June 13, 2018

Daily Breaking News & Information

News 2019


News & Information for November 21, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 11/20/19

This Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, the third in my new radio/TV format, is probably my best-ever talk about how to overcome emotional and psychological impediments to sanity and a good life. On my own without a guest, I explain the nature of psychological or emotional helplessness and how to over come it, and then take the conversation deeper into our worst fears and dreads and how to pull ourselves out in order to live the best possible life. I begin this spontaneous talk by catching you up on the latest in electrically-induced mind control—the exact opposite of how to live life—and then spend most of the hour delving as deeply as I can into what life is about, including what are the worst threats, and how to live it above and beyond them. 

Another new study suggests inflammation can cause depression

The meta-analysis discovered that 26 out of 30 studies showed the efficacy of NSAIDs, omega-3s, and others help combat mental health issues. […] As the gut microbiome is increasingly being implicated in mental health issues, we’ve had to reassess our understanding of mental health. We’re now well aware how an inflamed digestive system throws your mental and emotional state out of balance. In that light, perhaps it should be unsurprising that a new study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, has found that anti-inflammatory medication is seeing success in treating major depression.

Inflammation is the body’s response to a wide range of irritants and stress. When you cut yourself, the red region around the laceration is thanks to cytokines rushing in to defend the region, destroying bacteria before they spread. Yet it’s not only a cut that send cytokines flooding into a region. Inflammatory diets, such as those high in carbohydrates and sugars, can keep your body in a constant state of inflammation—and inflammation has been linked to depression, as well as immune functioning, sleep, impulse control, and overall mood. […] “The overall analysis of 30 RCTs [randomized controlled trials] suggested a significant antidepressant effect of anti-inflammatory agents in comparison with placebo for patients with MDD in various efficacy outcomes. A significantly larger reduction in depressive rating scales was found in the intervention group, with moderate heterogeneity among studies. Similarly, the response and remission rates were significantly higher for patients taking anti-inflammatory drugs with low heterogeneity.”

Dutch parliament may legalize euthanizing patients who aren’t sick or dying

The is reporting that the Liberal Democratic Party will be introducing legislation to extend euthanasia to people who are not sick or dying, but who state that their life is complete. The Dutchnews article quotes recent polling that suggests that 55% of those polled in the Netherlands supported euthanasia for people who are “tired of living” while 33% opposed the measure. The Dutchnews article explains that new legislation will be introduced next year. The Liberal democratic party is drawing up its own legislation which would make it possible for the over-75s who consider their life is at an end to be helped to die and aims to present the measure to parliament early next year. It is interesting that the Liberal Democratic Party is basing the “completed life” on age 75. What makes 75 a death age? Last month I reported that a Belgian politician is also planning to introduce legislation to expand euthanasia for reasons of the “completed life.” There is no definition for “completed life” which means this type of legislation is designed to abandon people with suicidal ideation to death lethal drugs.

New evidence that yoga can offers relief for people with depression

Dr. Chris Streeter, a psychiatrist at Boston University’s School of Medicine, said the new study she led builds on earlier work showing a correlation between yoga and levels of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), a chemical in the brain. Yoga seems to raise GABA levels, much as anti-depression and anti-anxiety drugs do, she explained. The effect was seen four days after performing yoga, but not eight days later, suggesting yoga should be done regularly to counter depression, Streeter said. “Once depressive symptoms improve, twice a week is probably better,” she said. […] The study was published in the November issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Practice. “What makes yoga different is a very specific mind component,” said Dr. Gregory Brown, psychiatrist, yoga instructor and founder of the Center for Green Psychiatry in West Lake Hills, Texas.

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

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

News & Information for November 20, 2019

Lower risk of depression with 35 minutes of exercise per day

35 minutes a day of physical activity may protect against new episodes, even in the genetically vulnerable. […] In a paper published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, the team reported that individuals who engaged in at least several hours of exercise each week were less likely to be diagnosed with a new episode of depression, even in the face of high genetic risk for the disorder. […] “Our findings strongly suggest that, when it comes to depression, genes are not destiny and that being physically active has the potential to neutralize the added risk of future episodes in individuals who are genetically vulnerable,” said Karmel Choi of MGH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the lead author of the study. “On average, about 35 additional minutes of physical activity each day may help people to reduce their risk and protect against future depression episodes.”

Back in June the same journal published a study finding exercise protected against anxiety-related disorders. Concluding: “Evidence supports the notion that self‐reported physical activity can confer protection against the emergence of anxiety regardless of demographic factors. In particular, higher physical activity levels protects from agoraphobia and posttraumatic disorder.”

Children are being locked away, alone and terrified, in schools across Illinois

The spaces have gentle names: The reflection room. The cool-down room. The calming room. The quiet room. But shut inside them, in public schools across the state, children as young as 5 wail for their parents, scream in anger and beg to be let out. The students, most of them with disabilities, scratch the windows or tear at the padded walls. They throw their bodies against locked doors. They wet their pants. Some children spend hours inside these rooms, missing class time. Through it all, adults stay outside the door, writing down what happens. In Illinois, it’s legal for school employees to seclude students in a separate space — to put them in “isolated timeout” — if the students pose a safety threat to themselves or others. Yet every school day, workers isolate children for reasons that violate the law, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois has found. […] “Having a law that allows schools to do something that is so traumatic and dangerous to students without having some sort of meaningful oversight and monitoring is really, really troubling,” said Zena Naiditch, founder and leader of Equip for Equality, a disabilities watchdog group that helped write Illinois’ rules in 1999.

New Study Shows Impact of Technology on Relationships

It’s no surprise that technology can have a negative impact on relationships. But David Schramm, Utah State University assistant professor and Extension family life specialist, is particularly interested in how technology interferes with two of the most important spaces for interaction and connection – in the bed and at the table. Schramm, also known as USU relationship specialist “Dr. Dave,” said it is inevitable that technology will creep into nearly every aspect of our lives. Because of this, he is on a mission to safeguard these two important areas that must be consciously protected to help strengthen couple and parent-child relationships. He believes these places should be considered off limits when it comes to technology use.

MSU study: Internet-based program used reduces depression symptoms

A program delivered entirely online that aims to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms has shown promising results in a new Montana State University study. The findings by MSU researcher Mark Schure suggest that an internet-based interactive platform known as Thrive was effective in reducing the severity of depression and anxiety symptoms and improving functioning and resilience among a mostly rural community population of U.S. adults. The findings were published Nov. 18 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. “This research is the first known of its kind to rigorously evaluate the impact of an internet-based cognitive behavior therapy program to help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms among a U.S. general rural population of adults,” said Schure, assistant professor in the College of Education, Health and Human Development’s Department of Health and Human Department. “We’re hopeful that these results indicate the usefulness of these types of internet-based programs to effectively teach individuals positive skills to manage their depression and anxiety, which could be especially valuable in rural areas where mental health care services can be hard to access.”

Ireland: ‘Significant’ increase in the number of young people with anxiety

My World Survey 2 (MWS-2) is the largest ever study of the mental health of Ireland’s youth. The survey […] consulted with more than 19,000 young people across Ireland to build and improve on collective knowledge in the area of youth mental health. The study found that the number of adolescents, aged 12 to 19, reporting severe anxiety has doubled from 11 per cent (from MWS-1) to 22% per cent (MWS-2) . Meanwhile, levels of reported severe anxiety in young adults, aged 18 to 25, has seen an increase of 11 per cent, from 15 per cent in MWS-1 to 26 per cent in MWS-2. The study notes that while there has been an increase in many risk factors, there has also been an increase in protective factors – most notably in family support or support from a significant adult. […] “The increased levels of anxiety and depression, the decreased levels of self-esteem, optimism and life-satisfaction and growing trends of self-harm are of particular concern.”

Canada: 1 in 5 Quebec university students need treatment for depression

MONTREAL — A wide-ranging survey completed by roughly 24,000 Quebec university students revealed a high percentage of respondents said they suffered from some kind of mental health problem. Fifty-eight per cent of respondents received a score indicating they had a high level of psychological distress, according to the survey prepared by the Quebec Student Union, a federation of student unions at various universities. One university student of out five indicated they had signs of depression that needed medical attention. Additionally, survey respondents were three times more likely than the general population to say they had suicidal thoughts and twice as likely to say they had tried to kill themselves.

For millennial caregivers, being the ‘parent for a parent’ with Alzheimer’s is challenging

Resendez said that’s common among caregivers, particularly those who have to start taking care of their own parents at a young age. “There’s a role reversal there that causes emotional distress. You’re filling in the role of a parent, for a parent,” he said. Nearly 80% of millennial dementia caregivers in the UsAgainstAlzheimer’s report say their role is emotionally taxing — and that they want more help dealing with that. But there are relatively few resources designed with young caregivers and their needs in mind. “There are very, very few resources tailored to younger caregivers,” Resendez said. And even those resources that are designed for young people aren’t always helpful. At one point, Moore-Hollis went to a support group for young caregivers in the Boston area, recommended to her by the Alzheimer’s Association.

The gut microbiome in psychiatry: A primer for clinicians

Research in the past decade has shown that variations in the gut microbiome may influence behavior, and vice versa. As such, interest in the role of the gut microbiome in psychiatric conditions has drawn immense interest. This is evidenced by the recent surge in published studies examining microbial dysbiosis in clinical psychiatric populations, particularly autism spectrum disorder and depression. However, critical examination of these studies reveals methodological flaws in design and execution, suggesting that they may not be held to the same standards as other bodies of clinical research. Given the complex nature of the gut microbiome, this narrative review attempts to clarify concepts critical to effectively examine its potential role in psychopathology to appropriately inform mental health researchers. More specifically, the numerous variables known to affect the gut microbiome are discussed, including inflammation, diet, weight, and medications. A comprehensive review of the extant microbiome literature in clinical psychiatric populations is also provided, in addition to clinical implications and suggestions for future directions of research. Although there is a clear need for additional studies to elucidate the gut microbiome’s role in psychiatric disorders, there is an even greater need for well‐designed, appropriately controlled studies to truly impact the field.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for November 19, 2019

Increased antidepressant use does not decrease depression prevalence in older adults

Antidepressant use has more than doubled in older adults since 1990, according to a new study in The British Journal of Psychiatry. However, the increase in the use of the drugs has not resulted in any decrease in depression, the prevalence of which stayed the same over that time. Those in care homes fared the worst: although again, the prevalence of depression stayed the same, their antidepressant use increased fourfold, from 7.4% in 1990 to 29.2% in 2011. The authors write: “Over two decades, substantial increases in access to antidepressant medication do not appear to be associated with change in prevalence of late-life depression. The natural history of treated and untreated depression, particularly for older people, remains poorly understood.”

New scientific study reveals the ‘Recommended Daily Allowance’ for music 

Our bodies need a balanced diet of nutrients to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Now a new scientific study has found the ‘Recommended Daily Allowance’ for music. Global music streaming service Deezer commissioned scientists at the British Academy of Sound Therapy to find the dose of music needed by a healthy body and mind. This data has been used to create the musical “RDA”. The global study of over 7,500 people, looked at the relationship between music and our mental and physical well-being – by studying various factors including styles, mood and genre. The experiment concluded that, whatever your preferred choice of music, in order to feel the emotional benefits of different music styles you need to listen, on average to:

  • 14 minutes of uplifting music (user’s choice) to feel happy (18% of your musical RDA)
  • 16 minutes of calming music (user’s choice) to feel relaxed (20.5% of your music RDA)
  • 16 minutes of music (user’s choice) to overcome sadness (20.5% of your music RDA)
  • 15 minutes of motivating music (user’s choice) to aid concentration (19% of your music RDA)
  • 17 minutes of music (user’s choice) to help manage anger (22% of your music RDA)

The study analyzed how people use music to process emotions. Relaxation was the most common emotional benefit (90%), followed by happiness (82%) as well as overcoming sadness (47%). A further third (32%) of participants used music to help them concentrate, while over a quarter (28%) deal with anger through their tunes.

Any amount of running linked to significantly lower risk of early death

Any amount of running is linked to a significantly lower risk of death from any cause, finds a pooled analysis of the available evidence, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. If more people took up running — and they wouldn’t have to run far or fast — there would likely be substantial improvements in population health and longevity, conclude the researchers. It’s not clear how good running is for staving off the risk of death from any cause and particularly from cardiovascular disease and cancer, say the researchers. Nor is it clear how much running a person needs to do to reap these potential benefits, nor whether upping the frequency, duration, and pace — in other words, increasing the ‘dose’ — might be even more advantageous.

Tragic trans boys who want to be girls again are ignored

THE experiences of a growing number of young women who were encouraged to ‘transition’ to male and now bitterly regret doing so have put the issue of so-called gender freedom under a worrying new spotlight. In a Telegraph article, Joani Walsh has lifted the lid on what is really going on in the trans world. She tells how young women are complaining that their underlying psychological issues were not addressed in the rush to get them to take puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones, and have drastic surgeries. It led to some undergoing double mastectomies, hysterectomies and the removal of their ovaries. Then, when these ‘treatments’ did not cure the ‘disease’ of being female, they were ignored. […] the mass media’s uncritical treatment of the whole ‘trans’ phenomenon, which focuses on sensationalising the ‘fact’ that men can change into women and vice-versa without showing any of the downsides. The outcome of this approach can be seen across Western society, in an upsurge of adolescent girls identifying as boys. In the past decade in the UK, there has been a ‘4,400 per cent increase in girls being referred for transitioning treatment’.

Hearing aids may reduce risk of falls, depression and dementia, study says

Hearing aids could reduce the risk of 3 common health problems – falls, dementia, and depression. A study from the University of Michigan found lower rates of all three among people who got hearing aids within three years of being diagnosed with hearing loss. Past studies have linked hearing loss to memory problems. Study leaders urged health insurance companies to boost coverage for the devices, to reduce costs from the other problems. Only one in eight with hearing loss get hearing aids, even when they have insurance coverage for at least part of the cost.

Pam Popper: Cancer Cells Mutate

Mayo Report: What are the benefits of friendships?

Friendships can have a major impact on your health and well-being, but it’s not always easy to build or maintain friendships. Understand the importance of friendships in your life and what you can do to develop and nurture friendships. Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
  • Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise  

Friends also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for November 18, 2019

Taking dementia patients off antipsychotics yields success for researchers

Providers were able to significantly reduce and stop antipsychotic use in dementia patients by taking advantage of a different approach, officials announced. The study was conducted with dementia patients in long-term care facilities in the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. Findings were announced Wednesday by government officials. Researchers were able to successfully reduce antipsychotic use for 28% of patients in Prince Edward Island, while 25% stopped taking the medications. For patients in Newfoundland and Labrador, 22% had their doses reduced, while 30% had their medications discontinued. The patients had no change in aggressive verbal or physical behaviors after the switch was made, researchers said. 

Flint’s children suffer in class after years of lead-poisoned water

The percentage of the city’s students who qualify for special education services has nearly doubled, to 28 percent, from 15 percent the year the lead crisis began, and the city’s screening center has received more than 1,300 referrals since December 2018. The results: About 70 percent of the students evaluated have required school accommodations for issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as A.D.H.D.; dyslexia; or mild intellectual impairment, said Katherine Burrell, the associate director of the center. . . . [A] class-action lawsuit, filed in 2016, accused the city, the county and the Michigan Department of Education of ignoring dismal outcomes that have worsened after Flint’s children were exposed to lead.

Inappropriate use of antipsychotics on adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Recent data, published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, finds that a large proportion of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are prescribed antipsychotic drugs. Researchers found this to be the case for both those who have been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and those without any documented diagnosis. “These findings suggest that future attention to the appropriateness of antipsychotic prescribing for adults with IDD in Ontario is warranted,” the authors write. A greater awareness and acknowledgment of the inappropriate use of antipsychotics to manage behavioral and psychological symptoms in children, youth, and older adults has led to a number of policies attempting to educate providers and protect vulnerable populations, particularly older adults with dementia symptoms.

Is the latest Alzheimer’s drug for real? Is three a crowd in CAR-T? And what’s a Bionomy? We discuss all that and more on the latest episode of “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, medicinal chemist Derek Lowe joins us to discuss China’s surprising decision to approve a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease — and why the resulting hope quickly turned to skepticism among experts. Then, we preview an all-important FDA meeting about Amarin (AMRN) and it’s fish-oil-derived cardiovascular drug. Later, we talk about how Celgene (CELG) might find itself on the outside looking in when it comes to CAR-T cancer therapy. Finally, in honor of STAT’s fourth birthday, executive editor Rick Berke joins us to discuss the publication’s origins and where it’s headed.

CDC report: 35,000 Americans die of antibiotic-resistant infections each year

An estimated 35,000 Americans die of antibiotic-resistant infections each year — one every 15 minutes — according to a stark new report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention that reveals that the problem is substantially greater than previously estimated. The new report, the first update of a landmark 2013 publication that estimated the scope of drug resistance in the United States, used better data sources to recalculate the estimates in the earlier version. The upshot: Deaths from drug-resistant infections in 2013 were nearly double what the CDC estimated them to be at the time. Instead of 23,000 deaths, the 2013 toll is now estimated to have been 44,000.

Teenagers abusing ADHD medication

As a psychotherapist, who specializes in treating teenagers, I often hear parents concerns about their teenager using marijuana or alcohol. […] Also many teenagers like the effect that they receive from methamphetamines. They get an adrenal rush and can stay up for days at times. […] Many teenagers do not want to run the risk of being caught with or buying methamphetamines. Therefore, teenagers have found away around the risk, medications for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Most medications for ADHD such as Ritalin or Concerta are stimulant based. In other words, they contain a form of methamphetamine. Therefore, if a high school student who does not have ADHD takes Concerta, they experience the same effect as if they took methamphetamine such as cocaine. They get a burst of energy and can stay up all night so they can finish their work.

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

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

News & Information for November 16-17, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Nov 13, 2019


My friend and marvelous psychologist Michael Cornwall PhD is my guest on this, my second live radio show that is also filmed as a TV show for presentation as a video on my YouTube channel. Our lively conversation ranges over topics from the effect of emotional trauma on children to the FDA’s approval of Monarch, a method of electrically stimulating (really disrupting) the brains of children labelled ADHD, as well as any other children with almost any diagnosis that the doctor imagines it will help. I also return to an ongoing topic of genuine attempts at even more subtle forms of mind control than putting electrodes on the foreheads of sleeping children. Billions of dollars are behind developing computer-brain electrode-to-flesh connections both for “treating mental illness” and for making super-people. This is not conspiracy theory, this is not fantasy, this stuff is in fact being highly promoted. Find out more on And remember, this is now my weekly radio/TV show.

Listen in @, Today @ 4 PM, NY Time

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

Or listen to the radio archive @

Or the TV archive @

Scientists say nature therapy doesn’t just feel good —it saves trillions in health costs

Researchers at Griffith University in Australia suggest that national parks and protected areas save an approximate $6 trillion globally in mental health care costs. Lead study author Ralf Buckley said while that is a “conservative” estimate, it’s still “10 times greater than the global value of park tourism and 100 times greater than the global value of park agency budgets.” […] “The gap between the natural setting, for which our physiological functions are adapted, and the highly urbanized and artificial setting that we inhabit is a contributing cause of the ‘stress state’ in modern people,” the 2016 Chiba University study said. In the future, the researchers added, long-term data over days, weeks, and months will be needed to clarify nature’s impact on humans’ physiology. “Considering the significance of quality of life in our modern stressful society, the importance of nature therapy will further increase. The therapeutic effects of natural stimulation suggest a simple, accessible, and cost-effective method to improve the quality of life and health of modern people,” the study continued.

Lavender promising for anxiety but evidence base needs to grow

Lavender may have a role in treating anxiety but no firm conclusions can be drawn without higher quality, less biased studies, a large systematic review and meta-analysis suggests. “Oral lavender in the form of a standardized essential oil titrated in linalool and linalyl acetate may be helpful as an add-on therapy, or in reducing the dosages, and, therefore, the side effects of common anxiety drugs like benzodiazepines,” study investigator Davide Donelli, MD, Careggi University Hospital, Florence, Italy, told Medscape Medical News.

Antidepressants in our waters really are affecting fish in a strange way, study shows

Immersed in a ‘drug soup’ of pharmaceutical pollutants, aquatic wildlife acts in ways that puts them at risk of becoming an easily meal for predators. A new study now suggests it could also affect how they themselves hunt for food. When researchers looked at the way eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) foraged in groups, they found antidepressants in our waste play havoc with the animals’ social interactions in ways we’d never noticed in studies of individual fish. The new research conducted by scientists from Monash University in Australia highlights a potential flaw in previous studies that determine the impact of psychoactive waste on wildlife. “The results are significant because they suggest that behavioural tests in social isolation may not accurately predict the environmental risk of chemical pollutants for group-living species,” says biologist Jake Martin.

Lifespan: why we age and why we don’t have to


David Sinclair is a Harvard scientist whose career has been researching the aging process. Why do we get older, and could we modify that seemingly inevitable outcome? Sinclair presents some compelling answers to those questions. He argues that we know what causes aging: loss of epigenetic information, which causes cells to ‘forget’ what they are supposed to do. So for example, as we age nerve cells can ‘lose their way’ and become slightly skin cells and thereby dysfunctional because the information that instructs them as to what they are supposed to be has been progressively lost over time. Testing that hypothesis, Sinclair and others have found that if you remove epigenetic information from young mice, they age rapidly, becoming indistinguishable from old mice. And as Sinclair argues, what you can give, you can surely take away. So if we can give aging, we may be able to take it away too. ~ Ian

An adaptation for altruism: the social causes, social effects, and social evolution of gratitude

People feel grateful when they have benefited from someone’s costly, intentional, voluntary effort on their behalf. Experiencing gratitude motivates beneficiaries to repay their benefactors and to extend generosity to third parties. Expressions of gratitude also reinforce benefactors for their generosity. These social features distinguish gratitude from related emotions such as happiness and feelings of indebtedness. Evolutionary theories propose that gratitude is an adaptation for reciprocal altruism (the sequential exchange of costly benefits between nonrelatives) and, perhaps, upstream reciprocity (a pay-it-forward style distribution of an unearned benefit to a third party after one has received a benefit from another benefactor). Gratitude therefore may have played a unique role in human social evolution.

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for November 15, 2019

The Outrage Machine: How social media fuels outrage 

Are you trapped in an online echo chamber? Society is becoming ever more divided as we seek out information that reinforces our views – but how do we avoid ending up dogmatic and entrenched? Renowned social psychologist Jonathan Haidt shares a shocking personal example of confirmation bias on social media, and shows just how vital it is for us to open up and absorb ideas from across the political spectrum.

Screen-based media use may impair brain development of preschool-aged children

Importance: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limits on screen-based media use, citing its cognitive-behavioral risks. Screen use by young children is prevalent and increasing, although its implications for brain development are unknown. Objective: To explore the associations between screen-based media use and integrity of brain white matter tracts supporting language and literacy skills in preschool-aged children. […] Conclusions and Relevance:  This study found an association between increased screen-based media use, compared with the AAP guidelines, and lower microstructural integrity of brain white matter tracts supporting language and emergent literacy skills in prekindergarten children. The findings suggest further study is needed, particularly during the rapid early stages of brain development.

Forest bathing heals with the benefits of nature, and it’s free

Have you done your forest bathing today? You’re probably thinking, what the heck is forest bathing? Despite its name, it doesn’t involve taking a dunk in any water. It’s actually the loose translation for the Japanese term, Shinrin-yoku, which refers to the practice of immersing yourself in nature for better mental and physical health. […] “Nature is a very big part of who we are innately,” said Grillo, who has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and has spent more than 16 years in the green industry working for plant nurseries. “My goal is to give people some ideas of things they can do on their own.”

Telepsychiatry helps reduce overprescribing of antipsychotics

An Encounter Telehealth analysis of 40 rural skilled nursing facility partners in Iowa revealed a 6.7% reduction in the use of antipsychotics following 14 months of psychiatric telehealth services. Some of the facilities made substantial reductions, including one that went from 28.6% of its residents on antipsychotics in 2015 to a low of 7.3% in 2018. Encounter offers talk therapy, which has been proven beneficial to patients with dementia and cognitive decline. The company also trains staff on the use of alternative, non-pharmacological interventions. […] “Telehealth not only brings specialty care directly to communities that previously had none and reduces facility expenses but, ultimately, it also  improves the quality of life for residents and staff alike,” she explained.

How Health PEI is weaning dementia patients off antipsychotics

A new study aimed at getting dementia patients in long-term care off antipsychotic medications has had impressive results, says Health PEI. The study was done in conjunction with the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and the Newfoundland and Labrador government. It identified patients who did not have a diagnosis of psychosis but were prescribed antipsychotic medications, and who could be good candidates for coming off those medications. “Antipsychotics have often been prescribed for individuals who may have agitated behaviour or sometimes aggression,” said foundation CEO Jennifer Zelmer. “But there’s really not a lot of evidence to support their effectiveness for people who don’t have a diagnosis of psychosis, and there are significant side effects. So that’s why a medication review can be really helpful.” […] The medication reduction was combined with offerings of individually-tailored activities, such as exercise and pet or music therapy.

See also: P.E.I. working to move dementia patients off antipsychotic medication

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 November 14, 2019

Seniors with Alzheimer’s who take antipsychotics hospitalized more frequently

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease who are prescribed antipsychotics spend more days hospitalized than those not taking antipsychotics, according to recent findings. Study subjects who took antipsychotics accumulated 53% more hospital days than patients not prescribed antipsychotics. They averaged 52 days in the hospital compared with 35 days for those who were not prescribed the drugs. Patients in the antipsychotic treatment group were hospitalized under diagnosis codes for conditions including dementia, mental and behavioral disorders, and circulatory, respiratory, or genitourinary diseases. The results may point to difficulties in treating the most severe behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and the health problems that trigger them, wrote Marjaana Koponen, Ph.D.

GPs must stop putting people into diagnostic boxes and pause before prescribing antidepressants

In everyday practice, a structured approach is necessary to ensure that GPs are prescribing safely and effectively, in accordance with current, evidence based best practice, and to ensure that patients are told about the pros and cons of starting antidepressant therapy. Indeed, clinicians have an ethical duty to educate patients, so they are able to make a fully informed choice about this important therapeutic intervention. […] In a recent survey people taking antidepressants, 55% of those who attempted to stop their medication experienced withdrawal effects, and 27% became addicted to the medication. Only one per cent of participants recalled being told about withdrawal effects when prescribed the drugs. Further complexities arise when you consider the uncertainty surrounding how antidepressant therapy actually produces beneficial effects. Meta-analyses of published and unpublished data show no statistically significant difference for the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), over placebo for mild to moderate depression, and only slight differences for severe depression.


News & Information for November 13, 2019

The First Dr. Peter Breggin Hour on TV

Starting with this show, The Dr. Peter Breggin Radio/TV Hour goes live with radio every Wednesday, followed by the filmed TV version a few days later on my YouTube Channel. Yes, it’s now a radio/TV show, thanks to new technology at Progressive Radio Network. On this first radio/TV show, I am Joined by nutritionist Pam Popper PhD and psychiatrist and Pinar Miski, MD for a Peter, Pam and Pinar special. It will be a regular feature the first Wednesday of every month. This is the radio version of the fun, interesting and informative first presentation. It’s the inaugural radio/TV show, so please forgive a few glitches along the way.

Listen in @, Today @ 4 PM, NY Time, the guest will be Michael Cornwall.

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

Or listen to the archives @

Antidepressants polluting the water can change fish behaviour

The new findings are published today in Biology Letters and coincide with a recent gathering of world experts to discuss the impacts of pharmaceutical waste on wildlife and how government agencies can draw on behavioural studies to monitor and regulate chemical pollutants in the environment. Psychoactive pollutants such as antidepressants, are increasingly detected in the environment and have long been shown to disrupt the behaviour of non-target species. “However, few studies have considered how the response of exposed organisms might be mediated by social context,” said lead study author Dr Jake Martin from the Monash University School of Biological Sciences. “Our research found that the antidepressant pollutant, fluoxetine (commonly marketed as Prozac™), did not alter behaviour of solitary fish but in a group setting, fluoxetine exposure disrupted the frequency of aggressive interactions and food consumption,” he said. “The results are significant because they suggest that behavioural tests in social isolation may not accurately predict the environmental risk of chemical pollutants for group-living species and highlight the potential for social context to mediate the effects of psychoactive pollutants in exposed wildlife.”

Reason to smile: happiness is the most dominant human expression, study finds

Smile, and the whole world smiles with you. A new Ohio State University study has determined that of the thousands of possibilities, there are but 35 universally accepted facial expressions. Yet perhaps most remarkable is that roughly half of these, 17 to be exact, are expressions of happiness. Unless we are actors, most of us are probably unaware of the myriad ways our faces can be reconfigured to express emotions, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. It turns out, however, humans are meant to smile much more often than they grimace, scowl, frown or wince. “This was delightful to discover,” says study coauthor Aleix Martinez, a cognitive scientist and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university, “because it speaks to the complex nature of happiness.” […] “We were shocked,” Martinez said. “I thought there would be way, way more. […] Happiness acts as a social glue and needs the complexity of different facial expressions,” explains Martinez. “Disgust is just that: disgust.”

Adolescent marijuana use may alter decision-making & self-control areas of the brain

As marijuana continues to be decriminalized across the United States, the dangers of children obtaining and using the drug are also coming into light. Now, a recent study shows how adolescent cannabis use could change the way neurons function in certain areas of teens’ brains, specifically the regions behind decision-making, planning, and self-control. […] “Our evidence suggests that exposure to cannabinoids during adolescence alters brain maturation in the prefrontal cortex,” says study leader Eliza Jacobs-Brichford in a university release. “These results may offer a mechanistic explanation for functional and behavioral changes caused by adolescent cannabinoid exposure.” […] The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in 2018.

