers report January 11 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. That’s a spike of 830 percent, surpassed only by increases seen in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids or heroin. 

The number of overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines has gone up from 1999 to 2016,
now reaching close to 11,000. Deaths among men and women are both on the rise.

Overall, there were 10,684 overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines in the United States in 2016, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 1999, the total was 1,135.

Mindfulness may ease menopausal symptoms

Mindfulness may be associated with fewer menopausal symptoms for women, according to a Mayo Clinic study recently published in Climacteric: The Journal of the International Menopause Society. Researchers discovered that being mindful may be especially helpful for menopausal women struggling with irritability, anxiety and depression. “In this study, we found that midlife women with higher mindfulness scores experienced fewer menopausal symptoms,” says […] the study’s lead author. “These findings suggest that mindfulness may be a promising tool to help women reduce menopausal symptoms and overall stress.” […] “Essentially, the first step in being mindful is to become aware that our minds are on autopilot most of the time,” Dr. Sood says. “The goal during mindful moments is not to empty the mind, but to become an observer of the mind’s activity while being kind to oneself. The second step is to create a pause. Take a deep breath, and observe one’s own space, thoughts and emotions nonjudgmentally. The resulting calm helps lower stress.”

Meaningful life tied to healthy aging

Researchers report that physical and social well-being in old age are linked to self-assessments of life worth. […] the authors found that compared with low ratings, high ratings for engagement in worthwhile activities were linked to a greater extent with strong personal relationships, healthy lifestyles, sound mental and physical health, affluence, and increased time spent exercising and socializing. High ratings were also associated with biomarkers such as high gait speed, strong hand grip, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high vitamin D concentrations, decreased obesity, low plasma C-reactive protein, and low white blood cell counts. High ratings in 2012 predicted healthy lifestyles, increased relationships and socializing, and reduced loneliness, depression, and health issues in 2016. The findings suggest that a spectrum of behavioral, economic, health, and social variables may influence whether aging individuals believe they are leading meaningful lives, and that such beliefs affect future well-being, according to the authors.

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 January 17, 2019

A look at the brain boosting effects of exercise

A study by the University of Illinois, which included 108 adults between the ages of 55 and 79, showed improved accuracy on memory tests, greater mental flexibility and more efficient task switching after eight weeks of yoga. […] Here are some of the positive brain-boosting effects of exercise: […] Eases depression. Numerous studies show regular exercise improves mild to moderate depression, and plays a supportive role in relieving severe depression. In fact, one 16-week study showed exercise eased depression as much as the drug Zoloft. “Regular, intense aerobic exercise is a must for most people suffering from depression,” says Dr. Carolyn Dean, a medical advisory board member of the nonprofit Nutritional Magnesium Association. And, unlike antidepressants, exercise will not cause harmful side effects. One study found that 30-minute aerobic workouts done three to five times a week cut depressive symptoms by 50 percent in young adults. […] In general, strive for 2-1/2 hours a week of moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking every week, and resistance training exercise two to three days of the week, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Keep in mind that doing 10-minute sessions a few times a day is as effective as doing one, 30-minute workout.

How Yoga and Controlled Breathing May Counter Major Depression

In this ground-breaking study, the first of its kind to look at changes in GABA levels as a function of yoga and related practices, researchers compared the effects of a 12 week course of Iyengar yoga on clinical outcomes and brain GABA levels in a group of healthy volunteers and a group of people with depression and anxiety. The control group included 17 people and the depression and anxiety group 15 people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder […] Their initial findings, while requiring further investigation, are remarkable. Following 12 weeks of yoga and coherent breathing practice, study participants in the depression and anxiety group showed normalization of thalamic GABA levels on MRS pre- and post-session. As we can see in the MRS curve from a study subject, the healthy control and patient curves come together. At the same time, BDI and STAI-State scores showed statistically and clinically significant positive changes. In those with depression and anxiety, after practice the Tranquility, Revitalization, Positive Engagement and Physical Exhaustion sub-scales all showed improvement.

14 Little Things You Can Do to Be Happier Right Now

Are you happy? The question seems simple enough. But when you really take the time to assess where you stack up on the bliss scale, you may find you’re out of balance. The truth of the matter is that the concept means many things to different people. What puts a smile on your face may very well be a disappointment to someone else. According to the 2016 Harris Poll Survey of American Happiness, only a third of Americans reported that they were, indeed, happy. Though we all want to be more positive, very few of us know how to go about bringing more pleasure into our lives. Fortunately, if you follow these tips to be happy, you may see that finding joy is easier than you think.

Rich people’s most outstanding trait in face of challenge: Optimism

Optimists are far more likely than pessimists to make smart money moves, new research reveals. Indeed, a new survey of more than 2,000 people released this week from Frost Bank found that while 90% of optimists have saved for a major purchase, just 70% of pessimists have. Furthermore 75% of optimists have gotten creative with ways to save money versus just 60% of pessimists; and 61% of optimists have started an emergency fund, compared to just 43% of pessimists. And Frost found that even controlling for wealth and income, optimism is associated with an increase in financial well-being. And that’s not the only way that optimism can improve your bottom line. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2016, optimists tend to earn more money than pessimists. They’re also more likely to get promoted. And research […] found that ultra-high-net-worth individuals overwhelmingly describe themselves as optimists, with just two of the 40 self-made multi-millionaires and billionaires he interviewed describing themselves as pessimists; no other personality trait he measured showed such a strong leaning. So why does optimism have such a positive impact on your bottom line? “Optimists have the expectation that good things happen and the belief that their behavior matters,” explains positive psychology researcher Michelle Gielan.“Optimists believe they can make a difference in challenging circumstances so they are much more motivated to act. For pessimists, circumstances overwhelm.” 

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for January 16, 2019

Survey: Americans Spend Nearly Half Their Waking Hours Looking At Screens

the survey found that 42% of the time Americans are awake, their eyes are fixated on a television, smartphone, computer, tablet, or other device. Supposing the average American slept eight hours a night (not even close to the case for most adults), the researchers calculated that people spend about six hours and 43 minutes a day staring at a screen. Over a typical lifespan, that’s 7,956 days. And the problem is only getting worse. Of those surveyed, 79% said their screen time has increased over the past five years, with four in ten admitting it’s grown “a lot.” Three in four participants believe they simply spend too much time in front of screens. In fact, 53% take breaks from the computer — by checking their phone. Another 27% admits to watching TV and looking at their phone at the same time. “We live in a digitally-connected world and these survey results show how digital devices have completely transformed our lives, no matter our age,” said Dr. Michele Andrews, an optometrist with contact lens manufacturer CooperVision, the company that commissioned the survey. “Digital eye fatigue is faced by millions of Americans every day because of this non-stop screen time.”