Study: fish oil supplements have little to no effect on anxiety, depression

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in various nuts, seeds, and oily fish such as salmon, are undeniably good for you. Medical research has found this essential fat to be beneficial to eye, skin, and brain health, among other perks. Besides these physical benefits, omega-3s have also been touted as a mental health aid capable of alleviating and even completely preventing symptoms of anxiety and depression. A new study warns, however, that consuming fish oil supplements may not be so helpful when it comes to mental health after all. […] “This large systematic review included information from many thousands of people over long periods. Despite all this information, we don’t see protective effects,” comments lead author Dr. Lee Hooper in a release. “The most trustworthy studies consistently showed little or no effect of long-chain omega-3 fats on depression or anxiety, and they should not be encouraged as a treatment.”

National parks a boost to mental health worth trillions: study

National parks worldwide are worth about $8.7 trillion ($US6 trillion) a year in the improved mental health of their visitors, according to initial estimates published by a team of Griffith University researchers. Griffith ecologists, psychologists and economists led the peer-reviewed Perspective ‘Economic value of protected areas via visitor mental health’, which has been published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications. […] Using a concept called quality-adjusted life years, which measured a person’s ability to carry out the activities of daily life free from pain and mental disturbance, the researchers estimated the economic value of national parks  […] “The article suggests several ways to calculate health services value, and these numbers are from just one of those methods – now we need to extend that research to other methods and other countries,” Professor Buckley said. “Protected areas are there for conservation, which gives us a liveable planet and underpins our entire economy, but conservation is not very powerful politically. People and politicians pay more attention to health, because it affects them personally.”

This result is based in part on research we posted here in June that quantified the minimum dose of nature needed to impart of life-changing (as opposed to short-term) improvement in mental health to be two hours per week.  

Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect

What are child abuse and neglect?

These important public health problems include all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role (such as clergy, a coach, a teacher) that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. There are four common types of abuse and neglect:

  • Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force that can result in physical Examples include hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other shows of force against a child.
  • Sexual abuse involves pressuring or forcing a child to engage in sexual acts. It includes behaviors such as fondling, penetration, and exposing a child to other sexual activities.
  • Emotional abuse refers to behaviors that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being. Examples include name calling, shaming, rejection, withholding love, and threatening.
  • Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. These needs include housing, food, clothing, education, and access to medical care.

Child abuse and neglect result from the interaction of a number of individual, family, societal, and environmental factors. Child abuse and neglect are not inevitable—safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments are key for prevention. Preventing child abuse and neglect can also prevent other forms of violence, as various types of violence are interrelated and share many risk and protective factors, consequences, and effective prevention tactics. Using a public health approach, we can prevent child maltreatment before it starts. For more information about preventing child abuse & neglect definitions please see Child Maltreatment Surveillance: Uniform Definitions for Public Health and Recommended Data Elements pdf icon[4.12 MB, 148 Pages, 508].

Real-life telepathy proposed with “stentrode” brain implants!

Quietly over the past few months, the technology has started falling into place to allow people to communicate without words by transmitting their thoughts to each other via tiny, modem-like devices plugged into their brains. That’s right. Computer-aided telepathy. And it could become big business in the not-so-distant future. In April, a team of scientists from the University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon University published in the journal Nature a paper detailing an ambitious experiment they’d recently conducted. Three people worked together to play a crude version of the video game Tetris. Two of the research subjects could see the whole game screen–the falling blocks, the gaps in the stack of blocks at the bottom of the screen. Using only their thoughts, they beamed commands to a third person, whose own screen didn’t show the stack that the falling block needed to fit into. Sensing the commands from other two players, the third player rotated the block to fit.

An example of who we might, in the not-too distant future, be prodded to accept brain implants. 

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 November 12, 2019

Click through to see that thread. The study reviewed can be viewed online w/o needing to download it here

Meta: The Dark Psychology of Social Networks

Suppose that the biblical story of Creation were true: God created the universe in six days, including all the laws of physics and all the physical constants that apply throughout the universe. Now imagine that one day, in the early 21st century, God became bored and, just for fun, doubled the gravitational constant. What would it be like to live through such a change? We’d all be pulled toward the floor; many buildings would collapse; birds would fall from the sky; the Earth would move closer to the sun, reestablishing orbit in a far hotter zone. Let’s rerun this thought experiment in the social and political world, rather than the physical one. […] what would happen to American democracy if, one day in the early 21st century, a technology appeared that—over the course of a decade—changed several fundamental parameters of social and political life? What if this technology greatly increased the amount of “mutual animosity” and the speed at which outrage spread? Might we witness the political equivalent of buildings collapsing, birds falling from the sky, and the Earth moving closer to the sun?

Inaccurate group meta-perceptions drive negative out-group attributions in competitive contexts

Across seven experiments and one survey (n = 4,282), people consistently overestimated out-group negativity towards the collective behaviour of their in-group. This negativity bias in group meta-perception was present across multiple competitive (but not cooperative) intergroup contexts and appears to be yoked to group psychology more generally; we observed negativity bias for estimation of out-group, anonymized-group and even fellow in-group members’ perceptions. Importantly, in the context of US politics, greater inaccuracy was associated with increased belief that the out-group is motivated by purposeful obstructionism. However, an intervention that informed participants of the inaccuracy of their beliefs reduced negative out-group attributions, and was more effective for those whose group meta-perceptions were more inaccurate. In sum, we highlight a pernicious bias in social judgements of how we believe ‘they’ see ‘our’ behaviour, demonstrate how such inaccurate beliefs can exacerbate intergroup conflict and provide an avenue for reducing the negative effects of inaccuracy.

Levels of Prozac polluting aquatic ecosystems disrupt behaviors of zebrafish 

Fluoxetine (FLX) is one of the main antidepressants used worldwide. After human use, FLX enters the aquatic ecosystems, where it has commonly detected in the high ng/L concentration range. Several investigations have shown that exposure to different concentrations of FLX caused different adverse effects towards a number of aquatic species. However, the information on the onset and the relationship between molecular and behavioral FLX-induced effects remains scant. The aim of this study was to assess the effects induced by two FLX concentrations, namely 50 ng/L and 500 ng/L, on swimming activity of zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae at 96-h post-fertilization (hpf) and to investigate if such behavioral effects […] Fluoxetine exposure altered the swimming behavior of larvae, as shown by the reduction of the distance traveled by treated larvae in response to an external stimulus. 

In utero exposure to antidepressants, neonatal and child outcomes: a systematic review.

The aim of this study is to systematically review published studies, reporting outcomes to offspring following in utero exposure to antidepressant medications […] Antidepressant exposure was associated with an increased risk of lower gestational age, preterm birth, but not low birth weight or being small for gestational age compared to untreated depression. There is some evidence that congenital defects are associated with antidepressant use, particularly between cardiac defects and paroxetine use. There is conflicting evidence regarding neurodevelopment in offspring, with some reports of increased incidence of autistic spectrum disorders and depression, but also reports of no problems when measuring emotional symptoms, peer problems, conduct problems, and hyperactivity-inattention scores. […] CONCLUSION: When compared with an untreated depressed group, antidepressant exposure was associated with adverse outcomes at birth, while there is insufficient data to determine whether the association between antidepressants and congenital defects or developmental disorders is a true association. However although we compared treated versus untreated depression there still may be residual confounding as an untreated depressed group is likely to have less severe depression.

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 November 11, 2019

Screening + drug treatment = increase in veteran suicides

The alarm over suicides of military veterans has been regularly sounded over the past 15 years, prompting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to declare that “preventing suicide among Veterans is the VA’s top clinical priority.” The VA’s 2019 report on suicide provides reason to sound the alarm again, for it tells of a suicide rate that has continued to climb, particularly for younger veterans who have served since 9/11. Indeed, a close review of VA data provides reason to conclude that the rise in suicide is being driven, at least in part, by the VA’s suicide prevention efforts. Its screening protocols have ushered an ever greater number of veterans into psychiatric care, where treatment with antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs is regularly prescribed. Suicide rates have increased in lockstep with the increased exposure among veterans to such medications.

 Study: Tobacco smokers may be at a higher risk of depression and schizophrenia

A team of researchers led by scientists from the University of Bristol in the UK has added weight to growing evidence that smoking can have a negative effect on mental health. Rather than simply looking at whether the smokers had a genetic predisposition to depression or schizophrenia, the researchers used genetic data to examine cause-and-effect relationships with smoking, “Individuals with mental illness are often overlooked in our efforts to reduce smoking prevalence, leading to health inequalities,” the study‘s lead author, Robyn Wootton, said in a statement. “Our work shows that we should be making every effort to prevent smoking initiation and encourage smoking cessation because of the consequences to mental health as well as physical health.”

UK: Why are so many children being prescribed antidepressants in the North West?

A Freedom of Information Request I submitted revealed in the North West alone there were 76,960 prescriptions for antidepressants issued to under 18’s for the year ending April 2019. That’s a rise of 13.8% over the past three years. And some of those prescriptions were for children as young as five. These are the facts. They shocked me.

  • One in eight children and young people have a diagnosable mental health condition.
  • Referrals to CAMHS have increased by 45% in the past two years and A&E attendances by young people with mental health problems have almost tripled in the past decade.
  • One in four 11-16 year olds with a mental health condition have self-harmed or been suicidal.
  • Suicide remains the leading cause of death for both males and females aged 5-19.

How does temperature affect mental health?

According to a recent study, there is an association between hotter temperatures and an increase both in the number of hospital visits for mental health reasons and in suicide rates. […] Unpicking the vast array of potential risk factors that can link to suicide is challenging work. However, because suicide rates in the U.S. have steadily increased from 2001 to 2017, understanding these factors is more pressing than ever. […] Earlier studies have identified links between temperature and mental health, but, to date, much of this research has focused on relatively short periods and only looked for associations rather than causal factors. Also, the findings have been contradictory, and not all studies have reached the same conclusions. The researchers behind the current study hope to address some of the earlier shortfalls and produce a definitive answer. They have attempted this by collecting and analyzing vast amounts of information.

Strong link found between level of depression and heart disease, stroke

The severity of a person’s depression may increase their odds of having heart disease or stroke, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 — November 16-18 in Philadelphia. The Association’s Scientific Sessions is an annual, premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians. “Cardiovascular diseases are impacted by and related to a variety of aspects of health and well-being including mental health,” said study author Yosef M. Khan […] “We found that the level of depression was strongly tied to living with heart disease and stroke, even after accounting for other factors that could impact risk, including the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 and variables of age, income, education, sex and race/ethnicity.”

 A sleepless night can increase anxiety by up to 30% the next day, study says

The study, published in Nature, found that not sleeping enough can lead to changes in the brain that are linked to higher levels of anxiety. But, researchers note, it’s not just getting enough sleep that’s important, it also matters what kind of sleep you log. High-quality, non-REM sleep — often called deep sleep — is the most effective at reducing anxiety levels the following day, researchers found. They also noted that a sleepless night can make you up to 30% more anxious the next day. “Deep sleep had restored the brain’s prefrontal mechanism that regulates our emotions, lowering emotional and physiological reactivity and preventing the escalation of anxiety,” said Eti Ben Simon, the study’s lead author. […] “People with anxiety disorders routinely report having disturbed sleep, but rarely is sleep improvement considered as a clinical recommendation for lowering anxiety,” Simon said. “Our study not only establishes a causal connection between sleep and anxiety, but it identifies the kind of deep, non-REM sleep we need to calm the overanxious brain.”

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

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

News & Information for November 9-10, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 11.06.19

Starting with this show, The Dr. Peter Breggin Radio/TV Hour goes live with radio every Wednesday, followed by the filmed TV version a few days later on my YouTube Channel. Yes, it’s now a radio/TV show, thanks to new technology at Progressive Radio Network (www.PRN.FM).  On this first radio/TV show, I am Joined by nutritionist Pam Popper PhD and psychiatrist and Pinar Miski, MD for a Peter, Pam and Pinar special.  It will be a regular feature the first Wednesday of every month.    This is the radio version of the fun, interesting and informative first presentation.   It’s the inaugural radio/TV show, so please forgive a few glitches along the way.

Does Poor Sleep Contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease?


Ian’s thoughts: this new study reminds me of a study from 2015 (see: Sleeping on your side could reduce Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s risk) that found the cerebrospinal-fluid wash occurring during sleep cleans your brain more effectively when you sleep on your side (literally deep sleep brain washing, lol). So not just sleep but how you sleep may reduce risk of major neurodegenerative diseases. 

More young New Zealanders using antidepressants

The rate of antidepressants being prescribed to young New Zealanders has risen by 44 percent. A study published today by the New Zealand Medical Journal examined trends in antidepressants prescribed to young people from 2007-2016. […] The biggest increase was in the 13 to 17-year-old age group, with an 83 percent rise over the nine years. […] “The World Health Organisation predicts by 2020 depression and anxiety will be more common than heart disease.” “We will never treat and prescribe our way out of the epidemic of mental distress. We really need to be changing the conditions that cause that distress… and supporting eachother… and have the skills to build up our wellbeing.” Relying on pills should not be the only option, he said.

Older adults find greater well-being in smaller social networks, study finds

Are younger adults who cultivate numerous connections with friends, families and acquaintances through online social networks any happier than older adults who have smaller circles of face-to-face relationships? The answer may be no, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. Quality social relationships boost well-being and may be as important to people under age 45 as they are to those over age 60. “Stereotypes of aging tend to paint older adults in many cultures as sad and lonely,” said Wändi Bruine de Bruin, PhD, of the University of Leeds and lead author of the study. “But the research shows that older adults’ smaller networks didn’t undermine social satisfaction and well-being. In fact, older adults tend to report better well-being than younger adults.” The research was published in the journal Psychology and Aging.

Is boredom bad? It is certainly common: Most everybody gets bored.

There is a sense that boredom sometimes causes bad things to happen (e.g., substance use, self-harm) and sometimes causes good things to happen (e.g., daydreaming, creativity), but it is hard to understand what boredom does without first understanding what it is. According to the meaning-and-attentional-components (MAC) model of boredom and cognitive engagement, the emotion of boredom signals deficits in attention and meaning. Much like pain, it may not be pleasant, but boredom critically alerts us that we are unable or unwilling to successfully engage attention in meaningful activities. Whether that is good or bad rests ultimately on how we respond.

Researchers: Lurking on social media could lead to depressive symptoms

Researchers at UT Dallas are looking at how lurking or passive use of social media might be more harmful than active use. […] In a study published in Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, researchers found that negative feelings develop when people go through highly curated photos and posts of friends on their social media pages. This can lead to social comparisons which can precipitate the “fear of missing out” (FOMO)

Are aspects of Twitter use associated with reduced depressive symptoms

In a two-wave, 4-month longitudinal study of 308 adults, two hypotheses were tested regarding the relation of Twitter-based measures of online social media use and in-person social support with depressive thoughts and symptoms. For four of five measures, Twitter use by in-person social support interactions predicted residualized change in depression-related outcomes over time; these results supported a corollary of the social compensation hypothesis that social media use is associated with greater benefits for people with lower in-person social support. In particular, having a larger Twitter social network (i.e., following and being followed by more people) and being more active in that network (i.e., sending and receiving more tweets) are especially helpful to people who have lower levels of in-person social support. For the fifth measure (the sentiment of Tweets), no interaction emerged; however, a beneficial main effect offset the adverse main effect of low in-person social support.

Forest Bathing: Where nature becomes your therapist

Tree-hugging has a new meaning. People who live in crazed, time-starved cities are seeking out patches of nature for what is called forest-bathing. It’s essentially just quiet time amid the sounds, sights and smells of unadulterated nature. The idea is to leave all your screens behind, find a spot where you can’t hear the traffic or see a manmade structure, and just sit on the earth and empty your mind. It’s a Japanese concept; they call it shinrin-yoku, and as it catches in metros around the world, healing forest walks are being conducted across Indian cities, from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Pune to Chandigarh, Panaji and Panchgani. “It stems from the idea that we humans have an innate longing to be surrounded by trees, which is why we immediately feel an overwhelming sense of warmth and calm when in a forest,” says Navneesh Makkad, a naturalist who organises healing forest walks in Pune and Panchgani.

More than a walk in the Maine woods

Some call it ‘forest bathing.’ The Japanese call it ‘shinrin-yoku.’ Whatever you call it, a growing body of research is proving what many outdoors enthusiasts already know: Spending time in nature reduces anxiety, lessens depression and is increasingly popular as therapy. […] Researchers say getting out in nature can have all kinds of benefits — reducing stress, calming anxiety, lifting depression, improving physical health. A recently published University of New Hampshire study found wilderness therapy — which combines counseling and outdoor activity — was more effective and less expensive than traditional therapy for teenagers struggling with substance use and other problems. “It works on bringing back the basics of life, I would say: good food, good sleep, good exercise and screen-less beauty,” said Michael Gass, professor of outdoor education and director of UNH’s Outdoor Behavior Healthcare Research Center. 

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for November 8, 2019

Better tools needed to aid antidepressant discontinuation, researchers say

A study conducted in the Netherlands has identified six themes that could aid discussions between GPs and patients about stopping antidepressants. Decision aids could help GPs and patients in the process of discontinuing antidepressants, research published in the British Journal of General Practice (24 September 2019) has shown […] The results showed that patients and professionals were largely in agreement about which discussion topics were the most important. These 50 topics were then grouped by the researchers into six core themes: process of discontinuation; expectations; professional guidance; current use; environment; and side effects.

State legislators vow to ban trans drugs for kids after case of ‘transitioning’ child goes viral

State legislators have responded to the national outcry over the mom seeking a gender “transition” for her seven-year-old, promising to introduce legislation to ban puberty blockers for minors. […] “We’re talking about children that can’t get a tattoo or smoke a cigar or a cigarette in the state of Georgia, but can be castrated and get sterilized,” Ehrhart told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. […] “I am a strong advocate for parent’s rights- but it is not the right of a parent to permanently alter a child’s gender or identity, even when based upon certain behaviors or the perceptions of a child’s mind which has not yet had time to fully develop,” Maddox wrote. The CDC cites “changes in brain development that may have life-long effects” as a reason for establishing a minimum drinking age of 21. According to neuroscientists, the brain doesn’t finish developing until somewhere around 25 years old. Of note, the prefrontal cortex – the portion of the brain responsible for decision making, planning, and risk analysis – does not fully develop until 18 to 20 years of age. 

Scientists identify gut microbiome uniquely associated with obesity

Obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) have been associated with alterations in the gut microbiome. Given that both conditions are commonly manifested together and that ruling out the impact of external confounding factors in microbiome variation is a challenge, scientists struggle with teasing out gut microbiome hallmarks that uniquely characterize each of the two conditions. […] Compared with lean individuals, those with obesity and normal fasting glucose showed differences in their gut microbiome at compositional (decreased alpha-diversity) and functional levels. Notable changes in individual gut microbial taxa found in individuals with obesity but not in obese individuals with T2D included a fall in Akkermansia, Faecalibacterium, Oscillibacter, Alistipes. […] On the whole, this study shows that obesity, but not type 2 diabetes, is linked to gut microbiome changes at both taxonomic and functional level. As such, validation of these findings in larger populations, considering external confounders such as different kinds of medication, is warranted.

Dr. Debra Soh: Gender dysphoria and ‘trans kids’

Less than half of U.S. children are getting enough sleep on school nights

While waking up in time to catch the morning school bus may be a distant memory for many of us, every age group can relate to feeling exhausted all day due to lack of sleep. The problem may especially be more prominent for kids, whose developing brains need sufficient rest each night. Now, an alarming new study reveals that a staggering amount of U.S. school-aged children aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis. […] “Chronic sleep loss is a serious public health problem among children,” says study author Dr. Hoi See Tsao in a release by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  “Insufficient sleep among adolescents, for example, is associated with physical and mental health consequences including increased risk of depression and obesity and negative effects on mood, attention and academic performance.” […] The study was presented at the AAP 2019 National Conference & Exhibition on October 26th, 2019.

Trouble sleeping? Insomnia symptoms linked to increased risk of stroke, heart attack

People who have trouble sleeping may be more likely to have a stroke, heart attack or other cerebrovascular or cardiovascular diseases, according to a study published in the November 6, 2019, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. “These results suggest that if we can target people who are having trouble sleeping with behavioral therapies, it’s possible that we could reduce the number of cases of stroke, heart attack and other diseases later down the line,” said study author Liming Li, MD, of Peking University in Beijing, China. […] “The link between insomnia symptoms and these diseases was even stronger in younger adults and people who did not have high blood pressure at the start of the study, so future research should look especially at early detection and interventions aimed at these groups,” Li said.

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

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

News & Information for November 7, 2019

Tweaking prescribing rules won’t fix chemical restraint in aged care, but this will

The Royal Commission into Aged Care and Safety wasn’t supposed to make any recommendations in its interim report. Yet it identified three key areas where immediate action should be taken. Responding to the over-reliance on chemical restraint was one. […] New legislation states chemical restraint: “involves the use of medication to influence a person’s behaviour, other than medication prescribed for a diagnosed mental disorder or a physical condition.” With 86% of aged care residents currently diagnosed with a mental health or behavioural condition, it’s difficult to determine whether a medication is used to treat a person’s symptoms or to control their behaviour. […] In the short term, restricting access may reduce the use of risperidone. But it’s very likely other sedatives will be prescribed instead. This is what happened when a warning about using risperidone was released in 2015. The use of other agents, especially oxazepam and quetiapine, rose as a result. […] After many years of research into this area, here’s what needs to be done to reduce chemical restraint in aged care homes. …

Physical activity offsets genetic risk for incident depression

Physical activity is increasingly recognized as an important modifiable factor for depression. However, the extent to which individuals with stable risk factors for depression, such as high genetic vulnerability, can benefit from the protective effects of physical activity, remains unknown. Using a longitudinal biobank cohort integrating genomic data from 7,968 individuals of European ancestry with high‐dimensional electronic health records and lifestyle survey responses, we examined whether physical activity was prospectively associated with reduced risk for incident depression in the context of genetic vulnerability. […] Polygenic risk was associated with increased odds of incident depression, and physical activity showed a protective effect of similar but opposite magnitude, even after adjusting for BMI, employment status, educational attainment, and prior depression. Higher levels of physical activity were associated with reduced odds of incident depression across all levels of genetic vulnerability, even among individuals at highest polygenic risk. Conclusions: Real‐world data from a large healthcare system suggest that individuals with high genetic vulnerability are more likely to avoid incident episodes of depression if they are physically active.

Useless and Harmful Medical Practices


Forest bathing: The free cure for stress and anxiety?

Forest bathing has been shown to lower your heart rate and blood pressure. It has a whole host of positive mood effects, including a reduction in hostility and depression. Forest bathing also decreases fatigue, anxiety and confusion, and generally has a strong relaxing effect. In Japan, increased forest coverage has even been suggested to lower overall mortality rates. I could go on and on — the point is, overwhelming scientific research backs up the power of forest bathing to help with numerous mental and physical health ailments. […] Overall, my experience trying out forest bathing was great. The rest was mentally rejuvenating, and I enjoyed wandering a lot more than I thought I would. The one part I kept mulling over was what exactly was helping me feel relaxed — was it something to do with being barefoot in nature, or was it simply that I wasn’t staring at a screen like I spend so much time doing? I decided that ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, and it was probably a mixture of both.

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 November 6, 2019

Majority of children regularly battling anxiety: ‘possibly most stressed generation ever’

It’s becoming more and more common these days for adults to report feeling overwhelmingly stressed and anxious on a daily basis. Now, a disconcerting survey has revealed that the majority of young British children are also suffering with anxiety. On average, anxious feelings are developing around the age of seven and mental health experts warn the trend may be worse than ever. The survey, commissioned by, asked 2,000 parents of children (ages 3-18) about their kids’ mental health. More than six in 10 respondents say their children regularly exhibit feelings of worry, unease, or fear. Of that group, 47% can quickly become unreasonably angry or irritable, and 29% usually become “out of control” during an anxiety attack. All of this anxiety is having physical repercussions as well, with one fifth of respondents reporting their children scratch at their own skin as a coping mechanism. Also, three in 10 parents say their kids routinely complain of stress-induced stomach aches. Other common physical symptoms listed by parents include using the toilet frequently, poor diet, and pulling out hair.

Raising Anti-Fragile Kids

Blue spaces: why time spent near water is the secret of happiness

Proximity to water – especially the sea – is associated with many positive measures of physical and mental wellbeing, from higher levels of vitamin D to better social relations. “Many of the processes are exactly the same as with green space – with some added benefits,” says Dr Mathew White, a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and an environmental psychologist with BlueHealth, a programme researching the health and wellbeing benefits of blue space across 18 (mostly European) countries. An extensive 2013 study on happiness in natural environments – to White’s mind, “one of the best ever” – prompted 20,000 smartphone users to record their sense of wellbeing and their immediate environment at random intervals. Marine and coastal margins were found by some distance to be the happiest locations, with responses approximately six points higher than in a continuous urban environment. The researchers equated it to “the difference between attending an exhibition and doing housework”.

Fact Check: Pediatric Endocrine Society falsely claims puberty blockers are ‘reversible’

The Pediatric Endocrine Society has released a new statement that claims puberty blockers are a part of “gender-affirming care” for children with gender dysphoria and are a “reversible treatment that decreases the distress of having the ‘wrong’ puberty.” […] no long-term studies have been conducted on children who have had their normal puberty suppressed with drugs. Idaho-based endocrinologist Dr. William Malone told Breitbart News puberty suppression is “frequently called reversible, but it’s not.” Malone explained: “Normal bone density development is interfered with and probably brain development too. Almost all children placed on puberty blockers go on to cross-sex hormones—meaning puberty blockers solidify and sometimes intensify dysphoria. It’s hard to call these impacts reversible. There have been no long-term studies done on children who have had normal puberty blocked. In no other area of medicine would a medical society be so cavalier about treatments with unknown consequences. Caution is the rule in such situations, and always has been. This departure from the typical standard of care deserves more scrutiny.”

 Antidepressant monotherapy in elderly linked to increased incident dementia

A prospective cohort study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that exposure to antidepressants in old age may increase risk for incident dementia. […] Although 11.0% (n=407) of individuals exposed to antidepressants developed dementia during the follow-up period, only 2.6% (n=1768) of individuals not exposed to antidepressants went on to develop dementia in the same period. […] The study validated results from prior observational studies, which also demonstrated that antidepressant use may be linked to an elevated risk for dementia. However, the study was limited by the potential of results to mimic associations between depression and dementia, rather than antidepressant effects, as well as possible underdiagnosis of dementia in the sample. “Clinicians, caregivers, and patients may wish to consider this potential negative consequence of antidepressant exposure with the objective of balancing the adverse events and symptomatic benefits of monotherapeutic antidepressant medication in old age,” the study authors recommended.

On the troubling trail of psychiatry’s pseudopatients stunt

From 1969 to 1972, an extraordinary experiment played out in 12 psychiatric institutions across 5 US states. Eight healthy people — including David Rosenhan, a social psychologist at Stanford University in California, who ran the experiment — convinced psychiatrists that they needed to be committed to mental hospitals. The ensuing paper, published in Science in 1973, opens with the words: “If sanity and insanity exist, how shall we know them?” It claimed that the psychiatric establishment was unable to distinguish between the two. Rosenhan’s study had far-reaching and much-needed effects on psychiatric care in the United States and elsewhere. By the 1980s, most psychology textbooks were quoting it. It also influenced society more widely, and not always positively: in the law courts, for instance, it undermined the value of expert testimonies from psychiatrists. Now, in The Great Pretender, journalist Susannah Cahalan turns a fresh, critical eye on the experiment and the shockwaves it sent through the field and beyond.

The spice curcumin (turmeric) lessens stress-induced depression in lab animals

Unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS) model is the most established method to study neurobiological mechanisms of depression. This work was intended to explore the efficacy of curcumin to revert the UCMS-induced oxidative burden and associated depression as well as potential of curcumin as an acetyl cholinesterase (AchE) inhibitor. […] Findings showed that curcumin supplementation significantly attenuated the UCMS-induced depression and anxiety like symptoms, decreased the load of UCMS propagated oxidative stress by improving antioxidant enzymes activities. Curcumin also improved the memory function and exhibited inhibitory effect on AchE activity. In conclusion it can be suggested that supplementation of curcumin in daily life can help in combating the stress-induced depression and ever increasing load of oxidative stress. Study also highlights the anti-acetylcholinesterase potential of curcumin which may be responsible for improved memory function following UCMS.

Experimentally manipulating social media abstinence: results of a four-week diary study

Social media use has a weak, negative association with well-being in cross-sectional and longitudinal research, but this association in experimental studies is mixed. This investigation explores whether social media abstinence leads to improved daily well-being over four weeks of time. Community and undergraduate participants (N = 130) were randomly assigned to five experimental conditions: no change in social media use, and one week, two weeks, three weeks, and four weeks abstinence from social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat). All participants completed a daily diary measuring loneliness, well-being, and quality of day. Results showed no main effect of social media abstinence. The duration of abstinence was not associated with change in outcomes and order of abstinence did not explain variance in outcomes. Results are consistent with trivial effects detected in large cross-sectional research, and call into question the causal relationship between social media and well-being on the daily level.

Ian’s thoughts: note that the cohort was young adults, as opposed to children. The impacts of social media on early brain development may be where concern is most justified. 

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for November 5, 2019

Stanford professor who changed America with just one study was also a liar

Stanford psychology and law professor David Rosenhan could transfix an audience in a crowded lecture hall with just a few words. […] His research work was also groundbreaking. In 1973, Rosenhan published the paper “On Being Sane in Insane Places” in the prestigious journal Science, and it was a sensation. The study, in which eight healthy volunteers went undercover as “pseudopatients” in 12 psychiatric hospitals across the country, discovered harrowing conditions that led to national outrage. His findings helped expedite the widespread closure of psychiatric institutions across the country, changing mental-health care in the US forever. Fifty years later, I tried to find out how Rosenhan had convinced his subjects to go undercover as psychiatric patients and discovered a whole lot more. Yes, Rosenhan had charm. He had charisma. He had chutzpah to spare. And, as I eventually uncovered, he was also not what he appeared to be. […] As a result, I am now seriously questioning a study I had once admired and had originally planned to celebrate. In my new book “The Great Pretender” (Grand Central Publishing), out this week, I paint the picture of a brilliant but flawed psychologist who is likely also a fabulist.

Doctors warn ‘gender affirmative’ treatments dangerous for children

A growing number of doctors, both in the US and abroad, are questioning claims by their professional medical associations that puberty-blocking drugs are helpful in treating children who are confused about their gender. Just last week, the Pediatric Endocrine Society released a statement saying chemical puberty suppression is a “reversible treatment that decreases the distress of having the wrong puberty.” Dr. Michael Laidlaw, an endocrinologist based in Rocklin, California, says those claims are patently false with no real scientific evidence to back them up. “What these medical societies have created is an institutionalized childhood pathway toward sterility,” Laidlaw warned in an interview with The Christian Post. […] “Until very recently, these children and adolescents were supported and cared for with counseling,” endocrinologist Dr. William Malone told The Christian Post. “With counseling, or even watchful waiting, an average of 85% of these children would have a resolution of their distress by early adulthood. There are currently 10 studies in the medical literature demonstrating this.”

“No identifiable reason” for 50% of antipsychotic use in ADHD

 Only about 50% of antipsychotic prescriptions for children and youth who have been newly diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have an identifiable clinical indication. Furthermore, fewer than half of these patients receive initial treatment with stimulants ― the recommended first-line pharmacologic therapy ― results of a national analysis show. “Overall, we found that 2. 6% of kids with a new diagnosis of ADHD were treated with an antipsychotic medication despite no FDA [US Food and Drug Administration–approved] indication, […] Among these, 52.7% had a potential clinical explanation for the administration of an antipsychotic, such as evidence of treatment-resistant ADHD. That still leaves approximately half of them who have no identifiable reason for receiving an antipsychotic. But they did nonetheless,” […] The findings were presented here at the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) 66th Annual Meeting.

Enriching the lives of seniors, one song at a time

In Nashville, the nonprofit Music for Seniors connects the city’s musicians with its older residents in an effort to build community and improve seniors’ quality of life. Now, the organization is teaming up with researchers at Vanderbilt University to see if the effects of its work can be measured — and potentially leveraged to help patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. John Yang reports.

Consumer Reports: The whole-body benefits of coffee

“The most important thing we’ve learned about coffee over the past 20 years is that there’s very little indication that it’s bad for you,” says Edward Giovannucci, M.D., a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “If anything, there’s more evidence that it may be healthy to drink.” The benefits are probably due to anti-inflammatories and antioxidants found naturally in coffee: polyphenols (such as chlorogenic and quinic acids) and diterpenes (such as cafestol and kahweol). It’s likely that many of coffee’s health perks extend to decaf, too, because with decaf, only the caffeine, not these other compounds, is removed. Studies have found that coffee has a positive effect on the risk of a variety of conditions and diseases, including brain health and weight control. But not all of the benefits have the same strength of evidence behind them. (See the table below.) Of course, adding loads of cream and sugar to your coffee may offset some of the benefits you get from it.

Some antipsychotics increase risk for pneumonia in older adults with Parkinson disease

Patients with Parkinson disease (PD) who use inappropriate antipsychotics may be at increased risk for pneumonia compared with patients with PD who use more appropriate atypical antipsychotic (AAP) medications, study results published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research suggests. […] Appropriate AAPs included aripiprazole, clozapine, or quetiapine, whereas inappropriate AAPs were olanzapine, asenapine, brexpiprazole, iloperidone, lurasidone, paliperidone, risperidone, or ziprasidone. […] The researchers concluded that findings from this study “suggest that selection of AAPs in PD is critical to prevent serious adverse events related to antipsychotic use in PD, given that pneumonia is one of the most common causes of mortality” in patients with PD. They add that there is a need for further research “to evaluate the risk of pneumonia in [patients with PD] using newer antipsychotic medications.”

Robert Talisse, Overdoing Democracy


Robert Talisse (@roberttalisse) is my guest on this episode. He’s the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. His central research area is democratic theory. In his latest book Overdoing Democracy: Why We Must Put Politics in Its Place (@OverdoingD), Robert argues that we spoil certain social goods if we spend too much time and effort in the arena of politics and elevate political allegiances above other commitments. If you’re in the New York area, you can catch him at Shakespeare and Company on November 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for November 4, 2019

Steven C. Hayes – A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters

This week on MIA Radio, we interview Professor of Psychology Dr. Steven C. Hayes. Dr. Hayes is Nevada Foundation Professor in the Behavior Analysis program at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada. An author of 45 books and over 625 scientific articles, his career has focused on an analysis of the nature of human language and cognition and the application of this to the understanding and alleviation of human suffering. He is the developer of Relational Frame Theory, an account of human higher cognition, and has guided its extension to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a popular evidence-based form of psychotherapy that uses mindfulness, acceptance, and values-based methods.

A case for the family meal: at the Wilsons’, dinner for 15

For centuries, families have gathered to eat and talk. Anthropological evidence from every culture and era show that human beings, by nature, live in families, and their identity and their traditions were kept alive by these family rituals. When I was growing up, mealtimes were a ritual that we observed strictly. I helped set the table and cleared away the plates. No elbows were allowed on the table, and there was to be no reaching across or talking with one’s mouth full of food. In the olden days—think Downton Abbey—people dressed for dinner. I worked in a restaurant for many years, and it soon became clear that few bus kids seemed to know how to set a table. They had no idea of where the cutlery was placed or which implements one used. When I questioned a young girl, she said, “We aren’t a sitting-around-the-table family. My dad lives with his new girlfriend. We tend to get takeout whenever,” she shrugged.

Seven minutes of mindfulness a day can improve mental health, Wharton study finds

A recent Wharton study showed that practicing mindfulness for just a few minutes a day can significantly improve students’ academic and professional performances […] just seven minutes of mindfulness every day can make students and employees more productive in their work. […] employees are more likely to donate their time and money to their co-workers when they practice mindfulness. “From our study, we basically showed that you can be a better person to the people around you, whether it is toward the people that you are doing a project with or your romantic other,” Cameron said. […] “Practicing mindfulness not only can help you relieve your stress, but also sharpen your focus. It is really helpful when you are studying for a test or getting ready for an interview,” Cameron said.

Itchy skin conditions and mental health are linked, and we need to talk about it

“There are already studies showing evidence of a correlation between itch and mental health problems in general, and in specific skin disorders, but there is a lack of a cross-sectional study  […] To help fill that gap, Dalgard and her team analysed data collected from thousands of dermatology patients with skin issues in 13 European countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Russia, and elsewhere. […] “Our findings demonstrate that the presence of itch in dermatological patients is significantly associated with clinical depression, suicidal ideation and stress,” the researchers conclude. “The study reveals that itch contributes substantially to the psychological burden of dermatological patients and confirms the multi-dimensional suffering of dermatological patients with itch.”

Podcast: Mindfulness at work: a little bit goes a long way

Workplace wellness is expanding beyond annual blood pressure checks to include the benefits of meditation, yoga and other exercises designed to manage stress and center the mind. But do such practices, known as mindfulness, really work? New research from Wharton management professor Lindsey Cameron finds that including just a few minutes of mindfulness in each day makes employees more helpful and productive. Her paper, titled “Helping Others by Being in the Present Moment: Mindfulness and Prosocial Behavior at Work,” was co-authored with Andrew C. Hafenbrack of the University of Washington, Gretchen M. Spreitzer of the University of Michigan, Chen Zhang of Tsinghua University, Laura J. Noval of Imperial College London, and Samah Shaffakat of Liverpool John Moores University. 

Metacognitive therapy may prevent depression relapse

Ending the cycle of negative thought rumination is the premise of a depression treatment called metacognitive therapy. New findings suggest that it may be more beneficial in stopping depression relapse than other more commonly used methods. […] Treatments, which include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication, can work well in the short term, but many people’s symptoms return either within a few months or later on in life. In fact, only about 30% of people with depression have not relapsed 18 months after the end of their treatment. The findings of the new study, which features in Frontiers in Psychology, provide early evidence of the benefits of metacognitive therapy.

Simple 10-minute mindfulness trick equals 44 minutes’ sleep, study claims

ARE you feeling exhausted and like you desperately need some shut-eye? According to a study, there is a handy 10-minute trick you can do which provides the benefits of 44 minutes of sleep. The technique is ideal for those who are too busy to settle down for a nap, but want a quick recharge of their batteries. The trick was published in the Journal of Business Venturing and says you should do “mindfulness practice” for 10 minutes to reap the benefits. According to healthdirect, “mindfulness is paying full attention to what is going on in you and outside you, moment by moment, and without judging. “It means you observe your thoughts, feelings, and the sensations of taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. You are also fully aware of your surroundings.”

UN calls for human rights-based approach to suicide prevention

On World Mental Health Day, the United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on the right to health, Dr. Dainius Pūras, recommended that states adopt human rights-based strategies for preventing suicide, according to a statement issued by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner on October 10, 2019. “The prevalence of suicide is an indication that the mental health of individuals and populations must be seriously addressed — this is a human rights imperative,” stated the special rapporteur. […] “A human-rights approach to suicide goes beyond a focus on mental health concerns and places problems of inequality, homelessness, poverty, and discrimination at the heart of prevention strategies,” stated the special rapporteur. In addition, governments could examine and attempt to alleviate social and familial issues, including economic deprivation, isolation, exposure to violence and abuse, and poor access to healthcare and social support.

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 November 2-3, 2019

Greetings from Peter & Bella on this sunny Sunday morning in Ithaca.

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Open Mic

I began today’s Dr. Peter Breggin Hour with a discussion of the latest mind control technology being openly planned and boasted about by Tesla’s billionaire Elon Musk and how he is collaborating with DARPA, the government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Check the latest in mind control on my website at my new resource called My Very Newest Highlights as “the Conscience of Psychiatry.” Our callers today sought help on issues from depression and traumatic head injury to how to manage living with their mother and exiting cults. Perhaps listening to our conversations can be helpful to you.

Just 20 minutes of contact with nature lowers stress hormone levels

What does the doctor prescribe for stress? A ‘nature pill’ consisting of 20 minutes of contact with nature, enough time for significant decreases in cortisol, the stress hormone. You likely know from experience that spending time outdoors and especially connected with nature lowers your stress. Scientifically, there have been dozens of studies that link spending time in nature with lowered stress levels. The breakthrough with this specific study is they were able to determine the optimal length of time to spend outside, just 20 minutes, to see significantly lowered cortisol levels. To see the maximum benefit, lead research Dr. MaryCarol Hunter from the University of Michigan says that “the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.” […] Another study dovetails into this one in highlighting the importance of nature time for kids and the impact it has on their adulthood. The more kids interact with the outdoors and nature the happier and healthier they are as adults. The study was conducted on one million Danish residents who span a variety of educational, health and socioeconomic scenarios.

Cannabis won’t help with your depression, says new study

Despite what’s been suggested by some, the study says, there’s simply no solid proof that they can help. “We analysed the available evidence,” the study authors wrote in medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry. “There is scarce evidence to suggest that cannabinoids improve depressive disorders and symptoms, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis.” The researchers did find that “very low quality evidence” that the cannabinoid THC can improve anxiety symptoms in cases of chronic pain. Further research is needed before medicinal cannabis is used to treat mental health issues, they concluded.

3 unexpected benefits of using mindfulness apps

If you’re one of the millions of people who’ve downloaded a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace, you’re probably using it to train your brain to focus in the moment. The apps guide you through meditations, and research has shown that they actually do help you improve your attention span. Studies collected by researchers at University of California, Berkeley found that users report feeling a greater amount of positive emotions, as well as fewer burdens brought on by external demands after just 100 minutes of practice. While reducing your mind’s tendency to wander can be a valuable result from using a mindfulness app, it’s not the only benefit you might see. Studies have shown that users get a few unexpected bonuses, too. Here are three improvements that might have you downloading an app:

Rats love driving tiny cars, even when they don’t get treats 


Rats that learn to drive are more able to cope with stress. That might sound like the fever-dream of a former scientist-turned-car writer, but it’s actually one of the results of a new study from the University of Richmond. The aim of the research was to see what effect the environment a rat was raised in had on its ability to learn new tasks. Although that kind of thing has been studied in the past, the tests haven’t been particularly complicated. Anyone who has spent time around rats will know they’re actually quite resourceful. So the team, led by Professor Kelly Lambert, came up this time with something a little more involved than navigating a maze: driving. If you’re going to teach rats to drive, first you need to build them a car (or Rat Operated Vehicle). The chassis and powertrain came from a robot car kit, and a transparent plastic food container provided the body. 

Ian’s thoughts: Humans have been using rats in labs for the better part of a century during which this potential for intelligent motor-vehicle operation remained undiscovered. It seems nobody thought ‘outside the box’, until the brilliant scientist behind this study, Kelly Lambert, who questioned: If rats can be taught to push levers to get food (which we’ve known for decades), can they be taught to push levers to move a car to get food? So she tested that hypothesis and now we have car-driving rats! If rats can be taught to drive motor vehicles, what are the limits? Could even smarter animals like dogs or monkeys be able to operate larger vehicles with ever greater skill? See also.  

TRIGGER WARNINGS: How Are American Colleges Are Forced To Stay Quiet? 


Evolutionary Psychology and Suicidology (draft for Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, 2019)

Suicide – deliberate, intentional self-killing – is a major cause of human mortality and a global public health concern. Suicidology emerged as an interdisciplinary field focused on the prediction and prevention of suicide. Progress has been disappointing: suicide rates resist efforts to reduce them, and there is no theoretical consensus on suicide’s causation. At least since the writing of Sigmund Freud, the search for a scientific understanding of suicide has included theories with evolutionary links. Apparently a human universal behavior, suicide presents a longstanding evolutionary puzzle: the fitness cost of suicide, of being dead, is predictably injurious for the individual’s reproductive future. Some adaptationist theories have been advanced from the neo-Darwinian idea of inclusive fitness: selection may produce behaviors that, while self-injurious for the individual, favor the reproductive prospects of individual’s genetic kin, but there are multiple theoretical and empirical problems with such proposals. Others suggest “by-product” explanations, that suicide is not in itself adaptive, but may be a noxious side-effect of evolved adaptations that are fitness enhancing overall. Most of these proposals coalesce around the central idea that pain, particularly social pain, a vital protective signal which demands the organism take action to end or escape it, may incidentally provoke suicide as a means to achieve that escape.

The hard questions about young people and gender transitions

Earlier this week, I met a group of women in their early 20s who are not supposed to exist. They’re women who, in their teens, realized that they were actually men, socially transitioned to the other sex, and then underwent hormone therapy to change their bodies, faces, and voices to become transgender men. After varying amounts of time, however, they all realized they had made a big mistake, stopped testosterone therapy, and “detransitioned” back to being who they were before. […] These women live every day with the consequences of their decision: tenacious facial hair (one has to shave every three days) and body hair, deeper voices, permanently enlarged clitorises. They also suffer from the effects of “binding,” i.e. wearing a breast corset of sorts, to flatten their chests, so they can pass more easily as men. “I have back issues, lower lung capacity, and permanent dents around my shoulders,” one told me. “Every now and again, I have to push a rib back in to breathe,” another recounts. “I have permanent bruising,” another explains. […] How typical are these responses? We can’t tell, because in the U.S., it’s close to impossible to get an empirical grasp on it.

Ian’s thoughts: A common myth is that people can transition to the opposite sex. That myth is literally baked into the discussion as if it was a given fact. However, it is no more possible than plastic transitioning into wood. The best we can do is make plastic look like wood, which is then merely fake wood, which we often see where plastic has been molded to have the texture of wood. In the same way, those who undergo “sex transition” can only ever end up as a simulation of the other sex, not actually the other sex. Biological sex is not a choice. No man could be transitioned into a woman who could bear children. Perhaps someday far in the future that could be done, but not now and probably not ever. 

Longer, more optimistic, lives: Historic optimism and life expectancy in the United States

How was optimism related to mortality before the rise in “deaths of despair” that began in the late 1990s? Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we show that as early as 1968 more optimistic people lived longer. The relationship depends on many factors including gender, race, health, and education. We then evaluate these and other variables as correlates of individual optimism over the period 1968–1975. We find women and African Americans were less optimistic at the time than men and whites, although this changed beginning in the late 1970′s. Greater education is associated with greater optimism and so is having wealthy parents. We then predict optimism for the same individuals in subsequent years, thus generating our best guess as to how optimism changed for various demographic groups from 1976–1995. We find people with less than a high school degree had the greatest declines in optimism, a trend with long-run links to premature mortality and deaths of despair. Our findings highlight the importance of better understanding optimism’s causes and consequences.

Sleep Experts Debunk 15 Sleep Myths


Listen: Every angle on Biogen’s shocking Alzheimer’s news

An experimental drug for Alzheimer’s disease, aducanumab, was written off in March as not effective. Then last week the company, Biogen, shocked everyone when they announced they found evidence of efficacy, but only in a high-dose subgroup. However, many experts are skeptical. 

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for November 1, 2019

The brain waves generated during deep sleep appear to trigger a cleaning system in the brain that protects it against Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Electrical signals known as slow waves appear just before a pulse of fluid washes through the brain, presumably removing toxins associated with Alzheimer’s, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Science. The finding could help explain a puzzling link between sleep and Alzheimer’s, says Laura Lewis, an author of the study and an assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Boston University.

Individualized clinical management of patients at risk for Alzheimer’s dementia

Introduction: Multidomain intervention for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk reduction is an emerging therapeutic paradigm. Methods: Patients were prescribed individually tailored interventions (education/pharmacologic/nonpharmacologic) and rated on compliance. Normal cognition/subjective cognitive decline/preclinical AD was classified as Prevention. Mild cognitive impairment due to AD/mild-AD was classified as Early Treatment. Change from baseline to 18 months on the modified Alzheimer’s Prevention Cognitive Composite (primary outcome) was compared against matched historical control cohorts. Cognitive aging composite (CogAging), AD/cardiovascular risk scales, and serum biomarkers were secondary outcomes. Results: One hundred seventy-four were assigned interventions (age 25–86). Higher-compliance Prevention improved more than both historical cohorts. Lower-compliance Prevention also improved more than both historical cohorts […] Discussion: Individualized multidomain interventions may improve cognition and reduce AD/cardiovascular risk scores in patients at-risk for AD dementia.

Using Tylenol during pregnancy linked to higher rates of ADHD, autism

Exposure to acetaminophen in the womb may have some connection with a child’s risk for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder, suggests a new study published Wednesday in JAMA-Psychiatry. […] “In the past, acetaminophen use during pregnancy was considered to be safe,” said study author Xiaobin Wang, a Johns Hopkins pediatrics professor. “Our findings along with previous studies raise the concern about potential risk of acetaminophen use during pregnancy. This information helps the women and their providers to weigh the risk and benefit of acetaminophen use during pregnancy and make informed decisions.” […] “There’s a lot more work to be done here, but they show a solid relationship of likely perinatal use of acetaminophen and higher risk” of ADHD and autism, McCleery said. “I would say this is more convincing than previous research that there is a connection between acetaminophen and autism,” he said. “It suggests we should be thinking about this more as a possible causal risk factor.”

Happiness linked to a better heart, stronger immune system and longer life

There is a huge body of research that documents a link between healthiness and happiness. And there’s even hope for the old farts known for their grumpiness and pessimism. A Harvard Medical School report says that being young has little or no bearing on happiness. They cite a study where adults grew steadily happier as they moved into and through middle age. Happiness levels only decline slowly when health problems and other life problems emerged according to the study. […] Perhaps the most preeminent study, and one specifically focused on male behavior and the connection between our social relationships and happiness, is the 75-year-and-counting Harvard study of adult development. Its researchers have tracked the lives of 724 men and now their children. According to study director Robert Waldinger, 75 years of research on male health can be boiled down into one simple point: “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”

Teens on birth-control pills may be at higher risk of depression and suicidality

Teenage girls who use birth control pills are more likely to cry, sleep too much and experience eating issues than their peers who don’t use oral contraceptives, according to a recent study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry. Research has shown that adolescents who use birth control pills are more prone to be at risk for depression in adulthood — regardless of whether they continue taking the pills when they get older. But investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, University Medical Center Groningen and Leiden University Medical Center sought to examine something more subtle — depressive symptoms, which include increased crying, sleeping too much, feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts.

Narcissists are happier, tougher and less stressed, according to science

Narcissistic personality traits — such as grandiosity, superiority and entitlement — have been on the rise in recent years, especially among high-profile leaders and successful CEOs. Although narcissists can be challenging to work with, they can easily attract a following of people, are more likely to receive promotions and often get paid more. In fact, people who have high levels of narcissism also tend to be mentally tougher and have lower rates of depression and stress than their humbler peers, according to new studies out of Queen’s University Belfast. That’s because many people with narcissistic traits are driven by the belief that they deserve the best in life. “In their attempt to gain access to the resources that they think they deserve, [they] face many challenges,” Kostas Papageorgiou, study author tells CNBC Make It. “Overcoming these challenges may help them build their mental toughness.”

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

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

News & Information for October 31, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 10.23.19

My guest, David Mark Keirsey, is a researcher in Artificial Intelligence but the show is nothing about that. He has decided to spend a portion of his life promoting the work and telling the story of his amazing father David Keirsey, a brilliant psychologist who has since passed on. David knew that his father and I were friends who shared many interests and so he got in touch with me. His father wrote the multi-million best sellers Please Understand Me and Please Understand Me II. The first of those two books had a healthy influence on my understanding of myself and I of recommend it to my clients. The show mostly focused on Keirsey’s concept of the four temperaments: The Idealist, Artisan, Guardian and Rational, which is an area I have not studied. You can listen and check out who you are. If you’re interested, I talk a lot more about myself than usual and conclude I am an Idealist and a Rational. To me, most interesting, is Keirsey’s concept that madness is a choice that is made when we feel unworthy and want to defend against it or run from feeling unworthy. I used to think that madness was a choice, but that’s hard to argue when anyone can be driven made if systematically driven over the edge. I’ve been working on a similar, more universal concept that most or all psychological overwhelm (not only the extreme of madness) comes ultimately from feeling unworthy of love. Keirsey concluded that people can feel unworthy about many different things—but I tend to think that feeling unworthy of love is ultimately psychological calamity. Tune it: It’s an interesting conversation.

From Moses to Jesus to Prozac: A theory on “chemical imbalances” and faith

I was surprised when members of my field theorized that emotional suffering (sadness/anxiety) is a physical illness caused by a spontaneous chemical imbalance that takes control of one’s brain. I was stunned when millions eagerly adopted this never-verified idea,1 without any confirming blood test or brain scan. We’ve all become upset over upsetting circumstances or events. Yet many of these believers either deny the reality of having such reasons for being upset (“My life’s fine; I’ve got no problems. Depression just runs in my family”) or acknowledge reasons but fervently dismiss their reaction to them as unwarranted (“I shouldn’t be getting so upset over such things, so it must be chemical”). They often zealously insist that “antidepressants really fixed my brain chemistry” even after being shown proof that these drugs only work via the placebo effect,2 and even though there’s no way they could distinguish a real effect from a placebo effect. I’ve heard these or similar quotes from many people who’ve come to see me.

How much dog do you need for optimum health?

[T]wo new studies published this month in the journal Circulation both found that owning a dog reduces your risk of dying. The first study, by Carolyn Kramer and colleagues at the University of Toronto, reviewed ten other studies dating back more than 50 years, covering 3.8 million people. They compared dog owners to non-owners and found that dog owners had a 24% lower risk of dying, from any cause, over a 10-year period. The benefit was even greater for people who’d suffered a heart attack: those who had a dog at home after their heart attack had a 65% lower risk of dying. The second study, by Tove Fall and colleagues at Uppsala University, focused on the benefits of owning a dog for people who have had a heart attack or a stroke. They used the Swedish National Patient Register to identify 335,000 patients who’d suffered one of these events between 2000 and 2012, about 5% of whom were dog owners. They found even greater benefits than the first study: among people who’d had a heart attack, their risk of dying was 33% lower if they owned a dog as compared to people who lived alone.

NIH fails to correct pattern of violating spending transparency law

The National Institutes of Health has not stopped violating a federal spending law on government animal research after an audit earlier this year found systemic transparency failures by the agency. Taxpayer watchdog White Coat Waste Project plans to file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday requesting an investigation into widespread violations of the Stevens Amendment by all seven taxpayer-funded National Primate Research Centers, which confine over 22,000 primates. The complaint, obtained by the Washington Examiner, outlines violations in relation to primate experiments funded by $118 million worth of National Institutes of Health grants.

Coffee consumption boosts health of gut microbiota, analysis finds

The health benefits and drawbacks of coffee often create a confusing picture of what’s a safe amount to consume and what habitual coffee drinkers should be monitoring. Count a healthy gut among the positives coffee drinkers get from their cup of joe. While the stimulating effects of caffeine on metabolism are widely known, new research suggests that those who tend to be heavier coffee drinkers also have a healthier population of gut microbiota. A new study out of Baylor College of Medicine analyzed biopsies from 34 people undergoing colonoscopies in order to better understand the relationship between caffeine and colonic gut microbiota. […] The study found that high caffeine consumption was linked to a higher presence of Faecalibacterium and Roseburia, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties. There were lower levels of the “potentially harmful” Erysipelatoclostridium ramsium (E. ramosum) in this group. Lower coffee consumption was linked to higher levels of E. ramosum, which some studies have linked to metabolic syndrome and the enhancement of diet-induced obesity, though the right levels E. ramosum are considered part of a healthy gut microbiome.

Doctor Lays Out Dangers Of Using Puberty Blockers On Children    


Four steps to conquering the psychological roadblocks to success and happiness

Anxiety is often a nebulous concept. We know it affects our emotions, but it’s difficult to describe. This is because anxiety feels different for everyone. You might feel uneasy. You might feel light-headed or dizzy. Your heartbeat might escalate. You may experience hot flashes. Regardless of how anxiety affects you, it takes a heavy toll on your performance and stress levels. As a leader, you’re probably no stranger to it. Anxiety is ultimately a reaction to stress, and it’s commonly associated with rumination or obsessive thinking. It can even cause palpitations and tremors, and is closely related to what’s called anticipatory stress, which concerns thoughts of the future. Leaders experience anticipatory stress when they express worry about a future event like an upcoming presentation or board meeting. Remember Murphy’s Law? It’s the idea that if something can go wrong, it will.

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

Whether the drug is a sleeping pill, tranquilizer, stimulant, antidepressant, mood stabilizer, or antipsychotic, Your Drug May Be Your Problem reveals its documented withdrawal symptoms, demonstrating what many doctors don’t know, understand, or consider: withdrawal symptoms often mimic the symptoms for which a person has been medicated in the first place. Armed with this essential background information, readers will then be able to choose for themselves when and how to withdraw from psychiatric drugs.

News & Information for October 30, 2019

Tipperary doctor Mary Ryan issues warning to women over antidepressants

Respected endocrinologist Dr Mary Ryan has issued a warning over women being misdiagnosed with depression – when actually they are just going through the menopause. The Tipperary doctor has urged women to educate themselves around the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and question their GP if they automatically go to prescribe anti-depressants. “In perimenopause and menopause women get very tired and sluggish and don’t sleep well,” she told RSVP Live. “The medical profession wrongly think they’re depressed when they’re not, it’s just hormone imbalance. “Once it’s explained to them what’s wrong, they can make a huge difference themselves through lifestyle changes.” Dr Ryan said women tend to “overdo it” in their daily lives and need to rest more. “They need to pull back, rest and recharge, listen to their bodies and get enough sleep. “The hormone control centre gets very tired around this time, so that can help hugely. “Eat healthily, drink enough water, take natural supplements if necessary but ask advice first.

Just thinking about bright objects changes the size of your pupils

The eyes could be the windows to the mind, if not the soul. It turns out that simply thinking about a bright light is enough to change the size of our pupils, even if there isn’t anything real for our eyes to react to. Our pupils get bigger, or dilate, in dark conditions in order to let more light into our eyes. The reverse happens in bright conditions, which cause our pupils to contract. A team led by Nahid Zokaei at the University of Oxford, UK, looked at whether thinking about brightness could alter people’s pupils. […] The team found that people’s pupils dilated when thinking of the dark patch and contracted when they pictured the light one, the same results that would be expected when physically looking at the objects. This seemingly small action could allow us to anticipate a change in brightness before it happens, says Sebastiaan Mathôt at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who carried out a similar study that also confirmed this finding.

Significantly fewer pregnant women take antidepressants

A pregnancy is not always a happy event and as many as 10-15 per cent of pregnant women in Denmark have depressive symptoms. Despite years of critical focus on the side effects of antidepressants in the healthcare system, consumption of antidepressants by pregnant women actually increased drastically during the period 1997 to 2011. A new study carried out by the National Centre for Register-based Research and the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University now shows a significant decrease in the use of antidepressants by pregnant women — with consumption falling by more than 33 per cent since 2011. […] “Research from Denmark and other countries has documented a striking increase in the use of antidepressants over the past two decades. Now, for the first time, we can see a significant decline in the use of antidepressants by pregnant women,” says Julie Werenberg Dreier. 

CDC’s annual U.S. health report shows growing despair among American men

Signs of declining health for American men abound in the National Center for Health Statistics latest annual report. Life expectancy at birth for males declined to 76.1 years in 2017 from 76.5 in 2014, according to the data. At age 65, men are projected to live another 18.1 years compared with 20.6 years for women. […] Life expectancy has been falling across demographics in America. The estimates for whites, blacks and Hispanics fell to 78.5, 74.9 and 81.8 respectively by 2017, after having peaked in 2012 or 2014 for those groups.