5 Ways Being In Nature Changes Your Brain, According To Science

Scientific research has long documented how spending time in the great outdoors (and not just as a means to travel from point A to point B) can have numerous benefits for your overall well-being and mental health, and the field is only growing (no pun intended). A recent study, published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, found that even spending as little as five minutes outdoors was linked to a significant mood boost. […] here are five ways that being in nature can affect your brain. 1. It Can Create Long-Lasting Boosts for Your Mental Health A long-term 2014 study from University of Exeter Medical School in En­gland found that, on average, the people in the study who moved to greener areas experienced an immediate improvement in mental health and less mental distress. […] 2. It Can Help Decrease Activity in Areas of the Brain Linked to Depression A team of researchers from Stanford University found that participants who walked for 90 minutes through a green park on campus, versus strolling next to a loud nearby highway, exhibited “quieter” brains and dwelled less on the negative aspects of their lives (vs. how they felt pre-walk) in follow-up brain scans and questionnaires. […] 3. It Can Boost Your All-Around Wellness An in-depth analysis of 143 studies on the subject, published October 2018, found that health benefits of green spaces on humans include: improved heart rate and blood pressure, statistically significant reductions in cholesterol levels, improved sleep duration and neurological outcomes, as well as reductions in the prevalence of type II diabetes, cardiovascular mortality, and overall mortality. 4. Different “Levels” of Nature May Have Different Effects Depending on the “level” of nature you’re in, you may also reap varying benefits, according to a 2018 study. […] The researchers found that visiting both green environments was helpful in decreasing physical and psychological markers of stress in participants, but the people in the wilderness setting reported the most significantly decreased levels of stress, relative to the other two groups. 5. It May Help Improve Short-Term Attention Functioning Inspired by a notable 2008 study that suggested seeing photos of nature may improve attention functioning in young adults, a more recent study found that executive attention visibly improved in both older adults (64 to 79 year olds) and university-aged subjects (18 to 25 year olds) after short exposure to photos of nature. Good news for city dwellers with less access to nature: the participants’ attention immediately prior to and after seeing the nature photos was measured, and the study found that seeing those pictures did improve short-term attention and memory in both age groups.

What Does It Take to Have a Healthy Personality?

If you were to stop and think about what features constitute a truly “healthy” person from a psychological perspective, what would be your criteria? Is it necessary to be happy to be healthy? Do you have to be able to roll with the punches that life throws your way? Do you need to be in a good relationship? Does your record of truth-telling have to be squeaky clean? Should you steer clear of arguments? Try coming up with your own set of criteria and jot them down or just list them in your head right now. Hold on to your answers before you read further. University of California Davis psychologist Wiebke Bleidorn teamed up with a distinguished group of personality psychologists from around the U.S. and Germany to investigate exactly this question. It would seem to take a massive effort to get even two people to agree on what constitutes “health” from a psychological perspective. After all, would the criteria you listed to yourself agree with the ones you believe your own partner would generate? Making matters worse, there isn’t even 100% consensus among psychologists about the qualities that make up “personality.” However, if you are willing to take a leap of faith on that second question, perhaps the jobisn’t as impossible as it might seem at first glance.

Research Suggests Trump’s Election Has Been Detrimental to Many American’s Mental Health

As the possibility of a Hillary Clinton victory began to slip away—and the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency became more and more certain—the contours of the new age of American anxiety began to take shape. In a 2017 column, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank described this phenomenon as “Trump Hypertensive Unexplained Disorder” […] Two years later, the physiological effects of the Trump administration aren’t going away. A growing body of research has tracked the detrimental impacts of Trump-related stress on broad segments of the American population, from young adults to women, to racial and LGBT communities […] this stress has metastasized in an observable phenomenon: Clinical psychologist Jennifer Panning characterized the phenomenon as “Trump Anxiety Disorder,” a specific type of anxiety in which symptoms “were specific to the election of Trump and the resultant unpredictable sociopolitical climate.”

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 January 15, 2019

Happiness highest in states with lots of parks, libraries

New research suggests that Americans who live where more money is spent on these “public goods” are happier than their counterparts in other states. “Public goods are things you can’t exclude people from using — and one person using them doesn’t stop another from doing so,” explained study author Patrick Flavin. […] “They’re typically not profitable to produce in the private market, so if the government doesn’t provide them, they will either be under-provided or not at all,” he added in a university news release. […] “If roads are completed and kept up, so that people aren’t stuck in traffic, they have more time to do things they enjoy doing. Large parks are social spaces — and one clear finding of happiness studies is that people who are more socially connected tend to be happier,” he noted. […] “Compared to a lot of the other government spending, public goods tend to be less controversial between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, compared to poverty assistance or unemployment benefits, where there is definite disagreement between political parties,” Flavin said.

Even a little marijuana may change teen brain, study finds

Low levels of marijuana use — as few as one or two times — may change the teen brain, according to a new study. The study, which looked at the brains of 46 14-year-old girls and boys from Ireland, England, France and Germany, found that teenagers who reported using recreational marijuana just once or twice displayed increased volume on MRI images in numerous brain regions involved in emotion-related processing, learning and forming memories. The results of the study were published Monday in the Journal of Neuroscience. […] “At the age at which we studied these kids (age 14), cortical regions are going through a process of thinning,” he said, suggesting that this is a “sculpting” process that makes the brain and its connections more efficient. “So, one possibility is that the cannabis use has disrupted this pruning process, resulting in larger volumes (i.e., a disruption of typical maturation) in the cannabis users. Another possibility is that the cannabis use has led to a growth in neurons and in the connections between them.”

Recalling Positive Memories May Reduce Risk of Depression

Recalling specific positive memories and happy life experiences during adolescencemay help teens fortify their resilience and reduce the risk of depression later in life, according to a new study (Askelund et al., 2019) led by researchers from the University of Cambridge. This paper, “Positive Memory Specificity Is Associated with Reduced Vulnerability to Depression,” was published online ahead of print on January 14th in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. For this study, lead author Adrian Dahl Askelund and senior author, Anne-Laura van Harmelen, who are both affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, collaborated with their colleague Professor Ian Goodyer and co-author, Susanne Schweizer from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University College London. Van Harmelen is also a Fellow at Lucy Cavendish College and Director of the Risk and Resilience Group. 

Study: Many parents don’t know their kids have contemplated suicide

Half of parents whose teenagers have had thoughts of suicide don’t know it, and more than three-quarters of parents are unaware that their children think a lot about death, according to a new study. […] “We identified that really large numbers of parents were unaware that their youth were thinking about killing themselves, and 75 percent did not know their kids were thinking a lot about death and dying,” said Rhonda Boyd, a study co-author and clinical psychologist with CHOP. Denial: Moreover, when parents said they believed their offspring were having thoughts of suicide, most of those parents’ children denied having such thoughts. “The discrepancy between parent and teen reports is quite alarming,” said study lead author Jason D. Jones, a CHOP research scientist. “Parental unawareness and adolescent denial of suicidal thoughts may prevent at-risk teens from receiving the mental-health services they need.”

Australian nursing home residents “tuned into zombies” by prescription drugs: experts

 Australian nursing home residents are being administered psychotropic drugs for years at a time, an expert has warned. In a submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety […] Juanita Westbury said that more than 60 percent of nursing home residents were taking at least one psychotropic every day. The most common drugs were antipsychotics developed to treat schizophrenia, anti-depressants and benzodiazepines licensed for short-term use only because of “side effects of drowsiness, language impairment, cognitive impairment (and) falls. Residents were often on doses of antipsychotics for years,” Westbury told News Corp Australia on Tuesday. “And frequently they were on multiple agents or not taken off doses before giving them another, different drug. When taken by people with dementia, antipsychotics increase the risk of stroke, death from any cause, heart arrhythmias and pneumonia and also cause metabolic and movement disorders.” […] “Residents in aged-care homes are being turned into zombies to manage their behavior. It is a lazy practice, it is ignorant and it masks real health issues a person might have.”

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for January 14, 2019

Is It Safe To Take Melatonin Supplements While On Antidepressants? Here’s What Experts Say

So, is taking melatonin supplements when you’re also on antidepressants safe? Dr. Anthony Tobia, a psychology professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, tells Bustle, “Melatonin is generally safe with regard to some of the antidepressants. However, the issue is that combined with the [melatonin] supplement, the antidepressants may be over sedating.” This is because fatigue is already a common side effect of most antidepressants, as well as other psychotropic medicines such as antipsychotics and anti-anxiety medications. Another potential health issue that arises with combining melatonin supplements and certain antidepressants, Tobia says, is an increased bleeding risk. However, a 2018 report found that found the bleeding risk on antidepressants to be “clinically insignificant” for most people. “Even at low doses, individuals at an advanced age may tend to have or be more susceptible to those sedating side effects, as well as those who are younger, and people with co-occurring or complex medical histories,” says Tobia. “The more medical problems you have, the higher the risk of medication side effects — sedation in particular.”