The decline in life expectancy is occurring in part due to deaths from despair. From 2007 to 2017, the mortality rate from drug overdoses increased 82%, to 21.7 deaths from 11.9 per 100,000. Over the same 10-year period, suicide rates increased 24%, to 14.0 deaths from 11.3 per 100,000 resident population. […] From 1999–2000 to 2015–2016, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity among men increased from 27.4% to 38.1%. For American woman, the situation is even worse — the prevalence of obesity among them increased from 33.3% to 41.2%. Adult obesity is correlated with higher death rates as it often is associated with increases in hypertension, high cholesterol levels, type 2 diabetes, and other health conditions which limit ones functionality such as asthma, sleep apnea, and joint problems.

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 October 29, 2019

Cost-effectiveness of CBT vs pharmacotherapy for depression: insights from a study author

Although second-generation antidepressants are more-cost effective than cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the initial treatment of depression at 1 year, psychotherapy demonstrates better cost-effectiveness at 5 years, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. […] although 70% of patients with major depressive disorder prefer psychotherapy to pharmacotherapy, <25% receive any form of psychotherapy. Given the large gap between patient preference and rates of psychotherapy provision, the authors note, access to therapies such as CBT should be expanded. […] “We were actually surprised because we know with a fair amount of confidence that CBT costs more than antidepressants. That’s not something where there’s much uncertainty with the data. Given that certainty, I would have guessed going in that antidepressants would be much more cost-effective, but that’s not what we found. We found that the two are kind of equivalent in terms of their cost-effectiveness and either of them would be a reasonable option.”

How light therapy offered in IM Building helps students cope with seasonal affective disorder

While the colder months promise more breaks and potential snow days for students, for some it can also bring seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Though this can be a challenging time for some, the Wellness Suite located in the IM Building offers students free use of Verilux HappyLight Energy Lamps— lights that students can use to help ease their seasonal depression. The winter, assistant director of Health Promotion and Wellness Erin Raupers said, can be particularly difficult for students. While some may have seasonal depression — where a person’s mood would negatively change in the winter — others might just not feel their best. “When we are in the winter months and don’t have as much light, it’s pretty natural even for a happy, positive person to feel kind of low,” she said. “So I would say that anyone that was feeling those symptoms could come in and benefit from using it.”

Mirtazapine Withdrawal Using Tapering Strips – A Video Diary

Having made previous failed attempts to withdraw from the antidepressant mirtazapine (Remeron) I decided to record a video diary of my attempt to come off using tapering strips. Tapering strips from the Netherlands are pre-packaged, gradually reducing dosage tablets that aim to ease the difficulty of withdrawal and minimise withdrawal symptoms. In total it took me over two and a half years to withdraw completely, but the last 84 days were using tapering strips. In this video I record my experiences and talk about how tapering strips helped me to become drug-free after more than seven years. Thanks for watching!

Metabolic syndrome prevalent in those treated with long-acting injectable antipsychotics

Metabolic syndrome and cardiometabolic risk factors may be highly prevalent among patients with severe mental illness prescribed long-acting injectable (LAI) antipsychotic medications, according to study results published in Psychiatry Research. […] The results highlight the importance of addressing metabolic syndrome and associated health risks in patients with severe mental illness, particularly those prescribed LAIs. Study limitations included reliance on self-report data, which could lead to unreliable claims about the physical activity, diet, and smoking habits of patients.

Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin can battle major depression, scientists find

Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin can battle major depression effectively and could be a safer alternative than antidepressants, a major new study suggests. More than one in six British adults – around 7.3 million people – take antidepressants but the drugs do not work for around 30 per cent, and can bring side-effects such as nausea, insomnia, weight gain and even suicidal thoughts.  Now an analysis of 30 studies involving 1,610 people has concluded that NSAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) were 79 per cent more effective at fighting major depression than a placebo. 

Falls are a leading cause of injury among the elderly. Here’s how to stay safe

Former president Jimmy Carter is home again after a second fall this month, the latest causing him to fracture his pelvis. Both accidents happened at his home. Falls are the No. 1 thing that sends older Americans to the ER, according to the National Council on Aging. Aging is obviously a risk factor. Cluttered or dark living areas are as well. But there are some fall risks that aren’t so obvious. Older people get dehydrated, causing them to become dizzy or faint. And medications interacting with each other can also lead to falls. Research found antidepressants had the strongest association with increasing falls among the elderly. Some anti-inflammatory and blood pressure drugs are linked with increased fall risks as well. Benzodiazepines are another common medication older people take for sleeping disorders that have been linked to falling.

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for October 28, 2019

Then They Came For Your Mind: The Untold Story of Psychosurgery

Dr. Breggin gives an account of his activism and struggle against psychosurgery more than 50 years ago – a 1960s-70s era campaign to legitimize the destruction of the brain, and utilize an evolving and increasingly technological mode of intervention in the brain using implanted electrodes to target minute areas in the brain tied to behavior, and to use radio frequency (RF) monitoring and activation to control moods, attitude and perhaps even thought.

Should we use food to treat depression?

This nascent field of research is still trying to determine the strength of the depression-diet connection. A 2018 review and meta-analysis on the subject concluded that a healthier diet was significantly associated with a lower risk of developing depressive symptoms, additionally finding that a less inflammatory diet was associated with a lower rate of depression when compared with a more inflammatory diet. The authors nonetheless caution that further studies, including randomized controlled trials, are needed. Until recently, the only randomized controlled trial of dietary interventions for depressed adults was the 2017 “SMILES” study. In this trial, adults with depression were randomized to either receive nutritional counseling sessions or social support protocol for 12 weeks. At the end of the study period, researchers found those in the dietary intervention group had significantly lower symptoms of depression and were significantly more likely to have remission of their depression. Then, in October of 2019, another randomized controlled trial was published in the journal PLOS ONE. Researchers in this study randomized young adults with depression symptoms and poor overall quality of diet to either three weeks of dietary intervention (which included a reducing refined carbohydrates, sugar, fatty/processed meats and soft drinks) or continuation of their standard diet. At the end of the study period, the students randomized to the dietary intervention reported significantly less depressive symptoms. 

It is high time we realised that poor mental health is not properly addressed by antidepressants

THE levels of mental health problems in Scotland is now extremely concerning, at around one in three of adults and children; not long ago it was one in four. The most common problem is depression, which is no surprise considering the levels of poverty, anxieties about losing jobs, work stress, climate change, drug deaths, and of course Brexit. For children much of the anxiety and depression is associated with body image and bullying. Addiction to screen time on their phones generates its own anxieties. Some are viewing them five hours a day and suffering sleep deprivation. […] The real scandal in all of this is that, as has been known for decades, antidepressants are not the solution. They cost the NHS a fortune, only work for a tiny number of people and are highly addictive. People become trapped in years of misery, when they discover they don’t work. We have been conned into believing that depression is caused by chemical imbalances in our brains that pills can solve. This is a cruel lie, because as any medic knows there is no known way of testing if the human brain has a chemical deficiency. So, if we cannot establish the level of a chemical deficiency, how can they prescribe the correcting dose of that chemical? The answer is they cannot.

Prozac shows no benefit for autistic children with obsessive behaviors

Research found little evidence to suggest a widely used antidepressant reduces obsessive compulsive behaviours in patients with autism spectrum disorders. According to the authors, up to one third of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are prescribed antidepressants, despite inconclusive evidence of their effectiveness. Led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), the clinical trial investigated the ability of fluoxetine (sold as Prozac) to reduce obsessive compulsive behaviours in 146 participants aged 7.5–18 years. Initial results revealed some behavioural changes after taking the drug, but further analysis failed to show any meaningful clinical benefit.

Screen time linked to greater caffeine, sugar consumption among teens

According to researchers, recent data actually indicates that overall consumption of caffeine among adolescents is trending down, but teens who report frequent use of electronic devices are drinking more coffee, energy drinks, soda, etc. For their research, the study’s authors examined 32,418 American students in eighth or tenth grade. “There is a trend towards reduced energy drink and soda consumption between 2013 and 2016 which is our latest data, but greater electronic device use, particularly TV, is linked to more consumption of added sugar and caffeine among adolescents,” explains study leader and pediatrician Dr. Katherine Morrison in a release. “Addressing this through counseling or health promotion could potentially help.”

Moderate use of screen time can be good for your health, new study finds 

Based on data from over 35,000 American children and their caregivers, the study suggests children spending between one to two hours a day engaged in television-based or digital device activities are more likely to demonstrate higher levels of ‘psychosocial’ functioning than non-users. Put simply, this means they are likely to have better levels of social and emotional well-being than non-users. Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, and lead-author of the study, said: “Digital devices are now an inescapable feature of everyday life. Ease of use and reduced cost allow growing numbers of young people to access digital devices, games and online platforms. “In the absence of compelling evidence linking digital screen engagement to mental and physical wellbeing, professional guidance given to caregivers and educators has been predominately shaped by a sense of precaution that prioritizes limits on digital engagement.

The Antidepressant Fact Book – by Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for October 26-27, 2019

Dr. Breggin: The Most Important Video We Have Ever Watched!

Aaron and Melissa Dykes have made the single most important video that we have ever watched. It is called Putting a Chip in Your Brain Will Not Make You a Superhero or a God. It follows their astonishing documentary about the history of mind control, The Minds of Men. Elon Musk, the super-wealthy founder of Tesla, has now officially with great fanfare rolled out his ongoing and rapidly progressing technology for the physical control of the brain and mind by irreversibly hooking up our living brains with thread-like wires to the hard metal of supercomputers. But what will happen to the humans enmeshed in this catastrophe and who will be controlling them? In the video by Aaron and Melissa, we see and hear Musk and his team at their official roll out describing how they are building a foundation for mass application by first getting approval from the FDA for more limited “medical” uses. […]  Read more of this article by Dr. Breggin…

Sex differences in humor production ability: A meta-analysis

We offer the first systematic quantitative meta-analysis on sex differences in humor production ability. We included studies where participants created humor output that was assessed for funniness by independent raters. Our meta-analysis includes 36 effect sizes from 28 studies published between 1976 and 2018 (N = 5057, 67% women). Twenty of the 36 effect sizes, accounting for 61% of the participants, were not previously published. Results based on random-effects model revealed that men’s humor output was rated as funnier than women’s, with a combined effect size d = 0.321. Results were robust across various moderators and study characteristics, and multiple tests indicated that publication bias is unlikely. Both evolutionary and cultural explanations were considered and discussed.

The lead scientist posted a tweet thread discussing those findings. 

No ‘credible scientific evidence to support’ puberty blockers for ‘transgender children

The American College of Pediatricians reports experts on both sides of the issue agree that “80 percent to 95 percent” of children with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria “accepted their biological sex by late adolescence.” […] Lupron, for example, is being used — without formal FDA approval — as a puberty blocker on the increasing number of children and adolescents who are being diagnosed in the U.S. and the U.K. with gender dysphoria. […] Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, confirmed to Breitbart News that Lupron “is off-label for lack of long-term studies.” She added, “It undoubtedly causes irreversible loss of fertility and many other adverse effects that are potentially lethal. It does not turn a male child into a female child, only into a eunuch who will lose his full potential for growth and strength.” […] “Children have no capacity to comprehend these long-term consequences, so the use of this drug in gender-confused children constitutes unethical experimentation,” Orient said. “Informed consent is not possible.”

Mental health prescriptions rising fastest in 10-14-year-old Scots

PRESCRIPTIONS for psychiatric drugs including antidepressants, sleeping pills and antipsychotics are growing faster for children aged 10 to 14 than any other age group in Scotland – and the trend is accelerating. In less than a decade, the number of ten to 14-year-olds taking anti-anxiety and insomnia drugs such as diazepam, zopiclone and benzodiazepines – better known as sedatives or tranquilisers – has soared eight-fold, from 703 in 2009/10 to 5,533 by 2018/19. Official guidelines stress that tranquilisers should be restricted to cases of anxiety which are “severe, disabling or causing unacceptable distress”, or for the treatment of sleeping problems “only after the underlying causes have been established and treated”. […] “What there is is a very effective marketing campaign by the drug companies. It’s a known strategy they’ve used for 50 years: once they’ve saturated the adult market, for which there is research and regulation, they push beyond that in two directions.

Rigorous Study Finds Antidepressants Worsen Long-Term Outcomes

A new study conducted by Jeffrey Vittengl at Truman University has found that taking antidepressant medications resulted in more severe depression symptoms after nine years. The study, published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, examined outcomes over a nine-year period and included initial depression severity as well as other factors. Vittengl divided treatment into categories and compared them to those who received no treatment:

  • inadequate treatment without medication (fewer than eight sessions of therapy)
  • inadequate treatment including medication (fewer than four appointments with prescriber)
  • adequate treatment without medication (at least eight sessions of therapy)
  • adequate treatment with medication (at least four appointments with prescriber)

Of participants with depression, 38.1% received no treatment, 25.2% received inadequate treatment with medication, while 13.5% received adequate treatment with medication. 19.2% received inadequate treatment without medication, and only 4.1% received adequate treatment without medication. The results were startling. Even after controlling for depression severity, participants who took medication had significantly more severe symptoms at the nine-year follow-up than participants who did not. In fact, even people who received no treatment at all did better than those who received medication. “Adequacy” of treatment did not appear to make much of a difference.

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for October 25, 2019

Alert 120: Will They Seize Your Brain for Ransom? It’s coming.

See Dr. Breggin’s new blog about billionaires and DARPA joining together for physical control of the brain. You have to read this! Then see the video. Don’t miss the editorial comment by Melissa and Aaron Dykes about DARPA’s collaboration with Elon Musk’s new project to wed your brain permanently to computers under his control. 

Peter R. Breggin

Why is it Almost Always Men Who Commit Violent Acts?

Another violent act in America. Another man who committed it. Why do men in our society seem to always be the ones who carry out violent acts? Is it how we bring up boys? Or is there another influence – genes. I was lucky enough to get professor Steve Stewart-Williams, author of the book The Ape That Understood the Universe, so come back to the show and share more about the evolutionary Psychology perspective on this complex issue. And by the way, you can use the promo code APE20 to purchase this book at Cambridge University Press at a 20 percent discount. You’re going to find this discussion very interesting.

Lifestyle is a threat to gut bacteria: Ancient mummy proves it

The intestinal microbiome is a delicate ecosystem made up of billions and billions of microorganisms, bacteria in particular, that support our immune system, protect us from viruses and pathogens, and help us absorb nutrients and produce energy [as well as may underlie psychological health]. The industrialization process in Western countries had a huge impact on its content. This was confirmed by a study on the bacteria found in the intestine of Ötzi, the Iceman who, in 1991, emerged from the ice of the Ötztal Alps, where Italy borders with Austria. Scientists of Eurac Research examined samples of the mummy’s bacteria, confirming the findings of the researchers of the University of Trento who had analyzed the genome of intestinal microorganisms of over 6500 individuals from all continents.

Benzodiazepines and z-drugs are prescribed more in poorer areas

Benzodiazepines and z-drugs are more commonly prescribed in areas with socio-economic deprivation, according to a study of GP practices in England. More than 14 million prescriptions of the drugs, commonly prescribed for insomnia, anxiety and alcohol withdrawal, were made in 2017. The total amount of prescribed drugs is equivalent to 2.3 billion milligrams of diazepam (sometimes sold under the trade name Valium). This is equivalent to about 700 doses for each person given a prescription, based on a typical starting dose for anxiety. […] “I feel that the health service as a whole probably has insufficient capacity to deal with people with addictions,” says Shantikumar. “It may be that people in more deprived areas simply don’t have access to drug-dependency services.”

Gut microbiome may have connection to mental health

New research shows that the makeup of the gut microbiome plays a significant role not only in mental health, but in cognition as well. The channel of communication runs both ways – the gut influences the brain, and the brain influences the gut. […] Out of these findings has come the term “psychobiotics,” […] it refers to the types of live bacteria, or probiotics, that impart positive mental health benefits. Research in mice has shown that infusions of beneficial bacteria to the gut resulted in markedly lower levels of inflammation in the brain. This, in turn, influenced behavior, including lower levels of anxiety and fear when the mice made their way through a stressful maze. Scientists are still figuring out how these findings in animal studies translate to humans. Someday antidepressants may consist of doses of feel-good bacteria tailored to the needs of each person’s particular gut microbiome. In the meantime, the goal is to develop and maintain a gut microbiome that’s robust and diverse. This is achieved by eating a high-fiber, low-sugar diet that’s filled with plant-based and fermented foods. Exercise has been shown to be helpful to the gut microbiome, too.

Break out of depression by focusing on these 4 pillars of health

Depression is a biological, psychological, social, and spiritual condition. While depression includes a depressed mood, it also affects sleep, eating, energy levels, self-image, motivation, concentration, and the experiencing of emotions.  According to researchers, some form of depression affects about 16 million Americans in a given year, and about 25 million Americans take antidepressants regularly. Depression is the way that some people react to chronic stress, loneliness, relationship conflicts, trauma, or other types of environmental stresses. However, it can also be caused or made worse by a consistent lack of structure, purpose, and meaningful activity. Addressing that aspect of depression is the purpose of this article. 

Toxic Pssychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for October 24, 2019

Chemicals released by gut bacteria may help control the brain, mouse study suggests

The more researchers look, the more connections they find between the microbes in our intestines and those in our brain. Gut bacteria appear to influence everything from depression to autism. Now, a study on how mice overcome fear is starting to reveal more about the mysterious link between gut and mind. […] The research used a classic Pavlovian test: Shock a mouse on the foot while playing a tone and the rodent will quickly learn to associate the noise with pain, flinching whenever it hears the sound. But the association doesn’t last forever. After several sessions of hearing the tone but not getting the shock, the mouse will forget the association, and the sound will have no effect. This “forgetting” is important for people as well; it’s impaired, for example, in those with chronic anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. David Artis, an immunologist and microbiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, wondered whether gut bacteria played any role in the learning and forgetting responses. He and colleagues treated mice with antibiotics to totally rid them of the bacteria in their gut, collectively known as the microbiome. They then played a tone and right after gave the mouse a mild shock, doing this multiple times. All of the animals quickly learned to associate the noise with pain, freezing when they heard the sound. But only mice with normal microbiomes eventually forgot the connection: By 3 days, the noise no longer affected them most of them, whereas the antibiotic-treated mice still reacted, the team reports today in Nature.

Even the fetus has gut bacteria

A study in humans and mice demonstrated that a fetus has its own microbiome, or communities of bacteria living in the gut, which are known to play important roles in the immune system and metabolism. Researchers also confirmed that the fetal microbiome is transmitted from the mother. These findings open the door to potential interventions during pregnancy to stimulate the fetal microbiome when a premature birth is expected, to help the baby grow faster and be better equipped to tolerate early life infection risk. The study was published in the journal JCI Insight. “Our study provides strong proof that a complex microbiome is transmitted from the mother to the fetus,” says senior author Patrick Seed […] “Unlike other studies relying only on next generation DNA sequencing, we validated our sequencing results with microscopy and culture techniques, to resolve a decades long controversy about the existence of a fetal microbiome. Now we can pursue ways to boost the development of fetal immune system and metabolism by stimulating mom’s microbiome. Our findings point to many promising opportunities for much earlier intervention to prevent future disease.”

Mindful mornings: third of Americans say meditation essential for ‘perfect’ A.M. routine

 Whatever happened to sleeping in? It turns out the top four ingredients of a “perfect” morning routine are now officially coffee, a “tasty breakfast,”  exercise, and — perhaps surprisingly — meditation. That is, according to a new survey on the typical mornings of 2,000 Americans. The survey, sponsored by kitchen appliances company Thermador, sought to determine and rank Americans’ most popular morning activities. More than half (52%) of respondents say they always make time for coffee, notably more than the 41% who require a tasty breakfast. Meanwhile, 40% say that getting in some exercise is most important, followed by 36% who say they would meditate if given the freedom to plan out their ideal morning. Furthermore, one in three respondents listed meditation as an essential ingredient to the perfect morning. Surprisingly, meditation is now more popular among early risers than even reading the news (31%) or watching the news on TV (33%).

5 survival tips to cope with these uncertain times

A recent study showed that North Americans are becoming less tolerant of uncertainty. The U.S. presidential impeachment inquiry has added another layer of uncertainty to an already unstable situation that includes political polarization and the effects of climate change. As a clinical psychologist in the Washington, D.C. area, I hear people report being stressed, anxious, worried, depressed and angry. Indeed, an American Psychological Association 2017 survey found that 63% of Americans were stressed by “the future of our nation,” and 57% by the “current political climate.” Humans dislike uncertainty in most situations, but some deal with it better than others. Numerous studies link high intolerance of uncertainty to anxiety and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, PTSD and eating disorders. While no one person can reduce the uncertainty of the current political situation, you can learn to decrease intolerance of uncertainty by implementing these scientifically sound strategies.

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 October 23, 2019

Chronotherapy offers promising results in depression

Chronotherapy, a noninvasive, nonpharmacological intervention, appears to be effective for the rapid treatment of depression, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. Clara Humpston, PhD […] and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of treatments involving sleep deprivation, sleep phase shifting, and/or bright light exposure to target depressive symptoms. […] Compared with other therapies alone, such as psychotherapy, antidepressant medication, exercise, or therapy, chronotherapy was more effective at days 5 to 7 posttreatment, and effect sizes immediately after treatment (day 1-2) were very strong. […] The study authors wrote, “Compared with routine treatments such as medication, talking therapy or exercise, chronotherapy has the added benefit of rapid treatment response in addition to a highly favourable side effect profile.”

Half of all commonly used drugs profoundly affect the gut microbiome, warn experts

A new study presented at UEG Week 2019 has found that 18 commonly used drug categories extensively affect the taxonomic structure and metabolic potential of the gut microbiome. Eight different categories of drugs were also found to increase antimicrobial resistance mechanisms in the study participants. […] The changes observed could increase the risk of intestinal infections, obesity and other serious conditions and disorders linked to the gut microbiome. Gut microbiota is the microbe population living in the intestine. It contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, including at least 1000 different species of known bacteria. The human gut’s microbiota population is influenced by a number of different factors, including medication. The microbiome has received increasing attention over the last 15 years with numerous studies reporting changes in the gut microbiota during not only obesity, diabetes, and liver diseases but also cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Scientists train rats to drive tiny cars, may shed light on psychiatric conditions

Rats have mastered the art of driving a tiny car, suggesting their brains are more flexible than we thought. The finding could be used to understand how learning new skills relieves stress and how neurological and psychiatric conditions affect mental capabilities. We know that rodents can learn to recognise objects, press bars and find their way around mazes. These tests are often used to study how brain conditions affect cognitive function, but they only capture a narrow window of animal cognition, says Kelly Lambert at the University of Richmond. Lambert and her colleagues wondered if rats could learn the more sophisticated task of operating a moving vehicle.

“They learned to navigate the car in unique ways and engaged in steering patterns they had never used to eventually arrive at the reward,” says Lambert. […] Researchers could potentially replace traditional maze tests with more complex driving tasks when using rat models to study neuropsychiatric conditions, says Lambert. For example, driving tests could be used to probe the effects of Parkinson’s disease on motor skills and spatial awareness, or the effects of depression on motivation, she says. “If we use more realistic and challenging models, it may provide more meaningful data,” she says. 

A father’s fight for the life of his son – Episode 01

Sitting in the room with Jeff Younger was one of the most humbling times I’ve experienced in the last several years. The most radical in our society have not found themselves content with expanding their own horizons and throwing off truth in regards to their own lives. They are actively experimenting on the children of Texas and the story you will hear today will bring that truth to light. Jeff’s son James is being sexually transitioned by his mother. She began this manipulation when James was 3 and it has continued for 3 years. In 2 years James will begin receiving hormones and he will be castrated in his mid-teens. Yes, this is happening in Texas. Visit:

Escapism: A powerful predictor of internet gaming disorder among video gamers

A new study in Comprehensive Psychiatry, published by Elsevier, is the first to compare professional electronic sport (esport) players with recreational video game players and explores the similarities and differences between what motivates each group. While the two groups are psychosocially different, they found that both esport and recreational gamers run the risk of developing internet gaming disorder when their intense immersion in the activity is tied to escapism. “Previous research has linked escapism to psychiatric distress and gaming disorder in recreational gamers. While esport gamers have many positive motivators like skill development, our study found that excessive immersion by some individuals can indicate mental health issues,” explained investigator Zsolt Demetrovics, PhD […] “Escapism can cause negative outcomes and interfere with an esport gamer’s career just like any sportsman’s career could end with a physical injury or trauma,” noted Professor Demetrovics.

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 October 22, 2019

More outdoors less online activity for kids

Drugs for trans kids a health risk, say doctors

Doctors at a hospital home to Australia’s biggest youth gender clinic have sounded the alarm about “puberty blocker” drugs given to transgender-identifying children as young as 10. In reply to a BBC analysis of the puberty blocker controversy in the British Medical Journal, four doctors from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne have called for “greater vigilance” about trans youth patients losing bone density, with lifelong implications such as osteoporosis. There is growing international disquiet about puberty blockers […] “No one knows what the long term effects of these interventions will be, not only on bone density, but on brain development, cardiovascular risk, cancer risk, and suicide risk.” Western Sydney University professor of paediatrics John Whitehall, a critic of the affirmation model, said he was less worried about bone density than brain development. He cites studies in Scotland and Norway that found sheep given blocker drugs suffered damage to the limbic system of the brain, which is involved in “executive function” or cognitive control of behaviour.

Abandoned Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center still the creepiest

Closed down in 1994, this psychiatric hospital even had its own cemetery. From 1924 until 1994, the Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center on Rt. 22 in Wingdale, NY attempted to cure over 5,000 mentally ill patients. In its prime according to the website,, HVPC was its own self-contained community which included its own bakery, dairy farm, bowling alley, state of the art operating theatre, dental care unit along with its own morgue. 

One of the creepiest aspects of this abandoned psychiatric facility was their own cemetery, called the Gate of Heaven located on the grounds where hospital patients were buried. To protect patient anonymity, the graves were marked with numbers instead of names. According to, the Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center was a pioneer in a new type of mental health therapy developed in 1927 called insulin shock therapy or insulin coma therapy. In 1941, HVPC was also a pioneer in the implementation of a new therapy called Electroconvulsive Therapy.

No link found between youth contact sports and cognitive, mental health problems

Adolescents who play contact sports, including football, are no more likely to experience cognitive impairment, depression or suicidal thoughts in early adulthood than their peers, suggests a new University of Colorado Boulder study of nearly 11,000 youth followed for 14 years. The study, published this month in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, also found that those who play sports are less likely to suffer from mental health issues by their late 20s to early 30s. “There is a common perception that there’s a direct causal link between youth contact sports, head injuries and downstream adverse effects like impaired cognitive ability and mental health,” said lead author Adam Bohr, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology. “We did not find that.”

Dementia and depression following hormone suppression for prostate cancer

Risk for developing dementia and depression is higher among patients who underwent androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for prostate cancer than those who did not undergo ADT (Eur Urol Oncol. 2019 Oct 14. Epub ahead of print). “Previous studies have found an association between [ADT] and an increased risk of dementia and depression in elderly men. This association remains controversial, and little is known about the effects of ADT in younger men,” explained Karl H. Tully, MD […] “In our cohort of young men with PCa [prostate cancer], the receipt of ADT was associated with an increased risk of developing dementia and depression. Long-term use of ADT was associated with the highest risk of neurocognitive outcomes,” concluded Dr Tully and colleagues.

Could elder-care use more spirituality?

Along with screening patients for signs of illness and physical issues, what if elderly care providers also performed a check for spiritual needs? Many nursing home residents rely on spirituality or religion as a way of coping with health and social issues. But patients with advanced diseases say their spiritual needs often aren’t being met, and many of the nurses, social workers and personal care assistants who help them feel unprepared to respond to these needs. […] A collaborative study between Brandeis researchers and Hebrew SeniorLife – a senior care nonprofit based in Boston – found that workshops for clinicians significantly improved their comfort and ability when it comes to identifying and helping to address spiritual needs in patients. Participants learned to provide spiritual support appropriate within their professional roles, and to refer patients to chaplains when an expert level of care is called for in circumstances of spiritual distress or religious need.

Jury rules against dad trying to save his 7-year-old from gender ‘transition’

A jury has ruled against Jeffrey Younger, the father who is trying to protect his seven-year-old son, James, from chemical castration via a gender “transition.” This means James’ mother, Dr. Anne Georgulas, will be able to continue “transitioning” him into “Luna,” and now has full authority to start him on puberty blockers and eventually cross-sex hormones. The jury’s decision likely means that Mr. Younger will be required to “affirm” James as a girl, despite his religious and moral objections, and will also be forced to take a class on transgenderism. […] Expert witnesses testified to a child’s inability to full comprehend the potential side effects of such therapy, such as permanent infertility, inability to ever naturally engage in sexual relations, and a decreased lifespan. […] Dr. Georgulas testified today James and Jude are not actually biologically related to her. They were created through in-vitro fertilization and the couple used an egg donor. 

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 October 21, 2019

Smartphones, Loneliness, and Depression in Teens

New research examines the relationship over time between the use of smartphones, smartphone dependency, loneliness, and depressive symptoms among young adults. The study, recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, was led by Matthew Lapierre, Pengfei Zhao, and Benjamin Custer from the University of Tucson.  The team’s findings suggest that smartphone use may predict smartphone dependency over time, that smartphone dependency may be linked to loneliness and depression over time, and that loneliness may predict later experiences of depression. “In just over a decade, the smartphone has become a technological necessity. The Pew Research Center indicates that 77% of American adults own a smartphone, and that such ownership is nearly universal (95%) for adolescents. Yet, with the growing importance of smartphones in teens’ daily lives, there is some concern that these devices are interfering with their overall health and well-being.”