Does Bullying Lead To Depression? A New Survey Demonstrates Just How Significant The Impact Can Be

The findings? Participants who were bullied or sexually abused were up to four times more likely to take antidepressants, with survivors of sexual abuse the most likely to take them. Those who had experienced bullying, sexual abuse, or both were also more likely to report a lower health-related quality of life. Respondents who were bullied for over two years were twice as likely to be dependent on smoking, as were those who experienced sexual abuse under the age of 10, over the age of 20, or for a duration of over a month. Excessive alcohol consumption occurred more frequently in those who were bullied as a child, or for over two years, while those who were bullied or sexually abused as an adult were more likely to experience binge eating.

VIDEO: Consumers may be unaware of suicide risks associated with popular prescription drugs

Suicide is a very real potential side-effect to some medications — medications that are prescribed to teens and young adults. The dangers made headlines in the early 2000’s when FDA and Congressional hearings were flooded with families who’d lost loved ones who had taken a class of antidepressants called SSRI’s. But now, time has passed and with it the public awareness of what drugs like Zoloft, Paxil and Prozac can cause a person to do. They’re still on the market and a whole new generation of parents is unaware of the deadly risks. A reality that pains Mathy Downing. “It’s very hard for me to talk about what happened to Candace as a suicide, because it really wasn’t. It was a drug-induced psychosis. Zoloft abducted our child and killed her. This was not a choice. This was not a choice she made,” said Downing. […] “She was never depressed,” said Andy. “She had anxieties from testing at school. Had a lot of friends. Played basketball on a team. And I just kept asking myself over and over again, ‘this doesn’t make sense,” 12-year-old girls don’t hang themselves.” […] Now, 15-years after Candace’s death, the Downing’s are still sounding the alarm about Zoloft and other SSRI’s, which remain on the market, and are reaching new generations of parents, with no knowledge of the risks and no recollection of the FDA hearings that got the attention of the nation in the early 2000’s.

List of 203 prescription and over-the-counter meds that can cause depression and suicidality. 

Want to be happier? Try getting to know yourself

By self-knowledge, psychologists mean having an understanding of our feelings, motivations, thinking patterns and tendencies. These give us a stable sense of self-worth and a secure grip on our values and motivations. Without self-knowledge we cannot have an internal measure of our own worth. This leaves us vulnerable to accepting others’ opinions of us as truths. If a co-worker decides (and acts as if) we are worthless, we may swallow their verdict. We end up looking out to the world, rather than into ourselves, in order to know what we should feel, think and want. […] So how can we learn to know how we feel? People can have different ways of thinking about themselves. We can think about our history, and how past experiences have made us who we are. […] The best way to start would be talking with an insightful friend or a trained therapist.  […] there are several other traditions throughout history that have explored ways of getting to know ourselves. Both Stoic philosophy and Buddhist traditions valued self-knowledge and developed practices to nurture awareness of mental states – such as meditation.

Children Can Suffer Serious Side Effects from Antipsychotic Medications

New research shows that antipsychotic medications can lead to serious side effects or even death for some children. The recent study was published in JAMA Psychiatry and underscores past concerns members of the medical community have had about this class of drug that’s used to treat mental health conditions. The observational study looked at the data of almost 248,000 children and young adults in Tennessee from the age of 5 to 24 who were enrolled in Medicaid between 1999 and 2014. The patient data focused on people who weren’t diagnosed with some kind of psychosis, a symptom of a mental illness such as schizophrenia that can produce effects such as hallucinations. “Antipsychotics are fairly dangerous drugs,” said Wayne A. Ray, PhD, lead author and a professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee. “One of the questions heading into this was, ‘Given how infrequent unexpected death is in otherwise healthy children, would there be enough deaths to see the impact of antipsychotics?’ In fact, there were. The findings suggest that the concern over deaths related to antipsychotics in younger populations have an important public health impact.”

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 January 13, 2019

Study: Social-media junkies make riskier decisions

A new study on social media use out Jan. 10 found that people who spent excessive time on Facebook also made riskier decisions — performing as poorly in a famous psychological test as people dependent on substances such as cocaine or heroin. […] “They’re constantly thinking about these platforms when they’re not using them,” said the study’s lead author, Dar Meshi. “They’re losing sleep because they’re on social media.” […] “Rather than using technology to empower consumers, too often we’ve seen large technology companies — particularly in the social media space — utilize technology, along with tricks gleaned from behavioral psychology, to disempower users — undermining their ability to make informed, deliberate choices in their use of tech products.”

Tumbling Further Down the Rabbit Hole of Antidepressant Withdrawal Research

For those still interested in the recent antidepressant withdrawal debate, here is a new and important installment. Before we get to the essential part, let us first recall that our systematic review in Addictive Behaviors (2018) showed, among other things, that around half of people who stop antidepressants experience withdrawal. This conclusion was critiqued in a blog by Joseph Hayes and Sameer Jauhar, to which we responded by pointing out the blog’s many serious errors and misrepresentations (see our response here).

Antidepressants In Our Water Are Messing With Animals

We have a depression problem. According to JAMA Internal Medicine and Scientific American, 12% of American adults take an antidepressant. In England, according to The Guardian, 1 in 6 were prescribed an antidepressant in 2017, which represents a significant jump. While there are questions about what these drugs do exactly to our minds and bodies, scientists are also concerned about what they do to animals, especially those who live in our water. When we take antidepressants, a lot of those chemicals are released into the water through our urine. Drugs can also get into the system when we flush old or unused pills. A recent study took a look at Niagara River, the connection between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, to see where the chemicals end up. By looking at the brains of fish living there, scientists discovered the presence of common antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft. The chemicals – in the form of metabolites and antihistamines – were also in the fish’s muscles, gonads, and livers. They were saturated. A wide variety of fish were affected, from largemouth bass to walleye to steelhead. Another study, published by Ecology and Evolution, examined how a creature’s behavior might be affected. Researchers looked at Oregon shore crabs and the active ingredient in Prozac.

Drug overdose deaths skyrocket among middle-aged women

America’s drug crisis is taking a deadly toll on a group you might not expect: middle-aged women. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that drug overdose deaths among females aged 30 to 64 have skyrocketed in recent years. According to the report, from 1999 to 2017, the drug overdose death rate in this age group more than tripled. The rate rose 260 percent, from 6.7 deaths per 100,000 people (4,314 overdose deaths total) to 24.3 per 100,000 (18,110 deaths). “Specific groups of Americans are exquisitely vulnerable to the catastrophic consequences of the opioid epidemic,” Dr. Harshal D. Kirane, director of addiction services at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, told CBS News. “Sadly, we are continuing to identify new groups to add to the list.”

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 January 12, 2019

Video: New study says social media could lead to depression

A new medical study recently published indicates the constant need for “likes” and “love” on social media could lead to depression. From Instagram, to Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook […] the constant need for love and attention on social media can actually lead to mental breakdowns and depression in millennials. “You get bored and the first instinct is to check your phone. Even if nothing’s new, you just check in case you missed something,” said Colb. Experts report that part of the issue is that social media users are constantly comparing themselves to others. […] “Everyone on the internet just looks so perfect like they all are seemingly living these perfect lives and like they have perfect bodies and stuff. I can see why somebody would get depressed because they’d be like, why can’t that be me?” […] experts say you should try to remember, don’t compare yourself with people you follow on social media platforms. That’s due in part because there’s a good chance that perfect picture you see online may not actually be the reality.