A man’s gut made him extremely drunk by brewing alcohol when he ate carbs

It began as a simple thumb injury. Then, it spiraled into a dangerous syndrome where a man’s gut essentially became a brewery fermenting its own endless alcohol supply – which is not as fun as it sounds. In a recent case study, doctors recount the strange symptoms of auto-brewery syndrome (ABS): a rarely diagnosed medical condition where simply ingesting carbohydrates can be enough to make you wildly inebriated. Even worse, nobody believes you when you say you haven’t been drinking. At least, that was the case for the unfortunate 46-year-old patient in question, an otherwise healthy man who’d only ever been a light social drinker. His troubles began in 2011, after he completed a course of antibiotics for a thumb injury. Within one week of finishing the meds, he reported experiencing uncharacteristic personality changes, including depression, ‘brain fog’, aggressive behaviour, and memory loss. He was eventually referred to a psychiatrist and given antidepressants, but it was only when the man was pulled over by police one morning in an apparent case of drunk driving that the true nature of his illness started to reveal itself.

Ian’s thoughts: That case is a dramatic example that gut microbiota can affect psychological states, as a growing body of research is suggesting, many examples of which can be found on this news page below.

Forest Bathing: How nature can help you de-stress and get healthier

What if I told you that kicking off your shoes and spending just a few minutes in nature could lower your stress and blood pressure? You don’t need any fancy equipment, medication or confusing techniques. Forest bathing is a simple way to de-stress, find calm and improve your overall health. The best part? It actually works. It’s no secret that in today’s world, stress is a growing problem. In 2017, a Gallup poll reported that the world’s population is more stressed, angry, sad and in pain than ever. A lack of clean drinking water, food insecurity and widespread illness wreaks havoc on the health of populations worldwide. Furthermore, people in every pocket of the globe can find something to worry about — personal relationships, looming deadlines at work and the health of loved ones are just a few of the many things that make us fret everyday.

Questions remain over puberty-blockers after study finds increased suicidal thoughts

Over the past year, there have been mounting criticisms of a study into the effects of puberty-blocking drugs when used to treat young people with gender dysphoria – including concerns raised by Newsnight. The study was carried out at the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids) at London’s Tavistock Clinic – England’s only NHS youth gender clinic – and partly led to the clinic lowering the age at which it offers children puberty blockers. The clinic started recruiting young people to the study in 2011. […] In July, Newsnight reported on early data from the study, which showed some taking the drugs reported an increase in thoughts of suicide and self-harm. These claims, along with others, were passed on to the NHS’s Health Research Authority – which ensures medical studies are ethical and transparent – which prompted the investigation.

Ian’s thoughts: Increased suicidality in subjects given hormone blockers is hardly surprising given that below-normal levels of hormones are associated with depression, be it lower testosterone or lower estrogen. Having hormone levels below normal is recognized as a deleterious medical condition. 

NICE guideline update acknowledges severe antidepressant withdrawal

A new update to the NICE guideline for the treatment of depression suggests that providers inform patients about the potential for long-term, severe withdrawal symptoms when coming off antidepressant medications. The relevant change to the guidelines recommends that psychiatrists and mental health professionals speak to service-users about antidepressant withdrawal: “Explain that whilst the withdrawal symptoms which arise when stopping or reducing antidepressants can be mild and self-limiting, there is substantial variation in people’s experience, with symptoms lasting much longer (sometimes months or more) and being more severe for some patients.” A news article in the scientific journal BMJ provided more detail about the update. According to that article, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published the original depression treatment guidelines in 2009. At that time, they suggested that withdrawal symptoms were “usually mild and self-limiting over about one week.”

The Benefits of Calorie Restriction for Longevity

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for October 19-20, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Oct 16, 2019

Today’s hour was a get together with two very dear friends and colleagues, Pam Popper, PhD my nutritionist and creator of my educational courses and Pinar Miski, MD who teaches my best course live on-line.  There was no agenda except I was thinking about love and how all the worst emotional, psychological and psychiatric “disorders” have deep roots in feeling unworthy of love, unlovable, unloved and hence worthless, and that recovery requires reversing all of that.  From there we went on to chat, as my friends often do, about each other, about what makes us happy,  about what’s good and bad in the world.  In a way that surprised me, we even talked about what people did to find tiny bits of happiness while confined to extermination camps.  This hour was a very uplifting experience that we welcome you to share. It’s a round table of people who care about you and others around the world. 

Study links blood pressure medication to suicide risk, but some are skeptical

Concern about a possible connection between a common type of blood pressure medication and an increased suicide risk has been raised by new research. Scientists have found that patients taking angiotensin receptor blockers, or ARBs, to control their high blood pressure had a greater risk of death by suicide compared to those patients using angiotensin converting enzyme, or ACE, inhibitors, according to the study published in the JAMA Network Open. Researchers preliminary theory is that the mechanisms behind how ARBs work could affect a person’s mental health. “There is reason for some concern,” Muhammad Mamdani, lead researcher and director of the Applied Health Researcher Center of the Lika Shing Knowledge Institute in Toronto told a HealthDay reporter, according to U.S. News. “Now, would I be going en masse and change everybody’s prescriptions? No, not just yet, we should have more work done in this area.”

Experts warn against medical gender ‘transitions’ as dad fights to save 7-year-old from one

In court yesterday, expert witnesses warned against administering puberty blockers or cross-sex hormone therapy to children as Jeffrey Younger fights to save his seven-year-old son from being “transitioned” into a girl. […] Dr. Paul Hruz admonished the jury against the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormonal therapy. Dr. Hruz does not prescribe puberty blockers due to their serious side effects. He does not see how the possible benefits outweigh the significant and serious risks. Puberty blockers shut down the function of the ovaries and testes. The long-term impact of using the drugs has not been studied. They are FDA-approved for precocious puberty, but not for use in treating gender “dysphoria.”  Dr. Hruz testified that the risks of cross-sex hormone therapy include increased risk of stroke and heart attack and other serious health problems. The health impacts are cumulative over time, he said. “Data that has been mentioned about the vast majority of individuals having spontaneous desistance is in the setting where social affirmation was not provided,” Dr. Hruz continued. “Children who are affirmed [in gender confusion] are more likely to start puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.” They then “need to be dependent upon the medical establishment for the rest of their life.” 

Ian’s thoughts: Even more, the puberty blocker Leuprolide Acetate is associated with over 6,000 deaths in the FDA’s Adverse Events Reporting System. Enter its name into the search engine at that link to see for yourself.  

When mad voices are locked out of academia

The voice of the mad in the literature on madness has long struggled to compete with the clamor of the “professional” voice. At least since 1908, when Clifford Whittingham Beers wrote A Mind That Found Itself,1 the consumer/survivor voice has been vetted, restricted and sanitized by the governors of the dominant academic paradigm. Even Beers’ book, widely praised at the time and still in print today, was accepted only because it was a certain type of consumer narrative, not at all representative of the broad diversity of experiences. In 1908, psychiatrist Adolf Meyer praised A Mind That Found Itself, writing that: “[…] it has nothing in common with the frequent attempts at revolutionary disclosures by ex-patients who carry a chip on their shoulder and have had the most detrimental effects on legislation and on the attitude of the legal profession and the public — detrimental to the great majority of patients while perhaps a protection for a few greedy for special rights.”

More than half of older adults use at least one psychoactive medication, study says

Older adults are taking more psychoactive medications than they did in years past, according to researchers who wanted to find out how prevalent psychoactive medication use is in this patient population. “These numbers are significantly higher than previous reports from 1996 for all subclasses of psychoactive medications studied, except tricyclic antidepressants,” said lead author Yara Haddad, PharmD, MPH, BCGP, who is with CDC. […] The findings, which were published in the September–October 2019 issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association (JAPhA), showed that anticonvulsant use increased 450% for older community-dwelling Americans, SSRI use increased 300%, opioid use increased 140%, and benzodiazepine use increased 50% from 1996 to 2013.

What helps with the calming of dementia patients?

Dealing with restlessness, anxiety and aggression, which is often associated with dementia, is one of the most difficult aspects of caring for people with this brain disorder. However, new research suggests that massage and other non-drug treatments may be more effective than medications. Even the mere entrainment of people with dementia in the open air can help, said study author Dr. Jennifer Watt[…] “The conclusion of our study is that non-drug therapy and multi-dimensional care appear to be better than drugs to treat the symptoms of aggression and agitation in people with dementia,” she said. […] Non-drug interventions included environmental change, outdoor activities, recreational therapy, exercise, massage, music therapy, and cognitive stimulation, as well as nurse education and support.

Hart to Heart: New Coastal Georgia program promotes the nature cure for kids

Playing in the woods is good for kids. It’s really just that simple. The new Free Forest School of Coastal Georgia aims to get kids to spend more time playing in nature. The FFS of Coastal Georgia — a chapter of the national nonprofit Free Forest School — started in August and is led by chapter director Whitney McBride-Carlson and three co-directors, Morgan Scarborough, Colleen Haass and Katrina Lloyd. It isn’t a school in the traditional sense. Think more outdoor, unstructured playgroup where caregivers must attend and are encouraged to let their kids take risks and run a little wild. “Our goal is to increase access for all children to explore and play freely in nature,″ McBride-Carlson said. “We hope kids will have the opportunity to slow down, or run wild, and take the lead on their outdoor adventures.”

Nazi soldiers used performance-enhancing ‘super-drug’ in World War II

A shocking documentary is shedding new light on just how far the Nazis and Allied soldiers went in an attempt to win World War II — including the use of performance-enhancing drugs. “Secrets of the Dead: World War Speed,” which airs June 25 on PBS, reveals that Nazi soldiers were given the methamphetamine Pervitin, manufactured by Temmler Pharmaceutical, while American and British forces used everything they could get their hands on, including coffee, Pervitin obtained from Nazi forces and the amphetamine Benzedrine. “In 1940, the British army discovered Pervitin in a downed German plane in the south of England, unlocking the secret to the German troops’ boundless energy, and leading the Allies to consider the same tactic for their troops,” PBS representatives wrote in a statement.

A new theory on depression: It’s a disease caused by the body’s immune system

The idea that depression might be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain – and not a moral failing – grew in popularity with the invention of the drug Prozac in the late ‘80s, and later with the marketing of this and other antidepressants. This viewpoint helped reduce the stigma around mental illness, but did not provide a cure-all. Rates of depression have risen by more than 18 per cent worldwide since 2005, according to the World Health Organization. At the same time, so too has the consumption of antidepressants. Canada has the world’s fourth-highest use of these drugs, according to a recent study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Now a new theory about the cause of depression has emerged: That it is a disease caused by the body’s immune system. The idea is that chronic stress causes hormonal dysregulation, and this leads to depression and other inflammatory disorders, such as arthritis, lupus, heart disease and even some forms of cancer.

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

Whether the drug is a sleeping pill, tranquilizer, stimulant, antidepressant, mood stabilizer, or antipsychotic, Your Drug May Be Your Problem reveals its documented withdrawal symptoms, demonstrating what many doctors don’t know, understand, or consider: withdrawal symptoms often mimic the symptoms for which a person has been medicated in the first place. Armed with this essential background information, readers will then be able to choose for themselves when and how to withdraw from psychiatric drugs.

News & Information for October 18, 2019

Alzheimer’s Disease Grain Brain or Meathead

Study: 95% of baby food tested contain toxic metals

Toxic heavy metals damaging to your baby’s brain development are likely in the baby food you are feeding your infant, according to a new investigation published Thursday. New tests from 168 baby foods from major manufacturers found 95 percent contained lead, 73 percent contained arsenic, 75 percent contained cadmium and 32% contained mercury. “Even in trace amounts, these chemicals found in food are linked to impaired brain development in children and “can erode a child’s IQ.”

This inexpensive action lowers hospital infections and protects against flu season

Harvard Medical School graduate and lecturer, Stephanie Taylor, is something of an Indiana Jones of medicine. She’s a determined scientist who can’t seem to sit still. […] While practicing pediatric oncology at a major teaching hospital, Taylor wondered why so many of her young patients came down with infections and the flu, despite the hospital’s herculean efforts at prevention. […] The one factor most associated with infection was (drum roll): dry air. At low relative humidity, indoor air was strongly associated with higher infection rates. “When we dry the air out, droplets and skin flakes carrying viruses and bacteria are launched into the air, traveling far and over long periods of time. The microbes that survive this launching tend to be the ones that cause healthcare-associated infections,” said Taylor. “Even worse, in addition to this increased exposure to infectious particles, the dry air also harms our natural immune barriers which protect us from infections.”

Not enough sleep disrupts circadian rhythm, leading to potential cognitive problems

  • Two new studies indicate what happens when your natural circadian rhythm is disrupted by not enough sleep.
  • The production of essential proteins is disrupted by a lack of sleep, which could result in cognitive decline.
  • From dementia to an uptick in obesity, sleep deprivation wreaks havoc in your physiology.

Looking beyond drugs to treat aggression in dementia patients

While forgetfulness and cognitive decline are the main defining symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s, the conditions are also often riddled with behavioral issues and aggression, which can be burdensome for both patients and caregivers. Certain drugs, like antipsychotics, can be used to treat these behavioral issues, or at least ease them a bit. But a new meta-analysis examining 163 studies and over 23,000 people with dementia finds that drugs may not be the most effective treatment path. Instead, the authors pinpoint more holistic activities—like spending time outdoors, or getting messages—as being better at alleviating aggression and agitation among patients.

‘Street valium’ deaths prompt public health warning

A drug that’s 10 times more toxic than Valium and is often mixed with powerful opioids has killed at least five people this year in Ontario, and public health officials worry there may be more deaths. Etizolam isn’t approved for sale in North America, but illicit forms of the anti-anxiety medication are popping up in Ontario, both on their own and in combination with other drugs. “We’re quite anxious and concerned about the potential entry of this new drug to the illicit market across the province,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, chief medical officer for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health.

DNA tests for psychiatric drugs are controversial but some insurers cover them

Companies that make genetic tests […] say they can save patients and doctors from prolonged searching for the right medication and save insurance companies from paying for ineffective drugs. But many researchers say the tests don’t have enough evidence backing them up. The Food and Drug Administration has warned that the tests could potentially steer patients towards the wrong medications. Nonetheless, UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest insurer, began covering them October 1 for its 27 million individual and group plans. […] James Potash, the head of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medicine and an expert on psychiatric genetics, says of all the tests claiming to improve depression treatment, GeneSight’s has the most proof. That isn’t saying much, though. “I wouldn’t say there’s no evidence that it works,” he says. “It’s just the evidence at this point is still weak.” […] This skepticism is shared by some insurance companies. “Anthem considers these tests investigational and not medically necessary,” says a spokesman for the carrier, which covers 41 million people. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Program, which covers about two-thirds of government workers and their families, said “there is not enough evidence at this time to determine the effect of genetic testing on health outcomes,” according to a spokeswoman.

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for October 17, 2019

Depression worsens in some with Major Depression when starting antidepressants

Clinical predictors of worsening depression during antidepressant treatment were explored by using our previous multi-center randomized practical trial for patients with major depression. Total of 6.0% or less showed any deterioration of depression, and younger age at onset, of first episode of major depressive disorder, current older age, and larger increase in PHQ-9 score between week 0 and week 3 were significant predictors of worsening depression. A small proportion of patients may experience deterioration of depression during acute phase antidepressant treatment and age at onset at first depressive episode, current age, and early negative response to antidepressants may be useful predictors of subsequent worsening of depression.

Surprising study shows reduced neuronal activity extends life

On Wednesday, scientists reported a driver of aging that, in contrast, even the lead researcher diplomatically calls “counterintuitive”: neuronal activity. […] Lower levels — naturally, or due to drugs that dampen neurons’ activity — increase longevity. The discovery was so surprising that it’s taken two years to be published (in Nature) because of how much additional data the outside scientists reviewing the study requested. Geneticist Bruce Yankner of Harvard Medical School, who led the research, understood their skepticism. “If you say you have a cat in your backyard, people believe you,” he said. “If you say you have a zebra, they want more evidence.” So evidence is what he and his colleagues kept generating, in humans and mice and the roundworm C. elegans that has long been biology’s go-to animal for studies of aging, finally persuading the skeptics. […] earlier studies have hinted that excessive neuronal activity is a factor in dementia, and some Alzheimer’s experts recommend yoga and meditation (both of which can quiet the brain) as possible ways to slow the progression of that life-shortening disease.

Cognitive training does not enhance general cognition

Due to potential theoretical and societal implications, cognitive training has been one of the most influential topics in psychology and neuroscience. The assumption behind cognitive training is that one’s general cognitive ability can be enhanced by practicing cognitive tasks or intellectually demanding activities. The hundreds of studies published so far have provided mixed findings and systematic reviews have reached inconsistent conclusions. To resolve these discrepancies, we carried out several meta-analytic reviews. The results are highly consistent across all the reviewed domains: minimal effect on domain-general cognitive skills. Crucially, the observed between-study variability is accounted for by design quality and statistical artefacts. The cognitive-training program of research has showed no appreciable benefits, and other more plausible practices to enhance cognitive performance should be pursued.

Rationally Speaking Podcast: Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment is one of the most famous psychology experiments in history. For decades, we’ve been told that it proves how regular people easily turn sadistic when they are asked to role play as prison guards. But the story now appears to be mostly fraudulent. Thibault Le Texier is a researcher who dug into the Stanford archives and learned that the “prison guards” were actually told how to behave in order to support the experimenters’ thesis. On this episode, Thibault and Julia discuss his findings, how the experimenters got away with such a significant misrepresentation for so long, and what this whole affair says about the field of psychology.

Early-childhood conduct problems predict economic and political discontent in adulthood

Longstanding interest has been directed toward the etiology of sociopolitical attitudes. Personality traits have been posited as antecedents; however, most work addressing such links has been limited to cross-sectional study designs. The current study used data from two large (both Ns > 8,700), longitudinal cohorts of individuals from the United Kingdom who were parent-assessed on a measure of temperament (assessing anxiety, conduct problems, and hyperactivity) at age 5 or 7 years and on a range of sociopolitical attitudes at age 30 or 33 years. […] Conduct problems predicted lower levels of economic conservatism and higher levels of economic/ political discontent in both cohorts. These associations were robust to the inclusion of sex, parental social class, and childhood general intelligence. […] In summary, the current study examined whether early-life temperament predicted adult sociopolitical attitudes in two large samples of UK individuals. In both cohorts, early-childhood conduct problems were a negative predictor of adult economic and political discontent, and these links were partially mediated by educational attainment and achieved social class. These findings suggest that basic, early-emerging temperament gives rise to sociopolitical attitudes, at least with regard to economic and political discontent, consistent with the model that personality differences shape one’s political orientation.

The Gary Null Show – 10.02.19

Gary Null follows up on environmental topics covered in the last episode posted yesterday (below), including global dimming.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for October 16, 2019

Alert 119: Two Great Guests on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour

Today, two of my favorite people ever, Pinar Miski, MD, and psychiatrist and educator and Pam Popper, PhD nutritionist, educator and healthcare pioneer will join me together on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour at 4-5 pm NY Time live on  We will talk about anything and everything about life.  They are fun and they are insightful.  With them, it’s impossible not to learn something new and something interesting.

Listen in @, Today @ 4 PM, NY Time

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

Or listen to the archives @

Changing your diet can help tamp down depression, boost mood

There’s fresh evidence that eating a healthy diet, one that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and limits highly processed foods, can help reduce symptoms of depression. A randomized controlled trial published in the journal PLOS ONE finds that symptoms of depression dropped significantly among a group of young adults after they followed a Mediterranean-style pattern of eating for three weeks. Participants saw their depression “score” fall from the “moderate” range down to the “normal” range, and they reported lower levels of anxiety and stress too. […] “We were quite surprised by the findings,” researcher Heather Francis, a lecturer in clinical neuropsychology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, told NPR via email. “I think the next step is to demonstrate the physiological mechanism underlying how diet can improve depression symptoms,” Francis said. […] Scientists are learning more about how a poor diet can increase inflammation, and this can be one risk factor for depression. “Highly processed foods increase inflammation,” Francis said. What’s more, “if we don’t consume enough nutrient-dense foods, then this can lead to insufficiencies in nutrients, which also increases inflammation,” she said.

The Benzo Crisis

See youtube channel: Benzodiazepine Information Coalition

The Gary Null Show – 10.01.19

Broccoli sprouts reduce schizophrenia symptoms. Research on herbs. Reasons why Greta Thunberg is a pawn manufactured by PR firms and used by an army of globalist climate change alarmists that seek to gain more financial and political control. They are create an apocalyptic death cult obsesses about the end times.

The common, damaging effects of antipsychotic drugs

Examples of some of the modern antipsychotics are Abilify (aripiprazol), Seroquel (quetiapine), Zyprexa (olanzapine) and Risperdal (risperidone). At first the modern antipsychotics were mainly marketed for mental patients and children seized by Child Protective Services. In the 1990’s they were also marketed for elderly with dementia. In the early 2000’s they were marketed for children, including very young children, and for United States soldiers. The following is a list of some of the kinds of health damage these drugs often cause: […] Remember that psychiatric mental disorders are voted into existence rather than found in patients’ bodies, they are diagnosed strictly by opinion with no scientific or real medical testing, and the psychiatric drugs prescribed for them always cause diseases. Psychiatry is not traditional medicine. It is a strange profession that creates diseases in great abundance, but it never cures diseases.

Mandatory drug-price report reveals Big Pharma’s farcical price-gouging

In 2017, California passed a state law mandating disclosure of wholesale drug prices, something the Big Pharma companies fought tooth and nail. Now, the first of those disclosures has taken place, and it reveals spectacular levels of price-gouging from the pharmaceutical industry’s greediest monopolists: an overall rise of 25.8% in the median drug price since 2017. But the median obscures the incredible increases in the prices at the top end: generic liquid Prozac went up by 667%, generic ADHD meds went up more than 200%, and so on. The companies behind these increases cite nebulous and improbable causes like “market conditions” and (hilariously) “manufacturing costs” for the hikes. PHRMA, the lobbying body for Big Pharma, says there’s nothing to see here, because these prices “do not reflect discounts and rebates for insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.”

Video: Fentanyl, China, and The American Chemical War

Thousands of Americans are being poisoned to death every year by a powerful drug being illegally sent into the country. Potent and inexpensive Fentanyl has taken more and more American lives year after year, and the biggest source is now clear: China. However, it’s not the case that there are simply a few criminals hiding in the shadows producing this drug for profits. Rather, it may be the Chinese leadership itself condoning Fentanyl production and export to the United States, as experts have described China’s actions as a form of chemical warfare. Now, the United States is taking a stand.

Mindfulness may reduce opioid cravings, says study

People suffering from opioid addiction and chronic pain may have fewer cravings and less pain if they use both mindfulness techniques and medication for opioid dependence, according to Rutgers and other researchers. […] The findings showed that those who received methadone and a mindfulness training-based intervention were 1.3 times better at controlling their cravings and had significantly greater improvements in pain, stress, and positive emotions, even though they were aware of more cravings than those who only received standard methadone treatment and counseling. “Methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) has been an effective form of medication treatment for opioid use disorder,” said Associate Professor Nina Cooperman, a clinical psychologist in the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Rutgers. 

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

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

News & Information for October 15, 2019

 Dementia patients do better without drugs

An analysis of studies involving more than 23,000 people with dementia has found outdoor activities and massage are more effective than drugs in treating aggression and agitation. The authors […] have called on policymakers to prioritise non-drug treatments for the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. […] The team found that “outdoor activities” – including gardening – were more effective than anti-psychotic medication for treating physical aggression. Another finding was that massage and touch therapy were better than the patient’s usual care for treating physical agitation. […]  The success of non-drug treatments, the authors believe, may lie in the simple fact that aggression and agitation are not random manifestations of dementia but signal an issue requiring attention. “Nonpharmacologic interventions may be efficacious because behaviour has meaning, which needs to be uncovered through multidisciplinary assessments and care that addresses underlying needs,” they write. […] “These persons and their care partners should consider prioritising nonpharmacologic over pharmacologic interventions for aggression and agitation, given the potential harms associated with certain pharmacologic interventions,” they conclude.

Stress during pregnancy may affect baby’s sex, risk of preterm birth

It’s becoming well established that maternal stress during pregnancy can affect fetal and child development as well as birth outcomes, and a new study from researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and NewYork-Presbyterian now identifies the types of physical and psychological stress that may matter most. The study was published online in the journal PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “The womb is an influential first home, as important as the one a child is raised in, if not more so,” says study leader Catherine Monk, PhD, professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and director of Women’s Mental Health in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. […] The study suggested that pregnant women experiencing physical and psychological stress are less likely to have a boy. On average, around 105 males are born for every 100 female births. But in this study, the sex ratio in the physically and psychologically stressed groups favored girls, with male-to-female ratios of 4:9 and 2:3, respectively.

Drug used to halt puberty in children may cause lasting health problems

For years, Sharissa Derricott, 30, had no idea why her body seemed to be failing. At 21, a surgeon replaced her deteriorated jaw joint. She’s been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition. Her teeth are shedding enamel and cracking. None of it made sense to her until she discovered a community of women online who describe similar symptoms and have one thing in common: All had taken a drug called Lupron. Thousands of parents chose to inject their daughters with the drug, which was approved to shut down puberty in young girls but also is commonly used off-label to help short kids grow taller. […] Women who used Lupron a decade or more ago to delay puberty or grow taller described the short-term side effects listed on the pediatric label: pain at the injection site, mood swings, and headaches. Yet they also described conditions that usually affect people much later in life. […] “It just feels like I’m being punished for basically being experimented on when I was a child,” said Derricott, of Lawton, Okla. “I’d hate for a child to be put on Lupron, get to my age and go through the things I have been through.”

Feeling stressed? Overloaded? There’s an app to help with that

High levels of work stress have major implications on a person’s daily life leading to job strain, which is associated with worse mental and physical health. To address stress and job strain among professionals at go-go workplaces, researchers examined the effects of a mindfulness meditation program using the Headspace app on smartphones. Headspace is a meditation and sleep app that can have a positive impact on health professionals’ personal and professional lives. AMA members can get a free, two-year subscription to Headspace.  Authors of the study published in Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, “Mindfulness On-The-Go: Effects of a Mindfulness Meditation App on Work Stress and Well-Being,” examined well-being and mood, symptoms of anxiety and depression, job strain and workday blood pressure among healthy employed adults over one working day while using Headspace. […] “Practicing mindfulness for just a few minutes has been shown to reduce your overall perceived stress level and how overwhelmed you feel in the moment,” said co-author of the study Alexandra D. Crosswell, PhD, an assistant professor in the psychiatry department at the University of California, San Francisco.

Increased demand for student mental health care straining university resources, reports say

As a new crop of students enter university, the sense of hope and promise is tangible. While students are at an exciting developmental stage, as a researcher and practising clinical consultant to university student health services, I know that for some students the associated stress and new pressures will become overwhelming. Several authoritative reports from Canada and the United Kingdom have drawn attention to increased demand for student mental health care that is straining university resources. Reports also point out that campus mental health services and initiatives are fragmented and inadequate to address the growing breadth and depth of student mental health need. […] Evidence suggests that not fitting into the predominant demographic at university and constant social media presence may be important psychosocial risk factors associated with mental health problems. Many students experience distress and their ability to cope is overwhelmed.

Monkeys outperform humans on cognitive flexibility, Georgia State study finds

When it comes to being willing to explore more efficient options to solving a problem, monkeys exhibit more cognitive flexibility than humans, according to a study by Georgia State University psychology researchers. “We are a unique species and have various ways in which we are exceptionally different from every other creature on the planet,” said Julia Watzek, a graduate student in psychology at Georgia State. “But we’re also sometimes really dumb.” Watzek was the lead author of a paper published in Nature Scientific Reports illustrating how capuchin and rhesus macaque monkeys were significantly less susceptible than humans to “cognitive set” bias when presented a chance to switch to a more efficient option. The research results supported earlier studies with fellow primates, baboons and chimpanzees, who also showed a greater willingness to use optional shortcuts to earn a treat compared to humans who persisted in using a familiar learned strategy despite its relative inefficiency. “I think we’re less and less surprised when primates outsmart humans sometimes,” Watzek said.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for October 14, 2019

The Real Attention Deficit Disorder

If you’ve spent any time around children, you can probably hear in your mind various versions of pleas for attention. Whether you find it annoying or adorable, you probably don’t criticize the kid for asking. We all take for granted that young humans need attention, even those of us who don’t necessarily want to give it to them. But when it comes to adults, even though nothing has changed in terms of the need, we give each other an almost directly opposite response. I say ‘almost’ because the true opposite would be assuming adults no longer need attention, that attention is like training wheels or Huggies — temporary support as children grow up and learn. […] People seek attention for a reason. And that reason is that, as ugly as we can be to each other, and as alone as we are convinced we would like to be (myself included), I believe the research (here and here and here, as well as a rapidly growing number of other places — including a traditional psychiatrist who talks about our adaptive, biological need for connection, which involves attention from others) that says we actually do need each other, both to develop properly — the brains of children who have been extremely emotionally neglected are smaller than children of the same age who have received appropriate attention and affection — and to remain healthy. The basic need for attention, attachment, affection, does not change just because our bodies do.

A daytime nap may contribute to altered emotional processing in depression

A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that daytime REM sleep influences modulating perception of emotional faces among individuals with depression, which may contribute to the development of altered emotional processing. […] The authors found a significant increase in the intensity rating of angry faces only after a 90-minute REM nap among subjects with MDD. […] The investigators wrote, “This study underlines sleep as a core neurophysiological process exerting a potential influence in the socioaffective-cognitive deficits of depression, and implies that sleep health should be taken into consideration in clinical assessment and therapeutic approaches for social dysfunctions in depressive and potentially other affective disorders.”

Does testosterone affect empathy?

In a milestone study from the University of Pennsylvania, a team of researchers has confirmed that testosterone levels do not affect cognitive empathy, a term used to describe a person’s ability to read and recognise the feelings of another individual. The study was the largest of its kind and challenges the theory that autism reflects a ‘hyper-masculinised brain’ and compromises cognitive empathy. The theory is based largely on the fact that autism is far more common in males than in females, a statistic that led researchers to blame testosterone.   “Of course, the primary suspect when we have something that is sharply differentiated by sex is testosterone,” explains Gideon Nave, leader of the study. […] “Several earlier studies have suggested a connection between testosterone and reduced cognitive empathy, but samples were very small, and it’s very difficult to determine a direct link,” says Amos Nadler, first author of the study. “Our results unequivocally show that there is not a linear causal relation between testosterone exposure and cognitive empathy.”

New drug-pricing data shows stunning hikes—one whopping 667% increase

Pharmaceutical companies continue to raise prices on hundreds of drugs at rates well over that of inflation, according to a newly released report on drug-pricing data. The data was made public thanks to a mandate from a California transparency law passed in 2017. Under the law, drug makers are required to report their price increases quarterly. This is the first report from the law and includes data on drugs that had price increases of 16% or more over their January 2017 prices. The hikes in these cases are to the wholesale acquisition cost, which is the list price for wholesalers—they may not reflect how much patients will pay out of pocket. Still, they can add to overall healthcare spending and drive up the costs of insurance.

Prevalence of potentially inappropriate medication use in older drivers

Researchers examined a geographically diverse, community-dwelling sample of 2,949 older drivers, to determine the prevalence as well as correlates of Potentially Inappropriate Medication (PIM) use in these individuals. They used baseline data from the “brown-bag” review of medications for participants of the Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers study, and to this, they applied the American Geriatrics Society 2015 Beers Criteria. Findings revealed the use of PIM was prevalent in approximately one in five older drivers. Medications that impair driving ability and increase crash risk were found as commonly used PIMs. Benzodiazepines constituted the most commonly used therapeutic category of PIM, followed by nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics, antidepressants, and first-generation antihistamines. 

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

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

News & Information for October 12-13, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – October 9, 2019

My guest today is Jeanne Stolzer PhD, a scientist and a friend from whom I always learn something new.  I guarantee that you will have new important insights into life if you listen to this amazing interview with Jeanne.  It’s about what it means to be a human mammal whose evolution has made our success and well-being dependent upon close nurturing from a nursing mother (yes, a nursing mother, not a nondescript nurturer), with a close attachment to her for months and years.  Here is a political fact:  free government nurseries that are being pushed are not the answer for children.  The answer, if it comes from the government, needs to be financial support for extensive maternal leave.  Our children need mothers and without that they end up with diagnoses and drugs both psychiatric and medical. Jeanne graphically describes, backed by research, the necessity of a child’s immersion in both its relationship with its mother and with nature. Then, throughout life as adults, we all need strong attachments of friendship and love to other human beings and to nature.  Nurturing cures! Nature cures!  Listen to this hour about what we humans really need and have needed throughout our millions of years as mammals leading up to our current status as homo sapiens.  Be homo sapiens—be wise about our lives and learn from this wonderful conversation with Jeanne Stolzer.

Podcast: Why kindness is key to improved wellbeing

Can kindness, love and a strong sense of community actually make you healthier and happier? Research says that it does. A 1978 study looking at the link between high cholesterol and heart health in rabbits determined that kindness made the difference between a healthy heart and a heart attack. Kelli Harding, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, revisits that research and other ground-breaking discoveries in her new book, The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness. She joined the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on Sirius XM to talk about the intangible factors behind good health and how a little kindness can go a long way. 

The most important factor for wellness is not food, exercise, or time management

[B]ack in the 1970s when scientists gave a group of genetically identical rabbits the same unhealthy, high-fat diet to see how it affected their hearts, they noticed that some of the rabbits were doing surprisingly well despite their gross diet. The difference couldn’t be their food or their genes, as those were carefully controlled to be the same. So what was the magic factor protecting some of the rabbits?  “They looked around and realized what was different about that one group is that there was a researcher that wasn’t just giving the rabbits kibbles. She was actually picking them up. She was petting them. She was talking to them. She was giving them love and kindness,” says Harding in a Knowledge@Wharton interview. That’s why her new book on the under-appreciated role of kindness in wellness is titled The Rabbit Effect.   What’s true for bunnies is true for humans. Whether you live a long, healthy, happy life or a short, stunted one has a great deal to do with whether the world metaphorically picks you up and cuddles you or just hands you kibbles through the door of your cage.  “We spend a fortune on medical care in this country — far more than other countries per capita. But we’re not getting the health results we want … it’s probably because we’re really doubling down on the medical care and not investing in our social world the way that we could,” Harding argues. 

Antidepressants can make menopause symptoms worse: study

Hot news flash: Doctors are incorrectly prescribing antidepressants to women going through menopause. A new study released Thursday found that over a third of women who consult with their general physician about menopause symptoms are being offered anxiety and depression medications, despite the fact that 80 percent of those women voiced concerns that the recommendation was “inappropriate.” […] Newson told the outlet, “Menopause guidelines are very clear that antidepressants should not be given first line for low mood associated with the menopause because there is no evidence that they will help,” adding that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the only research-backed treatment for depression due to perimenopause.

Fitness blogger celebrates 3 years without Adderall 

A health and fitness vlogger has admitted to faking workouts after becoming addicted to a prescription stimulant which “ruined” her life.[…] “On Adderall I would hardly sleep. I would be up all night staring at the ceiling. Sometimes I would have a few glasses of wine just to get to sleep,” she said. “I was always constipated. Sometimes I wouldn’t have a bowel movement for up to two weeks at a time. I wasn’t focused on my family in any way,” Beeman continued. “When I was on Adderall I was selfish. I was just living my life and I wasn’t present for my children. I wouldn’t spend time with them. I feel like I’ve missed a lot of memories with my youngest one. I became obsessed with my business,” she went on. “I felt like I was being really productive but in reality I probably was just a tornado. I would jump from task to task maniacally.”

How to get help if you’re hooked on antidepressants: GPs must now warn people they face MONTHS of withdrawal symptoms 

Doctors have been told they must warn millions of people on antidepressants that they could endure months – or longer – of severe withdrawal symptoms if they come off the pills. Official guidance, issued to GPs in England and Wales, has been quietly updated amid growing concern about the side effects of common drugs used to tackle anxiety and depression. […] When it comes to reducing or stopping antidepressants, slow and steady is key. Patients should first speak to their doctor – something that is emphasised in the updated NICE guidance. […] ‘Taking up meditation, mindfulness, CBT, and other psychological techniques, could all help.’ Dr Persaud says that symptoms such as headaches can be managed with paracetamol, but warns patients should avoid taking this every day, for weeks on end. ‘If tapering is not working for you and you are getting really bad withdrawal symptoms, it is much better to ask for a referral to a specialist psychiatrist than to stick with your GP,’ he says.

Reflections Of Ourselves: Dogs Mirror Their Owner’s Stress, Study Finds

Is there anything quite like the bond between a dog and its caregiver? Canines usually become incredibly attached to their human companions, so much so that it feels like their entire world revolves around their owners. Now, a new study conducted at Linköping University in Sweden finds that dogs even take on the stress levels of their owners. That’s right, if you’re feeling particularly stressed out, there is a good chance your pup is feeling the same way. The study’s authors considered the possibility that the relationship works the other way; humans take on the stress levels of their dogs, but they do not believe this is the case. […] “We found that the levels of long-term cortisol in the dog and its owner were synchronized, such that owners with high cortisol levels have dogs with high cortisol levels, while owners with low cortisol levels have dogs with low levels”, says principal study author Dr. Ann-Sofie Sundman in a university release.

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 October 11, 2019

Antidepressants can cause severe side effects lasting months, health bosses admit

Antidepressants can cause severe side effects lasting for months, health guidelines have acknowledged for the first time. The NHS watchdog NICE has re-written advice on how doctors should treat adult depression, making it clear that coming off the pills can cause long-lasting symptoms. In a move campaigners hope will significantly reduce the over-use of antidepressants, the official body said all patients should be warned of the risks when they start on the medication. The change follows a two-year Daily Mail campaign raising awareness of the side effects of withdrawing from the drugs. For years health officials have played down the difficulty.  […] The Royal College of Psychiatrists paved the way for the change earlier this year when they published a ‘position statement’ accepting that some patients get protracted side effects coming off the drugs. […] ‘Now severe and protracted withdrawal has been officially recognised, we must never again misdiagnose withdrawal as relapse or deny the patient is in severe pain. ‘We must also now press ahead with withdrawal services and a helpline for those who have become dependent on these and other prescribed drugs.’

Women diagnosed with dementia late because they’re better at some memory tests, study says

Doctors may be not be diagnosing women as early as men with brain problems associated with early signs of dementia because of how well women typically perform on simple memory tests, a study published Wednesday suggests. Women generally perform better on verbal memory tests, according to the study published in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology. So when these common tests are used to diagnose mild cognitive impairment, women may be under-diagnosed or diagnosed too late while men may be over-diagnosed or diagnosed too early, the study found. “If women are inaccurately identified as having no problems with memory and thinking skills when they actually have mild cognitive impairment, then treatments are not being started and they and their families are not planning ahead for their care or their financial or legal situations,” study author Erin E. Sundermann […] “For men who are inaccurately diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, they can be exposed to unneeded medications along with undue stress for them and their families,” she added.

Have Red and Processed Meat Been Vindicated?

Hold the Prozac and pass the poop pills? Fecal transplant studies dig deep

A Calgary psychiatry professor and department head is leading one of two Canadian studies looking at potential benefits of, well, No. 2. “You have more serotonin receptors in your gastrointestinal system than in your brain,” Dr. Valerie Taylor told The Homestretch. “We have assumed it’s a brain illness because that’s where we think emotion is regulated, but it may be much more complicated than that.” Two studies, one in Toronto and one in Calgary, are taking different approaches to the question, ‘Can someone else’s poo in your system improve your mental health?’ […] The basis of the study is animal research. Researchers found that giving mice poo from depressed people, in effect, transferred those symptoms to the mouse. Ditto with poop from people with anxiety and autism. “It is starting to illustrate there is some causality. You can transfer some of these illnesses, so we are hoping you can also transfer wellness,” Taylor said. […] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration halted clinical trials this summer until after two patients developed severe infections from transplants with drug-resistant bacteria, The New York Times reported in June. One patient died.

How and why to find a hobby

Let’s start with some science. A large body of research suggests that how you spend leisure time matters to your health, and that your hobbies are good for you in many ways. […] Lower stress. A large body of research shows that leisure activities can help reduce stress. The Pittsburgh study showed that people who took part in a lot of enjoyable activities dealt better with stressful life events. People who scored high on the enjoyable activities test showed lower levels of negative moods and depression, and higher positive attitudes than their low-scoring counterparts. Happiness. People who said they participated often in enjoyable activities also had greater life satisfaction and felt their lives had a greater sense of purpose and meaning. More friends. Notably, spending more time on hobbies and leisure pursuits was associated with having a larger and more diverse social network. And we know that a strong social network is a key factor in healthy aging.

Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and the Psychosis Continuum

Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (BD) share elements that can sometimes be difficult to distinguish. Both are characterized by psychosis, but in schizophrenia, auditory hallucinations are more common, whereas in BD, grandiosity and excitement are more prevalent. While paranoia can be present in both conditions, it is more systematic in schizophrenia. Moreover, negative symptoms and cognitive dysfunction are core psychopathologies of schizophrenia, in contrast to BD, in which mood lability and affective cycling dominate.1 These distinctions are crucial because early differential diagnosis is important for appropriate treatment.2,3 […] In conclusion, it appears that “a simple binary classification of these disorders represents an oversimplification and it may be more apposite to think in terms of genetic influences on six continuous symptom dimensions: neurobiological, cognitive, positive, negative, depressive and manic symptoms.”7 Indeed, schizophrenia and BD might be seen as a single “spectrum disorder,” akin to autism.13

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for October 10, 2019

 Diet could improve depression symptoms in three weeks, study finds

The randomised controlled study, published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday, followed 76 Australian adults aged between 17 and 35 with moderate-to-severe depression symptoms and a diet high in processed foods and sugar. […] After the three weeks, those in the intervention group reported significantly reduced symptoms of depression (dropping from clinical depression scores of 21 to an average score of 14.62, which is within the “normal” range) as well as lower levels of stress and anxiety. The control group did not experience any change in their symptoms. At a three-month follow-up, those who had maintained the diet also maintained the elevated mood. […] “Part of the reason we suspect diet is involved in depression symptoms is that depression is associated with chronic inflammation,” explained lead author, Dr Heather Francis from Macquarie University. Previous research has found inflammation reduction takes two-to-four weeks. “Poor diet can increase inflammation … and on the flip side, that a healthy diet can reduce inflammation.” […] “They’re also concordant with our recent meta-analysis that shows that dietary interventions improve depressive symptoms in many different patient populations,” Jacka says. “It also provides further support for the strong relationship between diet quality and mental health in adolescents that seems to be independent of family functioning, socioeconomic factors, adolescent dieting behaviours, and many other explanatory factors.”

Nervous Nation: 1 in 5 Americans believe they have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder

 Anxiety has always been an uncomfortable fact of life. Even the calmest of individuals experience the occasional nervous moment, but is anxiety on the rise in modern society? According to a new survey of 2,000 Americans, the answer is a resounding yes. A shocking one in five respondents say they feel anxious so often that they actually believe they are dealing with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder. The survey, put together by CBD company Endoca, polled Americans on their day-to-day anxious feelings and discovered that the average American experiences five anxious moments every day. Interestingly, these anxious moments often lead to feelings of self-consciousness as well; 43% of respondents say they’ve been overwhelmed by their anxiety, which then causes them to feel embarrassed. In fact, almost three quarters of respondents say they are embarrassed after every single anxious moment.

Menopausal women wrongly prescribed antidepressants get worse, warn experts

Women going through the menopause are being wrongly prescribed antidepressants which are making their symptoms worse and destroying their confidence, experts have warned. New research has found over a third of women going to their GP with symptoms of the menopause are being offered antidepressants. Some 80 per cent of those women said they felt antidepressants were an “inappropriate” treatment for the symptoms they are suffering. […] Maryon Stewart, a women’s health expert who conducted the poll, said the issue of menopausal women being inappropriately prescribed antidepressants was “worrying on a number of levels” and “quite frankly insulting.” She added: “It is not a solution, it is not going to help their self-esteem or their relationships. In some cases, it can make them feel worse. We are constantly inundated with women who are suffering unbelievably who are not getting any effective help. They are not mentally ill, antidepressants are not appropriate.”

Jonathan Haidt on impact of social media on youth

Starting @ 8 minutes, American social psychologist Jonathan Haidt joins the Prospect podcast to discuss political anger on both sides of the Atlantic, from Boris Johnson’s discussion of Brexit to the American 2020 election. Plus: how the internet is affecting today’s younger generations.

The AAP sticks to drugging kids labeled “ADHD,” but many experts disagree

When children are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, stimulant medications like Ritalin are usually the first line of treatment. Doctors [the American Academy of Pediatrics] recently issued new guidelines that mostly uphold the role of those medications, but many experts argue that other effective behavioral treatment methods are being ignored. […] “I think it’s a huge disservice to not just the children that we’re trying to treat but also to the parent who would prefer to have behavioral interventions,” says Erika Coles, a psychologist and clinical director of the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University. Her work examines behavioral treatments like parent training and school support. A 2016 study found that giving kids, parents and teachers an eight-week course in behavioral techniques before starting medications led to fewer symptoms. Another study by Coles and other researchers published this summer found that a similar program of interventions actually reduced the amount of medication needed by many kids with ADHD.  And 37% of kids getting that training didn’t need medications at all. “So we really need to think about a more global treatment perspective when it comes to treating kids with ADHD, and behavioral treatments do a much better job of addressing the domains of impairment that kids with ADHD experience,” Coles says.

People love dogs more than humans: study

A study by researchers at Northeastern University and the University of Colorado aimed to solve the question of why people seemed more enraged by headlines of animals in danger than they did when they saw humans were the ones at risk. When 256 students were asked to react to fake news reports, the study showed that more people felt empathy towards puppies than human children. […] Additionally, when UK charity Harrison’s Fund conducted two test advertisements – one containing a photo of a dog and one of a human boy – participants were much more willing to interact with the pooch than the child. And if you needed even more proof that dogs rule the world, research by psychologist Dr. Chris Blazina found that men often feel more secure in their relationships with their pups than they do with their significant others. When men were asked to compare their relationship with their furry friends to that of the people closest to them, many admitted that their dog/owner relationship was much more stable than their day-to-day human interactions.

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

Whether the drug is a sleeping pill, tranquilizer, stimulant, antidepressant, mood stabilizer, or antipsychotic, Your Drug May Be Your Problem reveals its documented withdrawal symptoms, demonstrating what many doctors don’t know, understand, or consider: withdrawal symptoms often mimic the symptoms for which a person has been medicated in the first place. Armed with this essential background information, readers will then be able to choose for themselves when and how to withdraw from psychiatric drugs.

News & Information for October 9, 2019

★ Johnson & Johnson hit with $8 Billion jury verdict in Risperdal gynecomastia suit

A Philadelphia jury on Tuesday hit Johnson & Johnson with an $8 billion verdict over its marketing of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal, siding with a Maryland man who argued that the health care giant downplayed risks that the drug could lead to breast growth in boys. The verdict in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas was the first to award punitive damages against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, said Thomas R. Kline, a lawyer who is part of a legal team representing the man and more than 10,000 people in similar lawsuits. Compensatory damages of $680,000 were already awarded in the case in March 2016. […] “This jury resoundingly told Johnson & Johnson that its actions were deliberate and malicious,” Mr. Murray’s lawyers, Mr. Kline and Jason Itkin, said in a statement Tuesday. “The conduct that the jury saw in the courtroom was clear and convincing that J&J disregarded the safety of the most vulnerable of children. This is an important moment, not only for this litigation, but for J&J, which is a company that has lost its way.”

★ Antipsychotic drugs linked to more hospitalizations among dementia patients

A new study finds that people with dementia who were using antipsychotic drugs were more likely to spend time in the hospital than those who weren’t on antipsychotics. […] dementia patients who used antipsychotics were in the hospital for about 52 days on average, compared to 35 days for those who didn’t use the drugs […] People using the drugs had, on average, experienced about 11 more days in the hospital compared to those not using them. “Previous studies have not investigated the risk of hospitalization among persons with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) nor the accumulation of hospital days associated with antipsychotic use, although antipsychotics are commonly used in this group,” […] antipsychotic use in dementia treatment has had a somewhat troubled past. One 2018 report found that nursing homes were misusing antipsychotics in an attempt to deal with disruptive behavior and symptoms among patients. The drugs have also been associated with severe side effects, including an increased risk of infections, falls, blood clots and stroke.

Dancing for happiness: how movement affects our mood

Have you ever noticed that after a particularly hard day, turning on your favorite song and dancing around a bit can do wonders to improve your mood? Music and moving to a rhythm have a profound impact on our state of mind. For centuries, everyone from philosophers to psychologists have studied and praised the effects of dancing. Nietzsche, albeit a rather controversial figure, once said, “We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.” […] A 2012 study conducted at Australia’s University of New England, researchers found that participants who learned to tango reported lower levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. In some cases, dance was more effective at lowering anxiety than meditation. Further research by the university discovered that the pleasure circuits in the brain had been triggered by music and movement.

Dog ownership associated with longer life, especially among heart attack and stroke survivors

Dog ownership may be associated with longer life and better cardiovascular outcomes, especially for heart attack and stroke survivors who live alone, according to a new study and a separate meta-analysis published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association. […] Researchers found that compared to non-owners, dog owners experienced a:

  • 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality;
  • 65% reduced risk of mortality after heart attack; and
  • 31% reduced risk of mortality due to cardiovascular-related issues.

“Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels and better cholesterol profile in previous reports,” said Caroline Kramer, M.D. Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto and an Endocrinologist and Clinician scientist at Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes at Mount Sinai Hospital, part of Sinai Health System. “As such, the findings that people who owned dogs lived longer and their risk for cardiovascular death was also lower are somewhat expected.”

Our cats do love us! Study finds cats form deep bonds with their caretakers

Good news for cat lovers and owners. A new study found that cats do form bonds with caretakers, the same ways dogs and babies do. Cat behavior was studied in both kittens and adult cats. In a study conducted by Oregon State University, 70 kittens were put into a room with their owners. They were then separated and when they owners came back in, close to 64% of the kittens displayed attachment to their owners. Known as “secure attachment,” these cats create bonds with their owners. The study found that we have been underestimating cats social abilities and interactions. […] Cats were evaluated in a similar way that dogs, humans and primates are. The “Secure Base Test,” as described above is also used to check attachment in dogs and primates. Attachment was also present in adult cats, with a 65% secure rate. Behaviors like separation distress, reunion behavior and proximity seeking were all present in cats. This is increased flexibility and depth of behavior from cats that was previously studied or thought to be present.

The rise of psychobiotics? Probiotics could be game changers for mental illness

No area of psychiatry is as hot, or controversial today as the idea of manipulating the gut to alter the mind. The trillions of bacteria living in the human gut have been shown to play a crucial role in gut-brain communication, researchers write in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. The hope is that enhancing good gut microbes — whether with probiotics, fecal transplants or capsules filled with donor stool, or by adding sauerkraut or other fermented foods to the diet — may be the answer to intractable depression, the kind conventional treatments can’t touch. It could also fundamentally alter the way we conceptualize mental illness. “We now think mental illness is essentially a brain illness, and it may be that it isn’t,” Taylor said. Gastro-intestinal problems are common among people with depression and anxiety, and studies suggest people with depression have a different gut flora than people without. 

How to improve communication and closeness

It’s a common complaint in relationships—the “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it” argument. Whether among parent and teen, boss and employee, or spouse and spouse, tone of voice matters, and can make or break how a request or statement is perceived. In fact, a recent study published last month in the journal Developmental Psychology examined how 1000 adolescents responded to tone of voice when receiving instructions from their mothers (Weinstein et al., 2019). Results showed that teens were significantly more likely to engage with instructions (e.g. “You will read this book tonight”) that conveyed a sense of encouragement and support for autonomy, as opposed to those that were domineering or even neutral—even when the exact same words were used. […] However, the study’s researchers found that tone of voice was not, in fact, so insignificant. Teens tended to report less interpersonal closeness to their mothers after hearing controlling tones and more interpersonal closeness after autonomy-supportive tones. Although these findings emerged in the context of a simulated environment, the authors suggested that “the effects would be even more robust in the context of meaningful, live, interpersonal interaction.”

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 October 8, 2019

Constant comparison: passive Facebook users at greater risk of depression

Constantly seeing peers and friends in especially glamorous and happy settings may cause low self-esteem and depression among people who don’t actively post on the social media platform, but still log on occasionally to see what their friends are up to. According to researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) in Germany, passive Facebook users who tend to compare themselves to others end up feeling like everyone is better than them, which can subsequently lead to feelings of depression. […] “It was shown that being confronted by social information on the Internet – which is selective and only positive and favorable, whether on Facebook and on employee websites – leads to lower self-esteem,” says Dr. Ozimek in a media release. […] “Overall, we were able to show that it is not the use of social networks that generally and directly leads to or is related to depression, but that certain preconditions and a particular type of use increase the risk of depressive tendencies,” Dr. Ozimek concludes. “It is important that this impression that everyone else is better off can be an absolute fallacy. In fact, very few people post on social media about negative experiences. However, the fact that we are flooded with these positive experiences on the Internet gives us a completely different impression.”

How to Practice Mindfulness – Southern New Hampshire University

If you’re one of the 40 million adults that suffer from stress and anxiety per year, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) promotes mindfulness as a technique for growth, self-discovery and success. […] mindfulness research shows that practicing mindfulness can reduce anxiety and depression by concentrating on mindful well-being. A study conducted by Daphne Davis and Jeffrey Hayes at Pennsylvania State University to research the benefits of mindfulness to consider it as a successful treatment. Some of the Davis and Hayes’ findings include:

  1. Emotional Regulation 
    There’s evidence that mindfulness helps develop effective emotional regulation in the brain. Davis and Hayes found mindfulness meditation can promote awareness of your thoughts and enhance your focus to promote healthy emotional regulation. 
  2. Positive Interpersonal Behavior
    The study showed that mindfulness can help improve relationships because it helps you learn how to respond better to stress. You can better communicate your feelings and emotions to show more compassion for others. 
  3. Increase Response Flexibility
    Mindfulness meditation enables people to become less reactive and have greater cognitive flexibility. During meditation, subjects from this study showed a higher ability to self-observe to create more adaptive responses to stressful or negative situations.
  4. Self-insight, Morality and Intuition 
    According to the study, mindfulness can enhance functions associated with the middle prefrontal lobe area of the brain, which control self-insight (in other words how you see yourself), as well as morality and intuition. Balancing this part of the brain gave subjects in the study the ability to look deeper into themselves to find their true values.

[…] As a practice that has been around for centuries, mindfulness has been proven as a tool to reduce stress. It can be a powerful way to strengthen your mind, body and spirit.

There’s a very scientific reason why helping people feels so good

There’s a buzz that accompanies doing good; a feeling of warmth and levity that spreads through you whenever you help someone. This can be on the smallest scale, like providing a lost tourist with some directions for their destination. Or it can be on a much bigger platform, say, helping a friend move house or supporting a family member through a task they find difficult. Upon completion of your helping hand, even if you feel physically tired or worn out, you might find yourself feeling more emotionally or psychologically fulfilled. There’s a scientific reason why this feels so good. A 2019 study from the University of Oulu in Finland on the subject of compassion – one of the first major studies on the topic – has found that greater levels of compassion will lead to greater wellbeing, more happiness, a positive mood and social connections and, overall, an increased satisfaction in life.

Why living by the ocean is beneficial for mental health

According to a recent study published by the University of Exeter in the journal Health and Place, coastal living has a positive relationship affect on mental health. Researchers collected data from 26,000 respondents in England, and compared people’s health to their proximity to the coast (ranging from those within a half mile to the water, and those 30 miles or more out). They discovered that those who lived closest were 22 percent less likely to display symptoms of a mental health disorder than those 30+ miles away. And even more striking: among low-income households, coastal homes were 40 percent less likely to suffer from mental health disorders. The environmental psychologist who led the study, Dr. Jo Garrett, described coastal areas as a “protective zone,” that could level the happiness playing field for households making do with less.

Authors retract paper claiming religious upbringing is linked to less generosity

In 2015, a paper by Jean Decety and co-authors reported that children who were brought up religiously were less generous. The paper received a great deal of attention, and was covered by over 80 media outlets including The Economist, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and Scientific American. As it turned out, however, the paper by Decety was wrong […] the results were due to a coding error. The data had been collected across numerous countries, e.g. United States, Canada, Turkey, etc. and the country information had been coded as “1, 2, 3…” Although Decety’s paper had reported that they had controlled for country, they had accidentally not controlled for each country, but just treated it as a single continuous variable so that, for example “Canada” (coded as 2) was twice the “United States” (coded as 1). Regardless of what one might think about the relative merits and rankings of countries, this is obviously not the right way to analyze data.

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 October 7, 2019

Study: Secret to happiness — drinking eight glasses of water daily?

Who would have thought the secret to happiness would be something as simple as drinking enough water? A new study finds that you’re three times more likely to feel “very happy” if you believe you drink enough water regularly. The study asked participants about their water consumption on a daily basis and overall feelings of happiness. Data was pulled from a survey of 2,000 Americans commissioned by beverage company O. Vine While most doctors recommend drinking at least 64 ounces, or eight eight-ounce glasses, of water per day, the average study participant reported drinking only about five glasses per day. In fact, the average participant incorrectly said that five glasses wasthe daily doctor recommended amount.

Ian’s thoughts: That ‘study’ is a bit shaky on its face, based on a poll by a beverage company. However, it’s worth citing in light of peer-reviewed studies suggesting that drinking sufficient water may reduce depression (see) and make you happier (see).  

Research suggests taking up baking can help you feel better

If you’ve been trying to get a little more mindfulness in your life, whipping up a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies might be exactly what you need. Several studies suggest that creative activities like baking can deliver mindfulness benefits. For example:

  • A 2016 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that practicing simple creative acts on a regular basis can lead to more positive psychological functioning.
  • An April 2018 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that young adults who engaged in “Maker activities,” such as cooking, baking, and gardening, was linked to positive subjective well-being. Participants said the most important reasons for engaging in such activities were mood repair, socializing, and staying present-focused.
  • Another study in the Journal of Palliative Medicine found that “culinary therapy” can even be an effective tool in grief management.

“Many people find joy and calmness in baking, because it is very tactile and typically commands your full attention, primarily when you use repetitive motions with your hands,” says corporate mentor and coach Kimberly Lou, author of Becoming Who You’re Meant to Be. “Because of this, it can have a therapeutic effect that calms the central nervous system and connects to the part of the brain that accesses creativity and imagination,” she says. In addition, Lou says the texture, smell, and taste of the ingredients stimulate the senses, tapping into the pleasure senses of the brain.

Five relaxation hacks that work as well as meditation

It took decades for modern society to accept the idea that closing your eyes and breathing deeply could change your life. Today, meditation is considered a mainstream wellness practice. Between 2012 and 2017, the number of meditating Americans rose from 4% to 14%, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s likely due in part because the practice is now hailed as a remedy for stress, anxiety, depression, pain, insomnia, and more. But for some people, meditation isn’t so simple. The sitting still, ignoring mental chatter, and being nonjudgmental can take more time to cultivate than some are willing to commit. Others may not feel fulfilled by the practice, or they find it boring. […] Research shows that meditation can increase the quality of life of longtime meditators due to the practice’s ability to change the brain’s structure. The good news for people who feel less inspired by the practice is that research also shows there are other ways to reshape the mind in positive ways. Here are some science-backed suggestions.