Certain Psychiatric Drugs Linked to Elevated Pneumonia Risk

A review of published studies indicates that use of benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine related drugs (BZRDs), which are prescribed to treat various psychiatric diseases, may increase the risk of pneumonia. The International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry analysis included 12 reports related to 10 studies involving more than 120,000 pneumonia cases. After pooling the estimates, the odds for developing pneumonia were 1.25-fold higher in BZRD users compared with individuals who had not taken BZRDs. There was an increased risk of pneumonia among current and recent users, but not past users.

How Humans Evolved to Love Horror Movies

Movies such as these have a single mission: To terrify their viewers. But why do so many people choose to spend two hours in perpetual fear? New research provides a clear answer: We are evolutionarily wired to seek out such material. […] “Horror movies tend to imaginatively transport consumers into fictional universes that brim with dangers,” the researchers write. “Through such imaginative absorption, people get to experience strong, predominantly negative emotions within a safe context. This experience serves as a way of preparing for real-world threat situations.” […] Echoing earlier research, the study found that horror-movie appeal peaked in adolescence and decreased with age […] fans of the genre reported that, beyond mere fear, watching such films produced “higher levels of several types of positive emotions: Joy, trust, anticipation, and surprise.” These pleasant experiences “apparently more than compensated for the high level of expected fear.” These findings suggest that, at least for horror devotees, “such media provide a stimulus for greater mastery of initially [terrifying] situations,” the researchers conclude. “With exposure, one builds up a certain level of coping competence.”

Effect of integrated yoga on anti-psychotic induced side effects and cognitive functions in patients suffering from schizophrenia

Yoga has recently emerged as an effective and safe complementary mind–body intervention in variety of psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia [10, 11]. […] current study was planned as a preliminary attempt to assess effect of 5 months Integrated Yoga intervention on anti-psychotic-induced side effects, cognitive functions, positive and negative symptoms and anthropometric measures in chronic schizophrenia patients.  […] Results At the end of five months, significant reduction in drug-induced Parkinsonian symptoms (SAS score; p=0.001) and 38 items of UKU scale was observed along with significant improvement in processing speed, executive functions and negative symptoms of schizophrenia patients. No side effects of Yoga were reported. Conclusions The present study provides preliminary evidence for usefulness of Integrated Yoga intervention in managing anti-psychotic-induced side effects.

Mindfulness May Enhance the Performance of US Special Forces

Mindfulness training significantly enhances the performance of elite US special forces, a new study has discovered. Even the simplest of mindfulness exercises were shown to enhance working memory, clarity of thought, and the ability to focus under extreme pressure. ‘Previous studies have found that mindfulness protects against the deterioration in cognitive performance during periods of high stress to help special forces sustain their performance and well-being over time’ […] It is so effective that mindfulness meditation is now recommended for the treatment of anxiety, stress and depression by the UK’s National HealthService, many US Hospitals, and other healthcare systems around the world. Mindfulness seems to be particularly effective for relieving the worst forms of depression. Indeed, one programme – Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) – is recommended for the most severe forms of depression by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which evaluates treatments for the NHS.

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

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

News & Information for January 11, 2019

10 Bizarre Side Effects of Common Medications

Top among the drugs that may decrease or suppress sexual arousal and performance, says Walker, are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) Paxil, Celexa, and Zoloft  […] “A number of antibiotics may cause changes in sense of taste or smell” […] culprits include tricyclic antidepressants, some antipsychotics, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers, hypnotics […] An estimated 10 to 15 percent of weight problems may be related to medications. […] Some common medications associated with weight gain include corticosteroids, tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs like Prozac, Celexa, and Paxil.

Tobacco use linked with higher use of opioids and sedatives

Tobacco is a known risk factor for the misuse of prescription opioids. In addition, concurrent use of opioids and sedative-hypnotics is a risk factor for opioid overdose or addiction. In an American Journal on Addictions study, tobacco users were more likely to receive prescriptions for opioid analgesics with muscle relaxants and/or benzodiazepines than people who did not use tobacco. The findings, which come from an annual survey of visits to office-based physicians in outpatient settings in the United States, suggest that appropriate caution should be exercised while co-prescribing opioid analgesics with muscle relaxants and/or benzodiazepines among tobacco users to prevent prescription drug addiction.

Happiness is Contagious. Let’s Spread Some Joy Germs

Using data from the landmark Framingham Heart Study, researchers analyzed the dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network. What they concluded is that “people’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected.” […] The study proved that indirect relationships play a role in our happiness, too. According to the study’s co-author, James H. Fowler, PhD, there is a statistical relationship between your happiness and your friends’ friends’ friends’ happiness. Something they call” three degrees of separation”. You may be wondering if that means unhappiness is also contagious. It is, but fortunately to a much lesser degree. Fowler emphasizes this point by saying there’s no need to avoid unhappy people. Instead, he suggests making an effort whenever you can to spread happiness.

Neuroimaging shows social exclusion spurs extremism in those vulnerable to radicalization

A new study used neuroimaging techniques to show that social exclusion increases the number of ideological and group values worth fighting and dying for in populations vulnerable to radicalization. The study focused on neural activity in a region of the brain related to rule retrieval and sacred values. The results can help guide policies and actions capable of counteracting vulnerability to radicalization and propensity to violent extremism. […] Sacred values are those perceived as non-negotiable, those which must be upheld at all costs […] “Alongside other studies, these findings suggest that sacred values are processed through an ethical reasoning based on duty or ‘what must be done’, and not an evaluation of costs and benefits, while nonsacred values are more flexible and subject to negotiation” […] this leads us to think that social exclusion can lead to the sacralisation of group values, making them more similar to sacred values, both in the neural activity observed and in a greater expressed willingness to fight and die defending them.” 

Video: Criticism of the American Psychological Association’s diagnosis of “traditional masculinity” as a social malady targeted for remediation from feminist Christina Hoff Sommers

STUDY: Men and women remember pain differently

A new study by researchers from Montreal and Toronto challenges the age-old myth that men are tougher in handling pain than women. The study found that although women are slightly more sensitive to physical pain in general, men remember it more deeply and are likelier to be more stressed in dealing with the same pain in the future. The findings are expected to revolutionize the field of pain research and could lead to better treatments for chronic pain. “What’s interesting about this is that if you were going to make a guess about there being a sex difference here, almost everyone — including me — would have guessed the other way,” said Jeffrey Mogil, a professor in the department of psychology at McGill University and co-author of the study. “Men are supposed to be stoic and macho and women don’t have to be, and so if anyone is going to admit to being stressed on Day Two it should be the women. But it wasn’t. It was the men.” […] “It’s either that the men are remembering (the pain) and the women aren’t, or it’s that they’re both remembering but only in men is that memory causing stress,” Mogil explained. The findings suggest that memory plays a role in chronic pain. “This is an important finding because increasing evidence suggests that chronic pain is a problem to the extent that you remember it, and this study is the first time such remembered pain has been shown using a translational — both rodent and human subject — approach.”

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 January 10, 2019

APA issues first-ever guidelines for practice with men and boys

For the first time ever, APA is releasing guidelines to help psychologists work with men and boys. At first blush, this may seem unnecessary. For decades, psychology focused on men (particularly white men), to the exclusion of all others. […] But something is amiss for men as well. Men commit 90 percent of homicides in the United States and represent 77 percent of homicide victims. They’re the demographic group most at risk of being victimized by violent crime. They are 3.5 times more likely than women to die by suicide, and their life expectancy is 4.9 years shorter than women’s. Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder than girls, and they face harsher punishments in school—especially boys of color. […] The main thrust of the subsequent research is that traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful. Men socialized in this way are less likely to engage in healthy behaviors. 

A critique of the APA’s new guidelines for practice with men and boys

Earlier this week I wrote an extended essay defending traditional masculinity from a frontal attack by the American Psychological Association. […] the assault on traditional masculinity — while liberating to men who don’t fit traditional norms — is itself harmful to the millions of young men who seek to be physically and mentally tough, to rise to challenges, and demonstrate leadership under pressure. The assault on traditional masculinity is an assault on their very natures. The guidelines triggered a backlash online, and yesterday its “Division 51” — the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinities of the American Psychological Association — issued a statement. And that statement is a case study in misdirection. […] Are boys disproportionately adventurous? Are they risk-takers? Do they feel a need to be strong? Do they often by default reject stereotypically “feminine” characteristics. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Are those things inherently wrong or harmful? Absolutely not. It depends greatly on how a boy is raised — how his traditional masculinity is channeled.

Ian’s thoughts: today a rambunctious boy comes home from the doctor with an “ADHD” diagnosis and bottle of pills. Now we have to wonder if in the future boys will come home with a “boyhood” diagnosis and bottle of pills. While some of what the APA’s press release says has the ring of truth, perhaps we should be skeptical of institutions circumscribing innate “traditional” human traits (eg, stoicism, competitiveness, bravery, risk-taking, etc) as targets for remedial intervention. Moreover, when mental-health practitioners care for someone, they should see that individual, not the classes they belong to. The more we perceive someone’s sex, gender, race, etc, the less clearly we perceive them.

 Video: Depression linked to common drugs such as ibuprofen, list of 200 common drugs that could alter your mood

A third of Americans are taking medication that can cause depression. That’s according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Some 200 prescription meds could lead to depression. But, it’s the really common drugs that may surprise you. We are talking about common drugs you probably have at home such as ibuprofen, Prilosec, allergy meds such as Zyrtec and birth control pills. The study published in JAMA shows blood pressure medication, steroids, heartburn meds, allergy and birth control pills could affect your mood. […] “For example, you’re skiing you hurt your knee. It’s not terrible so you say I’ll take some ibuprofen it will get better. Maybe the ibuprofen upsets your stomach. So you take omeprazole to help with the ibuprofen. Now you have two medicines that are on the list that could increase your risk for depression. And you’ve changed your activity level that could increase your risk for depression so you’ve got 3 factors against you,” Schonrock. 

The study: Prevalence of Prescription Medications With Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect. And the list therefrom of the medications that can cause depression is in this PDF file

Decreased deep sleep linked to early signs of Alzheimer’s disease

Poor sleep is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. People with the disease tend to wake up tired, and their nights become even less refreshing as memory loss and other symptoms worsen. But how and why restless nights are linked to Alzheimer’s disease is not fully understood. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis may have uncovered part of the explanation. They found that older people who have less slow-wave sleep—the deep sleep you need to consolidate memories and wake up feeling refreshed—have higher levels of the brain protein tau. Elevated tau is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease and has been linked to brain damage and cognitive decline.

Controlling children’s behavior with screen time leads to more screen time, study reveals

Giving your child extra time on the iPad for good behaviour may not be the best idea according to a new University of Guelph study. Researchers found children, whose parents dole out screen time as a reward or revoke it as punishment, spend more time on a smartphone, tablet, computer or in front of the television than children whose parents don’t. “It’s similar to how we shouldn’t use sugary treats as rewards because by doing so we can heighten the attraction to them,” said family relations and applied nutrition professor Jess Haines, who worked on the study with Lisa Tang. “When you give food as a reward it makes children like the carrot less and the cake more. Same thing with screen time.” […] “Watching screens takes away from other interactions that help children develop social and academic skills. Our hope is that these findings can help us arm parents who are entering a world where screens are ubiquitous.”

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for January 9, 2019

Dr. Breggin: How Love Can Reformat Our Lives

Nearly fifty years ago, I first met Ginger as I exited an airplane into the Detroit airport and saw her waiting for me. She was my ride to my hotel. In order to identify herself, she was holding my second novel with the large photo of me on the back over. I did not know that she had already fallen in love with me from the book and the photo.

Co-use of prescribed benzodiazepines and opioids is increasing among older adults

Using a nationally representative sample, Rhee estimated national rates and prescribing trends and found that: * the rate of prescription benzodiazepines alone increased from 4.8 percent in 2006-2007 to 6.2 percent in 2014-2015; * the rate of prescription opioids alone increased from 5.9 percent in 2006-2007 to 10 percent in 2014-2015; * the co-prescribing rate of both benzodiazepines and opioids increased over time from 1.1 percent in 2006-2007 to 2.7 percent in 2014-2015. […] “Because both benzodiazepines and opioids carry high-risks for older adults, the increasing use of these medications is concerning,” said Rhee. 

I finally decided to find a good therapist after 6 years of taking anti-depressants, here’s what you need to know…

I recently faced the realisation that, after six years of taking antidepressants, I should probably try and find a therapist. It wasn’t like I have ever been adverse to the idea. It was more that the antidepressants were so effective at alleviating the symptoms of my debilitating anxiety, OCD and panic disorder that they negated any need for professional help. Of course, they didn’t really. They masked my symptoms, rather than treating the underlying causes. And after an exploratory article in the Autumn Winter print issue of GLAMOUR into the potential long-term side effects of antidepressants, as well as an investigation into what actually constitutes adequate mental health treatment, I resolved to find a therapist – pronto. Here’s how to know if you’re suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder and how you can cure it.

Does love or lack of it make us crazy? From ancient history and literature to modern times.

My guest on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hourtoday, Wednesday January 9, 2019 is Cornell Professor of Classics, Michael Fontaine PhD who is one of my favorite people to talk with on or off the air.  We will explore love and madness in ancient times.  How was love viewed and lived 2,000 or more years ago?  What does classical literature have to teach vs. modern and Christian literature?  How does it explain or view homosexuality?  Will ancient views shed light on modern times?  Does it bolster my new theory linking difficulties with feeling and expressing love to what psychiatry calls “mental disorders?”  The show can be heard live on Wednesday January 9 at 4 pm NY time  on www.prn.fm.  The radio show archive will be found on www.breggin.com.   Remember, you can call in to join the conversation on the air at 888 874 4888.  We welcome callers!!!

A hormone released during exercise might protect against Alzheimer’s

A hormone released during exercise may protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease. It may also explain the known positive effects of exercise on mental performance. Irisin is a hormone generated by muscle tissue that is carried around the body in the bloodstream. Fernana de Felice at the Federal University of Rio de Janerio and colleagues found that people with Alzheimer’s had lower levels of the hormone compared with healthy individuals. In tests with mice, the team could induce learning and memory deficits by cutting out irisin and could reverse the effects by restoring the hormone. When irisin signalling was blocked in mice with a rodent version of Alzheimer’s, the brain benefits of physical exercise were lost.

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

By Dr. Peter Breggin

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

News & Information for January 8, 2019

CDC study shows veterinarians at increased risk of suicide

Veterinarians in the U.S. are at an increased risk of suicide, a trend that has spanned more than three decades, according to a study recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study is the first to show increased suicide mortality among female veterinarians. Female veterinarians were 3.5 times more as likely, and male veterinarians were 2.1 times more likely, to die from suicide as the general population. Seventy-five percent of the veterinarians who died by suicide worked in a small animal practice. […] “Too many of our colleagues have either contemplated, attempted or died by suicide,” AVMA President John de Jong said. “And, one suicide is clearly too many. Working with our colleagues throughout the veterinary community will help us find solutions more quickly. This issue is affecting not only our profession, but society as a whole, in numbers greater than ever before.”