Psychological features of extreme political ideologies

In this article, we examine psychological features of extreme political ideologies. In what ways are political left- and right-wing extremists similar to one another and different from moderates? We propose and review four interrelated propositions that explain adherence to extreme political ideologies from a psychological perspective. We argue that (a) psychological distress stimulates adopting an extreme ideological outlook; (b) extreme ideologies are characterized by a relatively simplistic, black-and-white perception of the social world; (c) because of such mental simplicity, political extremists are overconfident in their judgments; and (d) political extremists are less tolerant of different groups and opinions than political moderates. In closing, we discuss how these psychological features of political extremists increase the likelihood of conflict among groups in society. […] To conclude, although there are important psychological differences between people with left-wing and people with right-wing ideologies, there are also substantial similarities between left- and right-wing extremists that differentiate them from political moderates. The features presented here provide a psychological perspective on political extremism and contribute to a more complete understanding of how political ideology predicts human cognition, emotion, and behavior.

UK: Pensioners given anti-depressants doubles, amid warnings they ‘may not need them’

The number of over-65s taking anti-depressants has doubled in two decades, amid warnings the elderly are being given pills they don’t need. Charities have called the rise “alarming”, and raised concerns that pills are frequently “doled out” when other “extremely effective” treatments are not being offered. The increase is even more prominent among care home residents, with the number taking the medication four times higher over the period. Comparing data from the early 1990s against the late 2000s researchers, from the University of East Anglia, found the percentage of over-65s on antidepressants increased from 4.2 to 10.7 percent. But the study, published today (MON) in the British Journal of Psychiatry, also found the number of eldery people diagnosed with depression remained consistent, from 7.9 percent in between 1990 and 1993, to 6.8 percent between 2008 and 2011.

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 October 5-6, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Open Mic & New Revelation

Today’s open mic day (the last Wednesday of each month) begins with me announcing and discussing a new revelation about pharmaceutical evil.   In in 1994, I was the scientific expert for all the combined 160 product liability suits against El Lilly alleging that Prozac was causing mayhem, mania, violence and suicide.   In retrospect, I was the only professional in the world standing up against the growing tidal wave of SSRI antidepressants.   In this hour of my show, I explain how Eli Lilly simultaneously fixed the trial and tried to destroy my credibility.   I managed to survive despite the fix which involved betrayal by the lawyers who hired me as well as the company itself.  Before the the fix was discovered many months after the trial, it looked like a clean victory for Eli Lilly and opened the floodgates to the new antidepressants which do far more harm than good.  I spend time on this drama because, after two and a half decades, we now know the size of Eli Lilly’s secret payoff to the plaintiffs.  It cost the company a mere 20 million dollars to get returns of multi-billions.

Ultra-Processed Foods Increase Cancer Risk

College students quit Facebook for a week report being less depressed

A study of 1,769 U.S. undergrads found that those who got off Facebook for a week consumed less news, experienced greater wellbeing…and, uh, valued Facebook 20 percent more highly, in monetary terms, than they had before they took their break. The paper is “The economic effects of Facebook,” published this week online in the journal Experimental Economics […] In spring 2017, they surveyed A&M undergrads on how what they think a week of Facebook use is worth. They then randomly assigned them into two groups — one that went off Facebook for a week and one whose Facebook use wasn’t restricted. After that, they asked them to place a monetary value on Facebook again. […] Overall, the effects our study finds on news awareness, news consumption, feelings of depression, and daily activities show that Facebook has significant effects on important aspects of life not directly related to building and supporting social networks.

‘Promising evidence’ shows mindfulness meditation may slow cognitive decline

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is often a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, thus far no effective method of preventing further mental decline in MCI patients has been developed. However, researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center may have found a safe and non-pharmacological treatment that can help people living with the condition: mindfulness meditation. “Until treatment options that can prevent the progression to Alzheimer’s are found, mindfulness meditation may help patients living with MCI,” says Dr. Rebecca Erwin Wells, associate professor of neurology with Wake Forest Baptist Health, in a media release. “Our study showed promising evidence that adults with MCI can learn to practice mindfulness meditation, and by doing so may boost their cognitive reserve. […] While the concept of mindfulness meditation is simple, the practice itself requires complex cognitive processes, discipline and commitment,” Wells explains. “This study suggests that the cognitive impairment in MCI is not prohibitive of what is required to learn this new skill.”

Good relationships with family and laughter are secrets to happiness, study claims

A close-knit family, laughter and a good cup of tea are among the secrets to happiness, according to a new poll. A survey of 2,000 adults found that staying healthy and getting enough sleep are also key ingredients for a good life. It also found that 83 per cent of respondents considered having a good relationship with family and friends to be “vital” to leading a contented existence. However, six in ten said they struggle to see their family as often as they would like. A quarter only managed to catch up with them once every six months or less. […] “It’s interesting to see that our friends, family and wider community all play a key role in our happiness.” She added: “We know it can be hard to maintain these bonds though, especially for older people, which is why we’re holding public events across the country to help people celebrate Silver Sunday.”

Many with schizophrenia doubt overall benefit of antipsychotics

Just half of survey respondents who took oral antipsychotics for schizophrenia thought the medication did more good than harm, according to research presented during a poster session at Psych Congress 2019. “People with schizophrenia experience extensive oral antipsychotic medication side effects, which impact social functioning and treatment adherence,” the poster stated. “Results highlight an unmet need for pharmacologic approaches that reduce bothersome side effects.” […] Among respondents, 56% said they ceased oral antipsychotics at some point; 65% did so because of side effects. The side effects that most often led to oral antipsychotic discontinuation were “feeling like a zombie” (22%), feeling tired or drowsy (21%), and gaining weight (20%).

‘Hundreds’ of young trans people seeking help to return to original sex

The number of young people seeking gender transition is at an all-time high but we hear very little, if anything, about those who may come to regret their decision. There is currently no data to reflect the number who may be unhappy in their new gender or who may opt to detransition to their biological sex. Charlie detransitioned and went public with her story last year – and said she was stunned by the number of people she discovered in a similar position. […] Charlie says she has been contacted by “hundreds” of people seeking help – 30 people alone in her area of Newcastle. “I think some of the common characteristics are that they tend to be around their mid-20s, they’re mostly female and mostly same-sex attracted, and often autistic as well.” […] “For everyone who has gender dysphoria, whether they are trans or not, I want there to be more options for us because I think there is a system of saying, ‘okay here’s your hormones, here’s your surgery, off you go’. I don’t think that’s helpful for anyone.” The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust offers gender identity services for children under 18, with some patients as young as three or four years old. They now have a record number of referrals and see 3,200% more patients than they did 10 years ago – with the increase for girls up by 5,337%.

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for October 4, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – October 2, 2019

A uniquely wonderful show with nutritionist and medical consultant Pam Popper, PhD and a special unexpected call-in by another dear friend, psychiatrist Pinar Miski, MD.   We have a spontaneous, heartfelt three-way conversation about the realities and politics of nutrition, about saving animals from research, about doing our best to improve the world, and how blessed the three of us feel to know and work with one another other.  Also about our upcoming conference November 8-12 in Columbus, Ohio.  An inspiring conversation to remind you that life is worth living and that daring to live honestly is deeply rewarding and even full of fun. 

Clinical trials show antidepressants “not beneficial in the long term” 

It is increasingly common for people to take antidepressant drugs long-term. Recently, a new study aimed to discover whether long-term use was supported by the data from clinical trials of the drugs. The researchers, led by Peter C. Gøtzsche, found that the drugs were not effective for long-term use. According to the researchers, every study they assessed “concluded that the drugs were not beneficial in the long term.” Additionally, the researchers wanted to determine the prevalence of harmful effects after using antidepressants long-term. Unfortunately, what they discovered was that every clinical trial either didn’t report on harm or chose very selective outcome measures which likely concealed the true extent of harmful effects. […] The researchers write that “we do know that short term use of antidepressants can cause irritability, anxiety and panic, emotional flattening, dyskinesias, sexual impairment, and also suicidality and aggression.” Additionally, serious withdrawal effects are increasingly well-documented, can last for months or years, and can also be mistaken for a return of depressive symptoms.

Are antidepressants addictive? This is what patients are telling us

A few years ago, new drugs for depression were hailed as superior and less toxic than the older generation of pills that they replaced. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) like prozac and venlafaxine were thought to produce fewer side effects than older medications like amitriptyline. This sounds good, but history should have warned us to be wary of such claims. Ask the thousands of patients still being weaned off diazepam prescriptions started years ago without being told they would become dependent. The scale of antidepressant prescription is staggering. Seventy million prescriptions were issued last year for the 7 million adults using them. The rapid rise in prescribing is viewed by some as treatment catching up with need, for others this is medicalising problems which have their roots in social problems responsible for the misery and lack of hope that people present to their GP.

It’s not just opioids: What doctors want you to know about benzos

There’s no understating the extent of America’s opioid crisis. In 2017, the same year it became a public health emergency, an estimated 1.7 million people in the US had substance abuse disorders related to prescription opioids. And this year, the National Safety Council found that the odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are greater than those of dying in a car crash. But there’s another prescription drug concern that experts say has grown in the shadow of the opioid epidemic: the rise in use of benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” are a class of medication commonly prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety and insomnia. Even if you don’t recognize the term, chances are you’re familiar with the brand names that fall within this category drugs such as Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Klonopin.

Eleven habits of supremely happy people

We’re always chasing something—be it a promotion, a new car, or a significant other. This leads to the belief that, “When (blank) happens, I’ll finally be happy.” While these major events do make us happy at first, research shows this happiness doesn’t last. A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical. The mistaken notion that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have a name for it: impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is fleeting. Happiness is synthetic—you either create it, or you don’t. Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits. Supremely happy people have honed habits that maintain their happiness day in, day out. Try out their habits, and see what they do for you:

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 October 3, 2019

The International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal

This week on MIA Radio we turn our attention to psychiatric drug withdrawal and in particular the work of the International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal. The Institute recently held a network meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden, where 40 leading experts from around the world came together to discuss the issues of dependence, withdrawal and iatrogenic harm relating to psychiatric drugs. The meeting participants included both professionals and those with lived experience. We chat with IIPDW founder Carina Håkansson and IIPDW Board Member Professor John Read.

Long-term antidepressant use may cause osteoporosis

Aim: The present study aims to employ dental volumetric tomography to examine bone mineral density among men that used antidepressants in the SSRI group for a long time. […] Conclusion: Considering the results of the present study, we established with radiomorphometric methods that the long-term use of antidepressants in the SSRI group created negative effects on bone tissue. Based on the data we examined and the results we established with respect to the low bone density, we suggest that a comparison is necessary with DEXA results for the diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia. We aimed to evaluate the effect of antidepressants on bone tissue by way of DVT and became the first to work on this subject in the field of dentistry. The conduct of more studies of a similar nature and comparisons with DEXA results will offer more data on bone density.

4 out of 5 people on antidepressant drugs are unaware of the side effects

In 2018, Mind ran its annual Big Mental Health Survey, and only 21% of respondents with mental health problems claimed that side effects of their medication had been explained to them. This means that four out of five patients are being left in the dark about side effects. In addition to this, Mind discovered that more than half of respondents, 53% stated that they were not given enough information on the purpose of the medication they had been prescribed. It is clear that there is a lack of communication between GPs to patients when it comes to treating them for mental health issues. Likely, this is due to GPs themselves lacking training in this area. The consequences of failing to educate patients on the medication they are being described are huge. Between 2017 and 2018 a huge 7.2 million people in the UK took antidepressants, that’s roughly one in six people […] Side effects of antidepressants can include severe issues such as suicidal thoughts. Considering the already low mood and the potential suicidal tendency of the person being prescribed psychiatric drugs, it is absolutely paramount that GPs make these potential side effects completely clear to patients.

Victimization in childhood affects depression in adulthood via neuroticism: a path analysis study

Background: Adverse experiences, such as low care, overprotection, or abuse in childhood increase the likelihood of depression via their effects on personality traits. Similarly, being victimized in childhood may affect the likelihood of depression via personality traits. In this case-control study, we hypothesized that being victimized in childhood is associated with depression in adulthood via its effect on neuroticism, and verified this hypothesis using path analysis. […] In conclusion, this study showed that being victimized in childhood, like the experience of childhood abuse or maltreatment by parents, affects the distinction between healthy controls and MDD patients, as well as the severity of depressive symptoms through neuroticism as a mediating factor. Taking these results together with those of previous studies, systematic evaluation of personality traits, such as neuroticism, and childhood stress, such as the experience of being victimized, abused, and parenting, may contribute to the elucidation of the detailed pathology and mechanism of depressive symptoms in adulthood.

Teens taking oral contraceptives may be at increased risk for depressive symptoms

Ever since birth control pills first became available, researchers have been trying to understand the connection between oral contraceptive use and mood. A new study led by investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) and Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands adds important, new information by surveying young women about depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms — such as crying, sleeping excessively, and eating issues — can be far subtler than diagnosed clinical depression. But by surveying a cohort of more than 1,000 women every three years, investigators have amassed a unique trove of data about these subclinical symptoms. In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, investigators report that there was no association between oral contraceptive use and depressive symptom severity in the entire population they studied (ages 16 through 25). However, they found that 16-year-old girls reported higher depressive symptom severity compared with 16-year-old girls not using oral contraceptives.

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 October 2, 2019

Do Vegetarians Have a Higher Risk of Stroke

Pamela Popper: Here’s my review of the article in the British Medical Journal that has many people confused.
Subscribe to Dr. Pam’s weekly newsletter and video clips here!

Antidepressants linked to heightened pregnancy related diabetes risk

Taking antidepressants while expecting a baby is linked to a heightened risk of developing diabetes that is specifically related to pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes, finds research published in the online journal BMJ Open. The risk was greatest among mums to be who were taking venlafaxine, a type of drug known as a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), and amitriptyline, which belongs to an older class of antidepressant, known as tricyclics, the findings indicate. Gestational diabetes affects up to one in five pregnant women worldwide. These pregnancies are prone to complications, such as overweight babies and prolonged labour due to the baby getting stuck in the birth canal. […] Taking any of these drugs [SSRIs] was associated with a 19% heightened risk of being diagnosed with the condition compared with not taking antidepressants during pregnancy. The risk was greatest for two antidepressant drugs, in particular: venlafaxine (27% heightened risk); and amitriptyline (52% heightened risk). What’s more, the risk increased, the longer certain types of antidepressants were taken, specifically SNRIs and tricyclics, singly or when combined.

Study: 3 servings of fruit, 6 servings of vegetables daily may slow memory loss in men

We all know eating fruits and vegetables every day helps ensure a healthy heart. But they also may be essential for a strong brain too. A recent study found that men, in particular, who consume six servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit daily experience less memory loss over time. Researchers followed 27,842 men over the course of 20 years. […] “One of the most important factors in this study is that we were able to research and track such a large group of men over a 20-year period of time, allowing for very telling results,” says study author Changzheng Yuan, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a release by the American Academy of Neurology. […] The study found that the group of men who ate six servings of vegetables per day were 34 percent less likely to have poor thinking skills than the group of men who consumed just two servings. Cognitive functioning also remained higher for men who ate more vegetables.

Millions not told about side‑effects of antidepressants

Millions of Britons are being left in the dark about the side-effects of their antidepressants, sleeping pills and other powerful medicines. GPs are not providing patients with enough information about possible problems such as loss of libido or even suicidal feelings, a survey by Mind, the mental health charity, found. Sophie Corlett , Mind’s director of external relations, said: “Our research revealed that a worrying number of us are receiving life-changing treatment without fully understanding what it involves. This has got to change.” The warning comes amid concerns that antidepressants are being prescribed as a quick fix. Data obtained by The Times last year showed that prescriptions had doubled in a decade, with one in six adults taking Prozac or other antidepressants.

Growing up beside livestock may strengthen babies’ immune systems

A study of gut microbes collected from Amish babies, who are raised around a variety of livestock, showed they are much more diverse — in a good way — than the gut microbes of urban babies. This suggests, according to researchers at Ohio State University, that early exposure to a wider variety of environmental bacteria, including those found in and on livestock, leads to health and immune system benefits later in life. […] “We wanted to see what happens in early immune system development when newborn pigs with ‘germ-free’ guts are given the gut microbes from human babies raised in different environments,” says professor Renukaradhya Gourapura, co-lead author on the study. “From the day of their birth, these Amish babies were exposed to various microbial species inside and outside of their homes.” […] “Researchers know that the gut microbiome likely plays a significant role in development of the immune system and in the onset of various metabolic processes and infectious diseases, but we need better models to discover the details of that process so that we can use that information to improve human health,” Gourapura says.

Ian thought’s: These findings tie in with a growing line of research that shows both physical and psychological benefits of (a) exposure to soil (example) and natural environments (example) and (b) more diverse and robust gut microbia (example). Moreover, many popular drugs like antidepressants may have harmful impacts on gut microbia (example). Exposure to soil microbia might also explain, at least in part, why many studies show psychological benefits of gardening (example). 

Children told lies by parents subsequently lie more as adults and face difficulties

“If you don’t behave, I’ll call the police,” is a lie that parents might use to get their young children to behave. Parents’ lies elicit compliance in the short term, but a new psychology study led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) suggests that they are associated with detrimental effects when the child becomes an adult. The research team asked 379 Singaporean young adults whether their parents lied to them when they were children, how much they lie to their parents now, and how well they adjust to adulthood challenges. […] “Our research suggests that parenting by lying is a practice that has negative consequences for children when they grow up. Parents should be aware of these potential downstream implications and consider alternatives to lying, such as acknowledging children’s feelings, giving information so children know what to expect, offering choices and problem-solving together, to elicit good behaviour from children.”

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for October 1, 2019

 Researchers: “Antidepressants should not be used for adults with Major Depressive Disorder”

In a new article, researchers directly state that antidepressants should not be used since there is insufficient evidence of benefit and evidence for the risk of potential harms. They base this conclusion on a thorough review of the existing studies. “The benefits of antidepressants seem to be minimal and possibly without any importance to the average patient with major depressive disorder,” they write. “Antidepressants should not be used for adults with major depressive disorder before valid evidence has shown that the potential beneficial effects outweigh the harmful effects.” […] One common perception is that antidepressants are needed in the most severe cases of depression, even if they are ineffective for mild-to-moderate depression. However, current research has failed to support this hypothesis. The researchers write that “there is no clear evidence to support the notion that antidepressants would be of more benefit in severe depression compared with mild or moderate depression.”

Some experts disagree over new ADHD guidelines

When children are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, stimulant medications like Ritalin or Adderall are usually the first line of treatment. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines Monday upholding that central role of medications accompanied by behavioral therapy in ADHD treatment. Some experts say, however, they are disappointed the new guidelines don’t recommend behavioral treatment first for more children, as that might lead to better outcomes, recent research suggests. […] A study published in 2016 in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology explored the sequencing of treatment methods and showed that kids with ADHD between ages 5 and 12 who were given behavioral treatment before starting pills had less behavioral problems than kids who started with pills right away. A new study co-authored by Coles took it further. It found that children ages 5-13 with ADHD who received therapy first often needed less medication. And 37% of the children who got therapy first didn’t end up needing to take pills at all. “Really, what it’s suggesting is that if we use behavioral intervention as the first line of treatment, we can reduce or eliminate the need for medication in children with ADHD,” Coles said.

People with anxiety may strategically choose worrying over relaxing

Relaxing is supposed to be good for the body and soul, but people with anxiety may actively resist relaxation and continue worrying to avoid a large jump in anxiety if something bad does happen, according to Penn State research. In a new study, the researchers found that people who were more sensitive to shifts in negative emotion — quickly moving from a relaxed state to one of fear, for example — were more likely to feel anxious while being led through relaxation exercises. Michelle Newman, professor of psychology, said the results could help benefit people who experience “relaxation-induced anxiety,” a phenomenon that occurs when people actually become more anxious during relaxation training.

Consumer Reports: These strategies can help keep your medicine regimen safe

If you fill multiple prescriptions each month, welcome to the club. More than one-third of people between ages 62 and 85 take at least five prescription drugs. But as people age, many drugs are harder on the body. “Older people may be more sensitive to medications than younger ones,” says Ronan Factora, M.D., a geriatrician at the Cleveland Clinic. Body fat increases while water levels drop. That means drugs can become more concentrated and may also stay in your body longer (so you may feel the effects at lower doses, and they may last longer). […] Antidepressants, meanwhile, can make patients more susceptible to drowsiness and dizziness, says Mary Tinetti, M.D., a geriatrician at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. Consider talk therapy. And if you take an anti­depressant, start with the lowest dosage and have your doctor monitor you closely for adverse effects, she says.

This is how to make your kids amazing: 4 secrets from research

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founding co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. Tina Payne is a pediatric and adolescent psychotherapist, and Director of Parenting for the Mindsight Institute. The two teamed up to write The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child. […] Siegel and Payne establish 4 critical skills children need to learn: Balance: Managing their emotions and behavior. Fewer screaming meltdowns in the cereal aisle of the grocery store. Resilience: Bouncing back after life inevitably reminds them just how not-the-center-of-the-universe they really are. Insight: The ability to understand themselves. To learn lessons, not make the same mistake 65 times in a row and to apply that wisdom to other areas of life. Empathy: To understand the perspectives of other people, to care, and to be able to apologize and set things right without an authority figure forcing you.

12 ways to protect your brain from slowing down with age

Imagine all the ways that you could benefit from having a brain that runs quickly and smoothly. Your thought processes would flow that much more efficiently, and mental work would be less, well, work. However, as you get older, you wonder how you’ll be able to continue to hold onto your mental acuity.  One approach that continues to gain traction as an antidote to aging involves exercising as a way to maintain the brain’s plasticity (ability to adapt and change). In general, the advantages of exercise are supported by researchers who investigate its benefits to counteract the aging process. Aerobic exercise, in which you push your body to reach the so-called “training zone” (80% of your max heart rate) shows the greatest effect on the efficiency of the heart in pumping blood to the body’s tissues. Other forms of exercise are also efficacious in slowing the aging process, such as yoga to promote muscle flexibility and protect from joint damage. However, aerobic exercise remains the gold standard for slowing the otherwise inexorable effects of aging on how efficiently your body can work.

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

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

News & Information for September 31, 2019

Pessimism may lower your odds of living a long, healthy life

Last month, a Boston-based team of researchers affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Boston University Medical Center, and the VA’s Center for PTSD published the results of a decades-long study on “exceptional longevity.” This 30-year study found that women and men who exhibited a more optimistic mindset lived longer, on average, than study participants who tended to be pessimistic. This longitudinal study (Lee et al., 2019) found a significant correlative association (not causal) between optimism and higher odds of living past the age of 85, which is a marker for “exceptional longevity.” (See Optimism Study Gives Optimists More Reason to Be Optimistic)

Ireland Benzodiazepine warning is highly significant

The recent statement by the Medical Council warning of the potential dangers of prescribing benzodiazepines and related drugs is a surprise. Normally the regulator uses updates to its ethics guide to advise doctors on best practice, so for it to issue a warning outside of this framework is highly significant. Driven primarily by concerns about patient safety, the warning is aimed at curbing the overprescribing of certain categories of drugs; benzodiazepines and their cousins the z-drugs are a group of medicines […] The president of the Medical Council, Dr Rita Doyle, said: “The impact of inappropriate prescribing of benzodiazepines, z-drugs, pregabalin and other controlled drugs is having a significant impact on patient safety and wellbeing.”

How to beat depression and anxiety, without anti-depressants

A study by UCL into how effective antidepressants are, published earlier this month in The Lancet, has caused some alarm and confusion. Researchers recruited 653 adults from GP surgeries across the UK. All had experienced symptoms of depression, anxiety or both, although none was taking antidepressants. Each was prescribed either the antidepressant Sertraline or a placebo; neither doctor nor patient knew which. Participants filled in questionnaires about their symptoms regularly throughout the 12-week course of treatment. Overall, there was little evidence that Sertraline reduced depressive symptoms, and this had led some to suggest antidepressants don’t work. In truth, Sertraline did make…

All you need is… kindness? New research shows top mate characteristics

What is it that we look for when we seek out romantic partners? And, are the preferences we look for the same across countries and cultures? These are the questions a newly published research study sought to answer when asking 2477 college students around the world what characteristics they’d prefer in a romantic partner. The study, which now constitutes the largest test of the mate preference priority model, had participants in Eastern countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, and Western countries, including the UK, Norway and Australia, design their ideal long‐term partner by being given a pretend monetary budget and being asked to allocate “mate dollars” to “buy” desirable traits for a mate within said fixed budget. Participants could choose from the following characteristics: physical attractiveness, good financial prospects, kindness, humour, chastity, religiosity, the desire for children, and creativity.

Being happier will help you live longer, so learn how to be happier

Science has been exploring the connection between happiness and longevity for some time. A 2018 analysis of nearly 10,000 Brits found those who said they felt content, happy or excited on a typical day were up to 35% less likely to die prematurely. In a 2016 study, a positive outlook was associated with longer life for nearly 4,000 older French men and women studied over 22 years. Researchers followed more than 2,000 Mexican-Americans in 2015 and found those who were more positive in their world view were half as likely to die. And a 2011 study followed around 200 women and men from San Francisco over 13 years and found those who reported more positive than negative experiences also lived longer. According to research on the Positive Psychology Center website, striving for well-being will allow you to perform better at work, have better relationships, a stronger immune system, fewer sleep problems, lower levels of burnout, better physical health and — you’ll live longer.

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 September 28-29, 2019

 Transgender puberty blocking drug linked to thousands of deaths, FDA data reveals

More than 6,300 adults have died from reactions to a drug that is used as a puberty blocker in gender-confused children, Food & Drug Administration data shows. “Between 2012 and June 30 of this year, the FDA documented over 40,764 adverse reactions suffered by patients who took Leuprolide Acetate (Lupron), which is used as a hormone blocker. More than 25,500 reactions logged from 2014-2019 were considered ‘serious,’ including 6,370 deaths,” The Christian Post reported on Thursday. “Lupron is being prescribed off-label for use in children who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria despite the lack of formal FDA approval for that purpose,” the outlet explained. “The drug is clinically approved for treatment of precocious puberty, a condition where children start their pubertal processes at an abnormally early age and the blocker is administered for a short time until the proper age.” […] “Gender dysphoria is not an endocrine condition, but is a psychological one and should, therefore, be treated with proper psychological care,” he said, according to The Christian Post. “But it becomes an endocrine condition once you start using puberty blockers and giving cross-sex hormones to kids.”

Peter Kinderman – Why We Need a Revolution in Mental Health Care

This week on MIA Radio, we chat with Professor Peter Kinderman. Peter is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool, honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Mersey Care NHS Trust and Clinical Advisor for Public Health England, UK. He was 2016-2017 President of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and twice chair of the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology. His research activity and clinical work concentrate on serious and enduring mental health problems, as well as on how psychological science can assist public policy in health and social care. His previous books include A Prescription for Psychiatry: Why We Need a Whole New Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing, released in 2013.

A nation divided: U.S. politics taking physical, emotional toll on Americans

The past few years in American politics have been tumultuous, to say the least. Personal political beliefs aside, there is no denying that the U.S. has grown especially divided in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory. […] In March of 2017 researchers surveyed 800 Americans, selected from a pool of 1.8 million in order to create representative samples of the U.S. population. Almost 40% admitted that politics is stressing them out, and one in five even said they are losing sleep over U.S. politics. “It became apparent, especially during the 2016 electoral season, that this was a polarized nation, and it was getting even more politically polarized,” comments study leader and political scientist Kevin Smith in a release. “The cost of that polarization to individuals had not fully been accounted for by social scientists or, indeed, health researchers.” […] This study is among the first to comprehensively examine the physical and emotional cost of participating in the current U.S. political system and subsequent discourse. Of course, there have been other studies conducted on U.S. politics, but those focused primarily on economic or monetary costs.

Drug Co. admits to kickback scheme involving seniors and Nuedexta

Avanir Pharmaceuticals has agreed to pay over $95 million to resolve kickback allegations as well as “false and misleading” marketing of the drug Nuedexta in long-term care (LTC) facilities in a bid to get providers to prescribe it off-label for patients with dementia, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) reports. “Kickbacks have the power to corrupt a provider’s medical judgment,” Jody Hunt, assistant attorney of the DOJ’s Civil Division, said in a news release. “And it is particularly concerning when a pharmaceutical company uses kickbacks to drive up sales in connection with a vulnerable population, such as elderly patients in nursing care facilities.” […] the Northern District of Ohio has indicted four individuals in the state, including former Avanir employees, who paid or received kickbacks from Avanir.  “All four are charged with conspiracy to solicit, receive, offer and pay healthcare kickbacks,” the DOJ said. “Doctors should prescribe medicine based on what is best for their patients, not on which drug company is paying for their travel and meals,” Justin Herdman, US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said in the release.

Your pediatrician’s dirty secret, giving kids adult medicine

Was that medicine you just gave your toddler tested on children? This is a question that few parents ask themselves, but probably should. A large new study found that doctors are increasingly prescribing “off-label” drugs to kids, medications that the FDA has either not approved for children or not approved for the specific condition being treated. A whopping one in five visits to a pediatrician resulted in an off-label drug being prescribed. This means that if your toddler needed medicine — from antibiotics to antihistamines — there’s a better than 20% chance it was a drug meant for, and tested on, adults. […] A big reason why this so widespread is there just aren’t enough drugs that have been rigorously tested in children, a requirement for FDA approval. “Traditionally, children were excluded from most clinical trials on the premise that they are a vulnerable population that needs protection from the risks,” says Dr. Daniel Horton, senior author of the study and assistant professor of pediatric rheumatology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “The irony is that excluding children has made them even more vulnerable to the use of untested medicines.”