Positive thinking IS the key to a healthy old age: Optimists who believe their life has a meaning ‘walk faster, have stronger grips and suffer less pain as they get older’, study finds

Researchers at University College London questioned more than 7,000 people aged 50 to 90 on how meaningful they felt their life was. Those who judged life most worthwhile were 16 per cent more likely to be married and 13 per cent less likely to live alone. They were 13 per cent more likely to see friends at least weekly, and much more likely to be a member of an organisation, from church to Neighbourhood Watch or a social club. […] ‘Finding meaning when you are sitting on your own is quite tricky, since for most people this is linked to their relationships. ‘We were struck by how important this feeling of meaning was, with people who saw their lives as meaningful being much more healthy as well as being socially engaged.’ 

Adults with autism can read complex emotions in others

New research shows for the first time that adults with autism can recognize complex emotions such as regret and relief in others as easily as those without the condition. […] The adults with ASD were found to be just as good at recognising regret emotions in the character as adults without the condition, and even better at computing relief. […] ‘Our study is unusual in using state-of-the-art eye-tracking methods to test how people understand emotions in real time. We have shown that, contrary to previous research that has highlighted the difficulties adults with autism experience with empathy and perspective-taking, people with autism possess previously overlooked strengths in processing emotions.’

Study: Facebook use linked to perceptions of worsening physical health

In the first study of its kind, published today in the journal Heliyon, researchers led by Dr Bridget Dibb investigated the relationship between Facebook and perceptions of physical health. One hundred and sixty five participants, all Facebook users, were surveyed to identify levels of comparison with others on the social networking site, self-esteem rates, perceived physical health and life satisfaction. Researchers found that participants who compared themselves to others on Facebook had greater awareness of physical ailments, such as sleep problems, weight change and muscle tension. It is believed that those who compare with others on Facebook may perceive more physical symptoms but equally, those who perceive more symptoms may compare more with others on Facebook. Social comparison is a process where comparisons are made to others in order to evaluate our lives and are more likely to occur when we feel uncertain about our situation.

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 January 7, 2019

The Monster in Our House: What Psychiatric Medication Did to My Father

My father’s transition from being an independent person to one who could no longer care for himself was messy and prolonged. It took years for us to truly recognize his decline. We knew he was on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications and that they didn’t seem to be successful. […] No one tells you when it’s time to take over for a parent’s care. You just realize that someone’s at the end of their rope, and they’re about to fall. My realization came when my father’s housemate called us to let us know he had driven my father to his first electroshock treatment. […] When I called the clinic that was performing the “emergency” electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on the advice of my father’s newest psychiatrist, it was clear to me that they did not know what medications he was taking, were expecting him to get himself to and from the clinic without driving (he planned to drive himself until we intervened and paid people to drive), believed he would actually follow their instructions (you’re not supposed to drive for at least a week after your last treatment), and believed he was on the brink of committing suicide. But my father was almost 70 and had never attempted suicide. I was alarmed.

Visions of Addiction: How Opioids Hijack the Brain

The opioid epidemic is devastating America. Overdoses have passed car crashes and gun violence to become the leading cause of death for Americans under 55. The epidemic has killed more people than HIV did at its peak, and the death toll exceeds those of the wars in Vietnam and Iraq combined. […] To understand what goes through the minds and bodies of opioid users, The New York Times spent months interviewing users, family members and addiction experts. […] You naturally produce endorphins, the body’s own version of opioids, which act in the reward circuits of the brain to make you feel good after you work out, hug a friend or eat your favorite foods. A drug like heroin creates a tidal wave in the reward circuits of the brain. To an outsider, it looks as though you have passed out. But on the inside you feel like a master of the universe, like you’re being “hugged by Jesus,” as one user said; there’s peace in your skin and not a single feeling of pain. You may remember this exact moment for years to come: where you were, what you wore, what you saw and what you heard. You may chase this feeling for years. As the high wears off, the brain regains its balance — but not for everyone. That’s the opioid trap for many people: In the beginning, no serious ill effects are apparent. But the brain rewires little by little with each use.  

ADHD in Children Linked with Prenatal Antiepilepsy Drug Use

Scientists in Denmark have identified a link between maternal use of the antiepilepsy drug (AED) valproate during pregnancy, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in their offspring. The population-based observational study, led by Jakob Christensen, MD, clinical associate professor, and a team at Aarhus University Hospital, included more than 913,000 children. […] The team’s analyses indicated that overall, children who had been prenatally exposed to valproate were at a 48% increased risk of ADHD compared with the unexposed children. The absolute 15-year risk of ADHD was 4.6% in unexposed children, and 11.0% in those children who had been exposed to valproate during pregnancy. “In the offspring of women who used valproate in monotherapy during pregnancy (n = 431), the risk of ADHD was increased by 52% compared with the risk in the offspring of women who did not use AEDs during pregnancy.” 

Writing your way out of postpartum depression

Journaling has been thought to be a practice for young people, who are trying to figure out who they are and deal with their intense emotions and hormones. While it can certainly be helpful for those purposes, journaling is not exclusively for teens; it’s for anyone who can write. […] She says journaling has a way of bringing emotions to the surface,  depressed and grieving persons try to deal with those emotions in a healthy way, not denying them. “This journal allows them to write down their daily or weekly journey and they are able to go back and reflect and be able to see where they can make improvements if needed,” she says.

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 January 6, 2019

7 Tips to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

Try these seven science-backed tips for exercise motivation. 1. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET  […] Instead of seeing exercise as a hassle, too exhausting, the worst part of your day and so on, view it as an essential, positive component of your self-care. […] 2. GIVE IN TO TEMPTATIONS […] Sometimes, a little bribe goes a long way in exercise motivation […] save listening to your favorite music, podcasts, audiobooks, etc. for when you’re at the gym. […] 3. SET SIMPLE GOALS […] “Remember to make your goals realistic and achievable,” Mayo Clinic says. “It’s easy to get frustrated and give up if your goals are too ambitious.” […] 4. SCHEDULE YOUR WORKOUTS […] Try working out first thing in the morning, so exercise becomes No. 1 on your to-do list — and the first thing you get to cross off. Join a morning exercise group. […] 5. INCORPORATE RESISTANCE TRAINING […] A study on older adults found resistance training helped to improve exercise motivation […] 6. MAKE A BET […] So if you need some added exercise motivation, try placing a bet on yourself. There are several apps that will reward you with financial incentives when you meet health and fitness goals. […] 7. GET COMPETITIVE […] The study found comparison (or competition) was much more effective in increasing physical activity than support alone.

Dr. Zorba Paster: Exercise key to feeling better

Exercise improves your mental health. […] Folks who exercised, especially those who engaged regularly, had significantly fewer mental health days than those who didn’t. The exercises that topped the list were team sports, aerobic exercise and biking. Researchers found that more exercise wasn’t necessarily better. Just doing something is what counted. Whether middle-class or poor, educated or not, smoker or non-smoker, normally healthy or having medical problems — all had better mental health days with exercise.

Researchers Push Back Against Recommendation to Combine Antidepressants

Researchers challenge the recommendation of starting two antidepressants simultaneously to increase preventative effects against suicide. […] “In sum, there is a growing body of evidence from meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials and from representative real-world pharmacoepidemiologic studies that newer generation antidepressants may increase the suicide risk, while there still is a lack of consistent evidence whether combining antidepressants is an effective strategy to reduce depression symptoms,”  Hengartner and Plöderl write. […] “We contend that the recommendations of Horgan and Malhi (2018) to start two antidepressants to prevent suicide is at best empirically unsubstantiated and at worst conflicting with the literature and thus potentially dangerous.”

Schizophrenia and Vitamin D Levels in Pregnancy

Schizophrenia is a severe mental health condition that often requires medications to manage symptoms. Recently, researchers from the University of Queensland and Aarhus University looked at the levels of vitamin D at birth and likelihood of becoming schizophrenic. They looked at over 2600 individuals between 1981 and 2000 in Denmark. What was found is that babies with low vitamin D had a 44% greater risk of having schizophrenia later in life.  This is quite an important and significant finding. Past studies have also seen an association with low vitamin D and autism.

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 January 5, 2019

People with schizophrenia-related disorders do not have categorically different social brain function than healthy controls

[I]ndividuals with schizophrenia do not have categorically different social brain function than those without mental illness […] “We know that, on average, people with schizophrenia have more social impairment than people in the general population […] But we needed to take an agnostic approach and let the data tell us what the brain-behavioural profiles of our study participants looked like. It turned out that the relationship between brain function and social behaviour had nothing to do with conventional diagnostic categories in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).”

Ian’s thoughts: first described in the medical literature by Emile Kraepelin in 1887, scientists are still looking for a biomarker of schizophrenia, which if found would be a neurological fingerprint that even without other knowledge of a subject could confirm a DSM schizophrenia diagnosis. Perhaps some day neurological evidence for the diagnosis, or for any DSM diagnosis for that matter, will be found. Until then psychiatrists will keep pouring chemicals and blasting electricity into diagnosed brains as if they knew what they were doing. See also this recent related study we posted last year.

Detecting depression: Phone apps could monitor teen angst

Studies have linked heavy smartphone use with worsening teen mental health. But as teens scroll through Instagram and Snapchat, tap out texts or watch YouTube videos, they also leave digital footprints that might offer clues to their psychological well-being. Changes in typing speed, voice tone, word choice and how often kids stay home could signal trouble, according to preliminary studies. There might be as many as 1,000 smartphone “biomarkers” for depression, said Dr. Thomas Insel, former head of the National Institute of Mental Health and now a leader in the smartphone psychiatry movement. […] “The biggest hurdle at the moment,” Allen said, “is to learn about what’s the signal and what’s the noise — what is in this enormous amount of data that people accumulate on their phones that is indicative of a mental health crisis.”

Depression in girls linked to higher use of social media

Research suggests link between social media use and depressive symptoms was stronger for girls compared with boys.  Girls’ much-higher rate of depression than boys is closely linked to the greater time they spend on social media, and online bullying and poor sleep are the main culprits for their low mood, new research reveals. As many as three-quarters of 14-year-old girls who suffer from depression also have low self-esteem, are unhappy with how they look and sleep for seven hours or less each night, the study found. “Girls, it seems, are struggling with these aspects of their lives more than boys, in some cases considerably so,” said Prof Yvonne Kelly, from University College London, who led the team behind the findings.

How running cured my anxiety – and a broken heart

When my marriage ended, I realised that a lifetime of anxiety had left me unable to cope. Then I pulled on some old leggings and started jogging. […] If ever there is a trigger to make you try to change something, it’s the shock of your marriage collapsing. […] Weeks after my marriage collapsed, I was still sick with it all. At work, I would regularly go into the toilets and cry quietly. At home, I would put on my pyjamas the moment I got in and mindlessly watch TV. When I went out, I drank too much and would cry again. […] Since that first short and sad run I took over four years ago, I have lived alone, travelled, changed jobs and begun a new relationship. Knowing I could do a 10K meant I knew I could fly to New York for a job interview, and that I could step outside my door alone without hyperventilating. It’s a measure of how over the whole “starter marriage” I am that I sat across from my boyfriend at dinner last year and proposed to him (he said yes, thank the lord). Running has given me a new identity, one that no longer sees danger and fear first. I ran myself out of misery.

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 January 4, 2019

Alert 76: Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal Projects & Courses

Psychiatric drug withdrawal projects around the world are vividly described by journalist Beth Greenfield on Yahoo Lifestyle. I believe it will take a patient-driven rebellion to stop the massive medicating of adults and children around the world.  Greenfield describes the beginning of that groundswell as a handful of practitioners and untold numbers of victims work toward establishing a movement to help people withdraw from neurotoxic psychiatric drugs. 

Antipsychotics Tied to Higher Risk of Death in Children

Between 1996 and 2001, notes David Healy in Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder, there was a fivefold increase in the use of antipsychotics in preschoolers and preteens. The second-generation atypicals (Zyprexa, Risperdal, Abilify, Seroquel, and others) were often prescribed off-label for a variety of indications, including depression, ADHD, mood stabilization, and behavioral control. From the outset, they were known to contribute to cardiovascular and metabolic problems, chiefly weight gain, tardive dyskinesia, and diabetes. But whether the drugs themselves were associated with an increased risk of death was, at least officially, unknown. That is no longer the case. The first sizable (250,000-person) study on the subject was recently published online in JAMA Psychiatry, largely concerning children and teens diagnosed with ADHD. Led by Wayne A. Ray at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, the study controlled for multiple factors, including schizophrenia, suicide, and overdose. Of the three groups studied, it determined that the one receiving a higher dose of antipsychotic medication had a “significantly increased risk of unexpected death compared with the group that received control medication.”

UK Poll: 24% use mindfulness sessions to support mental health

Employee Benefits poll: Nearly a quarter (24%) of organisations use mindfulness sessions to support employees with mental health in January. A straw poll of www.employeebenefits.co.uk readers, which received 42 responses, also found that the same percentage of employers offer flexible working options to help staff deal with seasonal mental health challenges, while 21% rely on employee assistance programmes (EAPs) for the same purpose. According to the poll, almost a fifth (19%) of employers organise wellbeing events or activities to help employees ward off the ‘January blues’, while 12% provide counselling.

11 Meditation Apps to Help You Relax, De-Stress

It sounds counterintuitive, but the very device that demands your attention and buzzes with texts, tweets, and emails at all hours could be the thing that brings you calm. Meditation apps are a welcome window into a world of gentle bells, chirping birds, and encouraging words. Beyond the peaceful imagery, the ceasing of the mind’s worry with meditation can have tremendous health benefits, easing anxiety, depression, and pain. So breathe a sigh of relief that we’re here to share with you a few of our favorite ways to get our om on.

Peter Gøtzsche: Why We’re Establishing an Institute for Scientific Freedom

Scientific freedom, honesty and integrity are constantly under attack, particularly in healthcare, which is dominated by the drug industry and other economic interests. As I have documented in my books and elsewhere, the result of this is that our prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer, and that the use of psychiatric drugs does more harm than good. Science journalist Robert Whitaker has shown that, in all countries where this relationship has been examined, the amount of people on disability pension because of mental health problems has increased at the same time as the use of psychiatric drugs has increased. Psychiatrist Peter Breggin has shown that likely all psychiatric drugs can cause long-lasting brain impairment, which may explain why the use of these drugs makes it difficult for people to live a normal life.

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for January 3, 2019

Study: 85% report feeling more happiness when spending money on this

It’s a question as old as time — does having more money really make you happier? In short — yes, but perhaps not for the reasons you may think. Dr. Elizabeth Dunn […] is spilling the beans on the truth between having money and being happy. One way that Dunn and Joy tracked the correlation was by analyzing people’s satisfaction and overall happiness when spending money across specific categories and vendors. The most common, though unsurprising, way of spending money that correlates to happiness? When people spend money on other people: “It can actually provide more happiness than spending on yourself … I’ve been arguing this for a while, we have a lot of studies showing it but this is something we’re seeing popping out in the data from Joy. It’s nice to see it independently confirmed from that data that when people are spending money on charitable giving, they rate it as being a really pleasurable experience.”

Psychology Explains Why You Won’t Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

About half of us apparently make New Year’s resolutions each year. These usually concern things such as weight loss, exercise, quitting smoking, excessive spending, working towards a qualification, or addressing problems that were causing problems in relationships. […] Unfortunately, it’s pretty likely that most of us will fail to stick to our resolutions — at least if failure is judged in an absolute sense. In one study, 78 percent of people failed to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. So why does this happen, and what can we do about it? […] Richard Wiseman (a professor of psychology who has studied New Year’s resolutions, and offered sound advice on how to stick to them), found the people who failed to stick to their resolutions tended to rely on willpower and suppressing their cravings, fantasized about how great it would be if they were able to be successful, and thought about the downside of failure. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to work.

Living with a Dog May Protect Your Child from Allergies

Research from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that the number of children affected by certain allergies increased by approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011 alone. If so then allergies are now affecting one out of every 13 children in the US […] some people believe that not keeping pets in the home might at least protect their kids from one additional source of allergic problems. Unfortunately the idea of isolating children from dogs or cats may actually prove to be counterproductive since there is mounting evidence that early exposure to pets can actually prove to be a strong measure to prevent later allergies in the child. […] The researchers believe that pets carry microbes that stimulate and ultimately strengthen the immune system so that the exposed children don’t become allergic, not only to their pets, but to a broad range of other airborne and food related allergens as well. Of course additional factors can contribute as well, such as spending time with other children and being outdoors in early life, but the surprising thing is that benefits from those aspects of lifestyle are not as well documented.

Depression, Anxiety Powerful Predictors of Poor Health

Anxiety and depression are as predictive of poor physical health as obesity and smoking are and, consequently, should be better addressed during routine visits to primary care providers, suggests a study published online in Health Psychology. “Anxiety and depression symptoms are strongly linked to poor physical health, yet these conditions continue to receive limited attention in primary care settings compared to smoking and obesity. To our knowledge, this is the first study that directly compared anxiety and depression to obesity and smoking as prospective risk factors for disease onset in long-term studies.” […] Using health data for 15,418 older adults over a 4-year period, researchers found participants with high levels of anxiety and depression (16% of the study population) had a 65% increased risk of a heart condition, 64% increased risk of stroke, 50% increased risk of high blood pressure, and 87% increased risk for arthritis, compared with participants without anxiety and depression.

Antidepressants May Increase Hip Fracture Risk in Older Adults

Older people who start on antidepressant medications are more than twice as likely to experience a hip fracture compared to peers who don’t use the drugs. […] up to a year after starting on an antidepressant, 3.5% in that group had a hip fracture compared to 1.3% in the other group. Interestingly, the highest odds of experiencing a hip fracture were 16 to 30 days before treatment with an antidepressant. […] “Even if antidepressant drug use does not increase the risk of hip fracture, the prescription of antidepressants to older people should be restrictive, as the evidence for positive effects is limited,” the study’s authors write. “Antidepressants are associated with adverse effects other than falls and fractures, including QT interval prolongation [irregular heartbeat], hyponatremia [low sodium levels in the blood], and gastrointestinal bleeding.”

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 January 2, 2019

Fed Panel Releases Draft Report on Pain Management

A federal advisory panel known as the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force has released a draft report listing its recommendations for improving pain care in the United States. The content is both revealing and promising, because its recognizes the complex nature of chronic pain and the difficulty in treating it effectively. […] The key findings of the task force are that pain management should be balanced, individualized, multidisciplinary and multi-modal. Pharmacological pain management requires careful screening and monitoring of patients to minimize risks, while non-pharmacological modalities, in particular physical therapy, also have a significant role to play. The needs of special populations such as children, women, older adults, and military personnel and veterans must also be recognized, according to the draft report.

How to not let winter get you down

Do you dread the winter months? Do you feel tired and depressed when the clocks go back and the nights start drawing in? […] See the light! Getting outdoors on a bright winter day may help relieve the symptoms of SAD and the winter blues. Try getting out of your home or office at some point during the day for around 20 minutes or longer. And if you can’t get outside, try sitting near a window whenever possible to soak up some natural light. […] Get active Physical activity is widely thought to be an effective way to boost your mood, and there’s a solid body of evidence that suggests exercise may help to alleviate depression. Exercising outdoors, especially when it’s sunny, may have an even stronger effect on SAD/winter blues symptoms. […] Pack your bags Most people take a holiday during the summer, but for anyone who suffers from SAD or the winter blues it might be worth going away in the winter instead. […] Eat mood-boosting foods Many experts believe what you eat can make a huge difference to your mood, especially during the winter, particularly foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan, which converts into serotonin in the brain. Foods rich in tryptophan include bananas, turkey, chicken, fish, cheese, eggs, milk, nuts, avocados and pulses.

Try Dry January: Taking a break from alcohol can improve sleep and weight

To get a head start, some are participating in Dry January, a month-long break from alcohol. But how effective is it? Researchers from the University of Sussex conducted a study, published in Health Psychology, to find out.  They examined more than 850 individuals who gave Dry January a try. […] After analyzing the results, they found that […] 72 percent of the subjects had maintained lower levels of harmful drinking and 4 percent were still not drinking after six months. After just one month, about 62 percent reported having better sleep, 62 percent said they had more energy and 49 percent experienced weight loss. […] The scientists believe their findings prove the challenge can be used to help reduce drinking long-term, added Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at Alcohol Concern, a U.K. charity to combat alcohol harm.

Science of a Meaningful Life: Top 10 Insights of 2018

Plenty of science convinces us that social connection is key to well-being. But relationships are complicated, bringing good and bad into our lives. This year’s top insights speak to the practical forces that unite us or divide us—both in intimate relationships and in our communities. […] 1. It takes 120 hours (or more) to make a good friend. This year, University of Kansas researcher Jeffrey A. Hall helped demystify the process of friendship-building in a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.  […] 2. You’re not as good at empathy as you think you are. Do you consider yourself to be pretty good at identifying what other people are feeling? Well, don’t be too confident, suggest four recent studies. […] 3. Mindfulness can help you manage your anger. How to handle anger better? Recent studies suggest mindfulness could help. […] 4. Sleeplessness breeds loneliness. It’s been long known that when you’re feeling lonely, you may not sleepas well. But the opposite appears to be true, too: Poor sleep leads to loneliness. […] 5. Smartphones can make in-person interactions less enjoyable […] 6. Teen emotions really are jumbled […] 7. We can’t assume that SEL programs meet the needs of all students […] 8. Americans are divided by identity, not issues […] 9. More egalitarian cultures are better for everyone […] 10. People may be kinder in racially diverse neighborhoods.

What Research Says About Sticking to New Year’s Resolutions

One 2014 poll, conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton, found that, while 77 percent of people adhered to their New Year’s resolutions within the first week, that figure dips to 46 percent after six months. […] A series of studies, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in 2016, found that 55 percent of resolutions related to health, while 20 percent involved paying off financial debts. […] The meta-analysis […] found that, when it comes to resolutions, not all rewards are made equal: “[I]mmediate rewards predicted persistence in a single session of studying and exercising whereas delayed rewards did not,” Fishbach and Woolley wrote. “Overall, whereas delayed rewards may motivate goal setting and the intentions to pursue long-term goals, a meta-analysis of our studies finds that immediate rewards are more strongly associated with actual persistence in a long-term goal.”

 

News 2018