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 September 27, 2019

Prozac stocks running low as NHS warns docs to limit prescriptions

DOCTORS have been urged to dole out less prescriptions of Prozac – amid a nationwide shortage of the antidepressant. Supplies of the drug fluoxetine, best known by its brand name Prozac, are running low due to manufacturing problems. It comes after NHS docs received a letter last week from The Department of Health telling them to contact their patients who take the drug to ask how many supplies they have at home. According to the magazine Pulse, the letter said that any patient with enough pills to last until November should not be given a repeat prescription. GPs have instead been given a list of alternatives including unlicensed 10mg capsules that are being sourced from abroad. It comes after GPs prescribed record numbers of anti-depressants last year – with demand doubling in a decade.

‘Science says you’ll like it’: For a happiness boost, try being kind

Recently published research by Oxford University and showed spending just seven days carrying out, or observing, one kind act a day boosted subjective happiness in participants. What’s more, a higher number of kind acts correlated with higher levels of happiness. The link between kindness and happiness has been investigated extensively over the years – a team of researchers analysed more than 27 studies that showed links between kindness and feelings of happiness in 2018. Dr Oliver Scott Curry, who worked on both the analysis and the seven-day study, says that while this previous research has shown that helping others makes you happy it had “not looked at whether it makes a difference who those ‘others’ are, for example close family as opposed to distant friends”. The newer research saw different groups each spending a week performing kind acts to either close contacts, strangers, themselves or even observing kind acts, and found all boosted happiness. I decided to put it to the test.

Get out there: study finds introverts happier after pushing themselves socially

Introverts, or people who are naturally more subdued and quiet, are usually at their most content in a private, tranquil setting. However, researchers from the University of California, Riverside say that introverts will eventually start to feel happier if they push themselves to be more social and outgoing for an extended period of time. A group of 123 college students, all of varying levels of sociability, were asked to act like extraverts for a full week. Extroverts are the complete opposite of introverts, and usually engage with people as often as possible. Then, the same group was asked to act like introverts for a full week. […] “The findings suggest that changing one’s social behavior is a realizable goal for many people, and that behaving in an extraverted way improves well-being,” says study co-author Sonja Lyubomirsky in a media release. Lyubormirsky, a UCR psychologist, says psychologists favor the term “extravert” over “extrovert,” because of its historic academic use, and the Latin origins of “extra,” meaning “outside.”

New research suggests vaping during pregnancy could cause neurological issues in offspring

New research under peer review suggests that vaping during pregnancy could have long-term damaging neurological effects on offspring, according to a study conducted with mice. The study shows that propylene glycol and vegetable glycerol — the colorless liquids mixed in with nicotine to form e-juice in vapes — were found to cause neurological issues in mice whose mothers were exposed to the kind of vapors in e-cigarettes inhaled by humans. “We saw reductions in memory performance and increased inflammation in the brain, as well as more active immune responses,” said the study’s co-author Jared Schwartzer, assistant professor of psychology and education at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley. […] “I don’t think that these products should have been released or marketed before adequate research and safety testing was done, and that did not happen,” Zelikoff said. “So scientists, particularly in this case, are trying to play catch up. I definitely agree they should be taken off the market.”

Schizophrenia vs Psychosis Spectrum Disorder as a diagnosis

Although schizophrenia is the focus of the majority of research investigating psychosis, it represents only 30% of the poor outcome associated with the full spectrum of psychotic disorders, according to a 2018 paper by Guloksuz and van Os published in Psychological Medicine.1 This purported overemphasis on schizophrenia has led to a sort of tunnel vision in which the disease has become nearly synonymous with the concept of psychosis, limiting advancement in the area of psychotic disorders. The researchers suggest that the diagnosis of schizophrenia, which has been shown to have limited validity and specificity, be abandoned in favor of a broader approach. As an initial step toward reconceptualization, they propose a shift toward a classification system reflecting “single umbrella disorder – psychosis spectrum disorder (PSD) – with specifiers,” similar to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). “Even this subtle revision will help the field to rethink psychosis without the borders of schizophrenia and therefore clear the way for a better conceptualization in the future.”

This is the best way to overcome conflict in your relationship, according to science

Even between the most loved-up of couples, arguments are an inevitable part of any relationship. It makes sense when you think about it: when you put two people, a whole host of emotions and a handful of intimacy into the mix, there’s bound to be moments of disagreement and upset. Just because fights themselves appear to be a negative thing, that doesn’t mean the occasional disagreement makes your relationship bad or unhealthy. In fact, fighting has actually proven to be a healthy thing in the long-run, as long as couples approach disputes with a “positive, solutions-focused mentality”. A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology has found that there is such a thing as the “best way” to move past a conflict, and it’s probably a lot more obvious than you might think. Scientifically termed “active repair,” this approach includes any behaviour that leads to the restoration of affection: the psychological version of “kiss and make up,” basically.

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 September 26, 2019

Cannabis exposure in adolescence disrupts brain maturation in animals

A NIDA-supported study may help explain observed links between adolescent marijuana use and vulnerability to psychiatric disorders. The findings indicate that exposure to the drug’s main psychoactive ingredient, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), disrupts normal maturation of pyramidal neurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). These neurons are crucial for the performance of the PFC, which mediates decision making, impulse control, and emotional regulation, among other cognitive functions. The study findings show that THC interferes with their development in ways that may increase adolescent cannabis users’ risks for addiction and schizophrenia. […] The researchers also showed that THC exposure in adolescence was associated with changes in gene expression, including of genes with roles in neuron growth and structure. […]  The changes observed in the THC-exposed animals were similar to those seen in gene networks that have been linked to psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and mood disorders. THC exposure also altered expression of genes involved in epigenetic regulation, suggesting that exposure in adolescence could have continuing effects on neuronal gene expression and function later in life.

Rats prefer social interaction to heroin or methamphetamine

A recent study published in Nature Neuroscience shows that social interactions can have a profound effect on drug self-administration and relapse and on the brain’s response to drug-associated cues. The research was conducted in Dr. Yavin Shaham’s lab of the NIDA Intramural Research Program and was led by Dr. Marco Venniro. The researchers gave rats the option of pressing one lever for a drug infusion or a different lever to open a door and interact with a social peer. The rats opted to open the door more than 90 percent of the time, even when they had previously self-administered methamphetamine for many days and exhibited behaviors that correspond to human addictive behaviors. […] Dr. Venniro says, “These results demonstrate that social reward has remarkable protective and restorative effects in rodent addiction models and illustrate the importance of considering social factors in neuropharmacological studies of drug addiction.” 

Three studies link air pollution to serious mental health issues in children

Exposure to polluted air, or smog, can result in a number of physical health problems. There have also been numerous studies associating smog and contaminated air with increased rates of depression and anxiety among certain population samples. Now, three studies have found that exposure to air pollution may be especially detrimental to children’s mental health. […] Among children already dealing with a mental health issue, short-term exposure to air pollution was found to result in an exacerbation of symptoms just one to two days later. Researchers were able to come to that conclusion by observing increased activity in the Cincinnati Children’s psychiatric emergency department following periods of increased air pollution in the area. The same study also found that children living in poorer Cincinnati neighborhoods may be more susceptible to smog-induced feelings of anxiety and suicidal thoughts, compared to other children living in better off neighborhoods. […] A second study found a connection between children recently exposed to traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) and more intense feelings of generalized anxiety. […] a third study discovered that prolonged exposure to TRAP during childhood was significantly associated with self-diagnosed bouts of depression and anxiety among 12-year olds. 

What makes dogs so special and successful? Love.

Research on dogs has exploded in recent decades. Universities have opened canine cognition labs, and scientists have probed dogs’ intelligence, behavior, biology and skills. Clive Wynne, a psychologist and founder of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, has a new book that walks readers through the growing body of dog science. In it, he argues that what makes dogs remarkable is not their smarts, but their capacity to form affectionate relationships with other species — in short, to love. […] Q: What is love? Don’t we need a clear definition? A: I avoid using the L-word in my scientific writing. We talk about exceptional gregariousness. We talk about hypersociability. When we’re doing science, we have to find terms that can be operationalized, or things that can be measured. We can measure whether a dog chooses to go for a bowl of food or its owner when it’s separated from both food and its owner for many hours. We can measure how hormonal levels go up in both dogs and their owners when they look into each other’s eyes.

A religious upbringing promotes generosity

Our own research on the topic at the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard, published last year in a paper in the American Journal of Epidemiology […] we examined how a religious upbringing shaped children over time from adolescence into young adulthood. We found that during childhood and adolescence, those who attended religious services regularly were subsequently 29 percent more likely to have high levels of volunteering than those who did not. Those who attended services regularly were also 87 percent more likely to subsequently have high levels of forgiveness; and those who prayed and mediated regularly were 47 percent more likely to have a high sense of mission. Again, the effects of a religious upbringing seemed to contribute to a greater generosity toward others many years later during young adulthood. Our study also indicated that those who were raised religiously were also protected from what are sometimes called the “big three” dangers of adolescence: depression, drug use, and risky behaviors. They were also more likely to have higher levels happiness in young adulthood. 

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

Whether the drug is a sleeping pill, tranquilizer, stimulant, antidepressant, mood stabilizer, or antipsychotic, Your Drug May Be Your Problem reveals its documented withdrawal symptoms, demonstrating what many doctors don’t know, understand, or consider: withdrawal symptoms often mimic the symptoms for which a person has been medicated in the first place. Armed with this essential background information, readers will then be able to choose for themselves when and how to withdraw from psychiatric drugs.

News & Information for September 25, 2019

Prozac maker secretly paid millions to secure favorable verdict in mass shooting lawsuit

The drugmaker that produces Prozac, the antidepressant that Joseph Wesbecker’s victims blamed for his deadly shooting rampage 30 years ago at Standard Gravure, secretly paid the victims $20 million to help ensure a verdict exonerating the drug company, The Courier Journal has learned. Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. has vigorously shielded the payment for more than two decades, defying a Louisville judge who fought to reveal it because he believed it swayed the jury’s verdict. Wesbecker began taking Prozac about a month before his murderous spree that killed eight and wounded 12 in the print shop attached to The Courier Journal. All but one of the victims sued Eli Lilly, which manufactured the popular but then-controversial drug.

Nature’s role in mental illness: prevention or treatment?

[A] systematic review of the existing literature on the mental health benefits of nature-based recreation, recently published in the Journal of Leisure Research, confirmed that spending time outdoors, and especially participating in outdoor activities, can lead to a variety of positive mental health outcomes. More than 80% of the relevant research papers reviewed for this study reported at least one association between outdoor activities and positive mental health outcomes, while none reported a single negative mental health outcome. The most common positive benefits seen were significant reductions in stress and anxiety after time spent in nature, as well as increased positive affect, or elevated mood. The overall positive effects documented in these studies were often described using terms such as “psychological healing,” “increased sense of well-being,” and “restorative.” While there were many encouraging results, however, fewer associations were found between nature-based activities and increased positive affect in studies that examined the potential benefits for those with mental health diagnoses such as major depression and PTSD. 

Schizophrenia and suicide: Is there a drug connection?

Schizophrenia is the mental health condition that is correlated with the highest risk of suicide […] David Healy is a Professor of Psychiatry at Bangor University in Wales and the author of “Pharmageddon.” Dr. Healy and his colleagues examined data for first-time admissions for schizophrenia in north-west Wales for the years 1875-1924 and compared the mortality rate of these patients to those from 1994-2010. […] Their findings were nothing short of astounding. In comparison with the general population, patients with schizophrenia in the contemporary cohort were 10 times more likely to be dead at the end of their first year of treatment than their counterparts from a century before. Dr. Healy noted “There is no other illness in medicine where such a statement could be made.” All the deaths in the contemporary cohort (seven out of a total of 227 patients) were due to suicide […] Dr. Healy and his co-authors argue that the likeliest explanation is the excess of suicides in the modern-day cohort is due to so-called “antipsychotic” drugs, which did not become available until the 1950s. 

Universal language of colors: People worldwide associate colors with the same emotions

Colours may be universally associated with certain emotions, a study has found. Red is pinned to love or anger, blue to sadness or black to death, and similar links appear to exist in other parts of the world. Even where colours weren’t solidly attributed to a single emotion, nearly all of them were either mostly good or mostly bad regardless of where people lived. But on a smaller, more detailed scale there were nuances which researchers said they could use to predict which country someone came from. Scientists from the universities of Auckland, Lausanne in Switzerland and Johannes Gutenber in Mainz, Germany carried out their research on 711 people.

Six ways to stay healthy when you’re stressed

Human beings are not built to endure prolonged periods of stress. If you want to see an extreme example of what it can do to a person, observe prime ministers as they enter and exit Downing Street. Before, fresh-faced, they simper for the cameras. Afterwards, they are gaunt, grey and lined. It is like watching an accelerated version of ageing, and a reminder of how stress corrodes the human body. We live in stressful times, though. More people are scratching a living in the gig economy, without paid leave or long-term job security. Austerity has ripped through communities like bullets through plasterboard, destroying the mental health of those forced into dehumanising encounters with the machinery of the welfare state.  […] The fact is, stress kills. Prolonged stress has been linked to heart disease, depression and diabetes. But how can you stay healthy when you are stressed? We asked some experts.

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for September 24, 2019

Drinking tea improves brain health, study suggests

A recent study led by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) revealed that regular tea drinkers have better organised brain regions — and this is associated with healthy cognitive function — compared to non-tea drinkers. The research team made this discovery after examining neuroimaging data of 36 older adults. “Our results offer the first evidence of positive contribution of tea drinking to brain structure, and suggest that drinking tea regularly has a protective effect against age-related decline in brain organisation,” explained team leader Assistant Professor Feng Lei, who is from the Department of Psychological Medicine at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. […] “We have shown in our previous studies that tea drinkers had better cognitive function as compared to non-tea drinkers. Our current results relating to brain network indirectly support our previous findings by showing that the positive effects of regular tea drinking are the result of improved brain organisation brought about by preventing disruption to interregional connections.”

Social isolation derails brain development in mice

Female mice housed alone during adolescence show atypical development of the prefrontal cortex and resort to habitual behavior in adulthood, according to new research published in eNeuro. These findings show how social isolation could lead to an over-reliance on habit-like behaviors that are associated with addiction and obesity. The adult brain is largely shaped during adolescence, when some connections between brain cells are solidified and others are eliminated. Prior research has established an important role for social experience in this development.

Why do antidepressants have warnings about suicidal thoughts?

It’s a common warning on the labels of antidepressant drugs: “may cause suicidal thoughts.” Some people who are depressed may think about committing suicide. So, it seems counterintuitive that medications, which are specifically formulated to treat depression, could have this side effect. But why? “The name ‘antidepressants’ is kind of a marketing term that makes the problem of suicidality less understandable,” explains licensed clinical psychologist Dr. David Godot, with Psych Lab Psychology Center in an email. “Antidepressant medications do not actually reduce depression – they simply increase levels of certain neurotransmitters. Forty years ago, researchers imagined that depression was caused by a shortage of those neurotransmitters. However, research has not supported that hypothesis at all. The brain is much more complicated than that.”

Ian’s thoughts: Dr. Breggin explained decades ago that the overly simplistic serotonin theory of depression was doomed on the shear complexity of the human brain. It has literally taken the entire field of psychiatry decades to realize Dr. Breggin was right so long ago. It’s surely not that psychiatrists were dumb, rather they were in-bed with the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, mainstream psychiatry now tries to deny they ever advanced the serotonin theory of depression. If you think I’m kidding, check this out in Psychiatric Times

Debunking the two chemical imbalance myths, again

And, yes, there are really two myths to debunk. The first holds that mental illnesses (psychiatric disorders) in general are caused by “a chemical imbalance” in the brain—the so-called “chemical imbalance theory.” The second myth holds that “Psychiatry” as a profession endorsed the first myth, deliberately and knowingly lying to countless, unsuspecting patients. Depending on which anti-psychiatry group, blogger, or website you investigate, you will find a number of corollaries to the second myth; for example, “Psychiatrists lied to patients in order to justify giving them medication,” or “Psychiatrists were corrupted by Big Pharma, and stood to make a lot of money by promoting the chemical imbalance theory” (Sidebar). Rebuttals of these claims are almost always dismissed as, “Psychiatry defending its guild interests” (as if the purveyors of anti-psychiatry animus have no self-serving motives).

Ian’s thoughts: So right there we can see psychiatry, in one of its leading trade journals, has bailed out of the sunk chemical-imbalance theory. But the “second myth” is based on weasel wording that attempts to absolve psychiatry of any role in the first myth. The author, Ronald Pies, editor-in-chief emeritus of Psychiatric Times, appears to obscure the fact that psychiatry did endorse the serotonin-imbalance theory of depression for years by creating a straw-man unified chemical-imbalance theory for all mental illnesses, and then declare psychiatry never endorsed that theory. What a dodge! Here’s another story commenting on Pies piece above…

10 reasons why psychiatry lives on—obvious, dark, and darkest  

No matter how clearly the scientific case is made that psychiatry is a pseudoscientific institution meriting no scientific authority, do you have that sinking feeling that psychiatry will continue to retain power and even grow in influence? It doesn’t seem to matter that psychiatry’s “chemical imbalance theory of mental illness”—the major reason why people in mass began using psychiatric drugs—has long been discarded by science and is now being fled from even by members of the psychiatry establishment, notably Ronald Pies, editor-in-chief emeritus of the Psychiatric Times. Pies stated in 2011, “In truth, the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion was always a kind of urban legend—never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists”; and in 2019, Pies called the “chemical imbalance theory” a “myth.” […] Because of the above 10 reasons, no matter how clearly the scientific case is made that psychiatry is a pseudoscientific institution meriting no scientific authority, psychiatry will continue to retain power. When we recognize that scientific truths alone are not setting society free, we begin to shift our energy to strategies that take into consideration the above reasons.

Evolutionary Psychiatry: Good Reasons for Bad Feelings?

Dr. Randolph Nesse is Foundation Professor of Life Sciences and Founding Director in The Center for Evolution and Medicine at Arizona State University […] He’s also the author of several books, including Why We Get Sick (coauthored with George C. Williams) and, more recently, Good Reasons for Bad Feelings (2019). In this episode, we focus mostly on Dr. Nesse’s most recent book. We first talk about the field of Evolutionary Medicine, and refer specifically to phenomena like antagonistic pleiotropy and aging, evolutionary mismatch and modern disease, and if we should approach diseases as adaptations. We then move on to discussing issues in Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology; the classification of mental disorders; studying emotions from an evolutionary perspective; and the Smoke Detector Principle. We talk about depression, and how we haven’t evolved to feel good or experience wellbeing. In the latter part of the interview, we discuss Psychoanalysis and the self-defense mechanisms, and also if people can benefit from learning about how their minds operate, from an evolutionary standpoint.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for September 23, 2019

Five studies show mindfulness improves presenteeism, reduces stress, and health costs

When you reduce stress through mindfulness, you improve productivity and decrease healthcare costs, according to data presented today […] “These findings confirm that mindfulness is a powerful tool to address some of the toughest challenges facing employers.” The five studies were conducted using gold standard methods to determine the impact of mindfulness on health and productivity. Participants in each study used eMindful’s evidence-based, expert-led applied mindfulness programs via a mobile app or the web. The studies analyzed thousands of participants using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), a widely used and validated instrument for measuring perception of stress, and the Work Limitations Questionnaire (WLQ), which assesses the degree to which physical health, emotional problems, and other factors interfere with one’s ability to perform a job. […] The final study (n = 2,123) found that of participants who practiced mindfulness for 14 minutes a day, at least three of 30 days, approximately 73% decreased their PSS [ Perceived Stress Scale ] scores (-6.18 on average).

Prozac maker paid millions in secret deal in mass shooting lawsuit

The drugmaker that produces Prozac, the antidepressant that Joseph Wesbecker’s victims blamed for his deadly shooting rampage 30 years ago at Standard Gravure, secretly paid the victims $20 million to help ensure a verdict exonerating the drug company. […] Wesbecker began taking Prozac about a month before his murderous spree that killed eight and wounded 12 in the print shop attached to the Courier Journal. All but one of the victims sued Eli Lilly, the company that manufactured the popular but controversial drug. […] In exchange for the payment, the plaintiffs – eight estates and 11 survivors – agreed to withhold damaging evidence about the arthritis drug Oraflex that Lilly withdrew from the market. Lilly pleaded guilty to 25 criminal misdemeanor counts for failing to report adverse reactions that patients suffered from the drug, and the drug company feared that the Prozac jury would be more inclined to rule against the drugmaker if it learned of it.”

Is your gut really your ‘2nd brain’?

New research shows that the makeup of the gut microbiome plays a significant role not only in mental health, but in cognition as well. The channel of communication runs both ways — the gut influences the brain, and the brain influences the gut. One theory is that the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the gut, acts as an information highway, with messages traveling in both directions. Some scientists have referred to the gut as our “second brain.” Out of these findings has come the term “psychobiotics.” Specifically, it refers to the types of live bacteria, or probiotics, that impart positive mental health benefits. Research in mice has shown that infusions of beneficial bacteria to the gut resulted in markedly lower levels of inflammation in the brain. This, in turn, influenced behavior, including lower levels of anxiety and fear when the mice made their way through a maze. Someday antidepressants may consist of doses of feel-good bacteria tailored to the needs of each person’s gut microbiome. In the meantime, the goal is to develop and maintain a gut microbiome that’s robust and diverse. This is achieved by eating a high-fiber, low-sugar diet filled with plant-based and fermented foods. Exercise has been shown to be helpful, too.

Irish doctors urged to stop over-prescribing benzodiazepines and similar drugs

THE MEDICAL COUNCIL has warned that doctors who are caught over-prescribing benzodiazepines, z-drugs and Pregabalin will face disciplinary action. The council is seeking to take action on the issue at national level, as it believes that the over-prescription of the drugs is negatively affecting the safety of patients. Benzodiazepines are a group of medicines that can be prescribed for short periods to help with sleeping problems, or to help with episodes of severe anxiety. They are not for long-term use, and can be dangerous if a patient develops an overreliance or a dependency on them. […] “Any doctor whose level of prescribing is above the normal range, and who is not working in an exceptional area of practice, and who does not make any effort to refer their patients to support or reduce their high-prescribing levels may require formal investigation by the Medical Council,” Doyle said.

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

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

News & Information for September 21-22, 2019

Science and Pseudoscience of Mental Health Podcast: Episode 1

One of the few triple board-certified physicians in the country, with expertise in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Hospice/Palliative care, Dr. Zach Bush abandoned his prestigious academic career in cancer research, and his conventional medical practice a decade ago, after coming to terms with the fact that not only were his pharmaceutically based research and treatment protocols ineffectual; they were making his patients sicker. He then opened a clinic in the middle of a food desert in rural Virginia, where he swapped out pharmaceutical interventions for the medicinal properties of plants. Now based in Charlottesville, Dr. Bush has assembled an outstanding group of scientists and clinicians who are at the forefront of research on the microbiome and epigenetics. He has developed an impactful approach to healthcare which directly challenges ‘big farming,’ ‘big pharma’ and conventional medicine. Below, are some of the key themes that emerged during our conversation.

 The clinical effectiveness of antidepressant Zoloft in primary care: a pragmatic, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial

Depression is usually managed in primary care, but most antidepressant trials are of patients from secondary care mental health services, with eligibility criteria based on diagnosis and severity of depressive symptoms. Antidepressants are now used in a much wider group of people than in previous regulatory trials. We investigated the clinical effectiveness of sertraline [aka, Zoloft] in patients in primary care with depressive symptoms ranging from mild to severe and tested the role of severity and duration in treatment response. […] We found no evidence that sertraline led to a clinically meaningful reduction in depressive symptoms at 6 weeks. […] We observed weak evidence that depressive symptoms were reduced by sertraline at 12 weeks. We recorded seven adverse events—four for sertraline and three for placebo, and adverse events did not differ by treatment allocation. Three adverse events were classified as serious—two in the sertraline group and one in the placebo group. One serious adverse event in the sertraline group was classified as possibly related to study medication.

Ian’s thoughts: That study, the largest of its kind not conducted by the pharmaceutical industry, is getting a lot of press, some reports interpreting it as finally discovering how antidepressants work, not by reducing depression, because the popular SSRI Zoloft in this study did not reduce depression after 6 weeks (as scores of other studies show for SSRIs broadly, see for example below three days ago) and hardly after 12 weeks. That these researchers found some reduction of anxiety is at best saving face in the midst of what should be a marketing disaster. Lots of non-drug interventions reduce anxiety such as meditation, music, exercise, regular outings in nature. Anxiety is not the more serious issue that depression is, and the balance of studies show antidepressants are in fact not anti-depression, they do not actually do what they are marketed to do. Below are a couple examples of the media coverage of this study… 

Most common antidepressant barely helps improve depression symptoms, ‘shocking’ trial finds

The most commonly prescribed antidepressant barely relieves symptoms of modern depression, a major study reveals. The largest independent investigation ever undertaken found patients taking sertraline experienced negligible improvements in mood. Published in the Lancet Psychiatry [see study above], the study comes amid mounting controversy over increased use of antidepressants by GPs in recent decades, with roughly 7.3 million people in England issued a prescription each year. […] Professor Glyn Lewis, who led the research at University College London, said: “We were shocked and surprised when we did our analysis. “There is absolutely no doubt this is an unexpected result. Our primary hypothesis was that it would affect those depressive symptoms at six weeks and we didn’t find that. We definitely need better treatments for depression, and we need more research in this area.”

Scientists are shocked to find common antidepressant sertraline ‘barely treats depression’

A study [see above] has revealed that UK’s most commonly-prescribed antidepressant “barely works”. Scientists from University College London said they were “shocked” with the discovery, according to The Sun. The study, which is the biggest of its kind, is one of the first to consider the health implicatons of patients with mild to moderate depression, rather than severe cases. During the research, a dummy drug was used in comparison to the common antidepressant sertraline.  Nearly 16 million doses were doled out by UK GPs in the last year alone and, according to the Ministry of Health, the number of Kiwi children and teenagers on Prozac-style anti-depressants had soared 98 per cent in the last 10 years to a total of nearly 15,000 young people in 2016. […] “Antidepressants work but perhaps in a different way to the way we had originally thought. “They seem to be working on anxiety symptoms first before any smaller, and later, possible effects on depression.

Inflammation and the 3 paths of depression in older adults

Inflammation has gained more recent attention as an important factor in depression as studies have shown that antidepressant treatment could be targeted to reduce inflammation, that treating inflammation may improve depression, that depression is more common with certain inflammatory diseases, and because inflammation can be modified in a variety of ways, ranging from medications and other medical treatments, and lifestyle factors including social support, diet and nutrition, environmental factors, and exercise. […] In order to look more deeply into late-life depression and the impact of inflammation in particular, scientists […] conducted a study of 13,203 people between the ages of 50 and 90 years old, using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). […] They found that across the sample, there were three paths (or trajectories) in depression trends in this cohort of older adults. Overall, they found that 25 percent of people in this study were affected by clinically significant depressive symptoms. The three trajectories were:

And breathe … Gurus extol the virtues of conscious respiration

Across the UK, there are a growing number of workshops and events in studios, corporate offices, the natural history museum and even parliament, where MPs and peers have been learning breathing techniques during yoga classes. The NHS also promotes breathing exercises to reduce stress, and wellness influencers such as Wim Hof, Russell Brand and Fearne Cotton have lauded the rewards of the practice. “Conscious, connected breathwork is now reaching the world,” says Geert De Vleminck, chair of the International Breathwork Foundation. “People are always seeking to find happiness, joy, real love and to be healthy.” He explains that many troubled people fail to address their issues and instead busy themselves with drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, television, shopping and superficial beauty. […] “It’s becoming a really big thing because it’s so simple. You can feel so good just from breathing.”

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for September 20, 2019

Johns Hopkins Prof. issues dire warning on transgender treatment for kids

A psychiatry professor at one of the most renowned medical institutions in the world is warning against allowing children to transition their genders, likening transgender treatment for minors to performing “frontal lobotomies.” Dr. Paul McHugh, a distinguished professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, told The College Fix there will likely be long-term negative implications for children allowed to engage in hormonal treatments for gender dysphoria. […] Those who begin transitioning as kids will “be in the hands of doctors for the rest of their lives,” he warned, adding, “Many of them are going to be sterilized and not able to have their own children, and many will regret this. Can you imagine having a life where you need to seek doctors all the time, for everything, just to live?” McHugh continued. “Getting your hormones checked, getting everything checked. That is something doctors should like to spare people of.” Additionally, McHugh referenced a 2018 study reportedly censored by Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, after the survey’s lead researcher, professor Lisa Littman, discovered a “contagion effect” when it comes to transgenderism among children.

Mentally strong people do these 5 things for a greater sense of control in their life

There’s little in life that feels as uncomfortable as living with a sense that things are spinning out of control. We want autonomy at work and to not be micromanaged because of our desire for control. We hate change and prefer predictability (for the most part) because of our need to feel in control. So when we don’t feel it, it doesn’t feel good. But feel good about the fact that you can indeed foster a greater sense of control. In doing research for Find the Fire, I interviewed and surveyed over 1,000 employees about what inspires them at work (and makes them feel uninspired) as well as what makes them feel in control (and not so much in control). Patterns clearly emerged among the mentally strongest people I talked with, which I cross-referenced with the habits of the most self-assured leaders I met over a 30-year corporate career. What follows are the top five habits of the mentally toughest and most in control–all habits you can develop too.

Fetal exposure to maternal infection & lifetime neuropsychiatric risks

For a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, Dr. al-Haddad and colleagues sought to determine whether maternal infection during gestation increased risk of neuropsychiatric pathology in the fetus over the course of his or her lifetime. “We also wanted to know if there was a difference in risk based on the infection severity (severe infections versus urinary tract infections),” adds Dr. al-Haddad. “While other work has examined some of these questions, we used innovative methods and compared severe infections to urinary tract infection and used separate data from death registries to compare with depression data.” […] al-Haddad and colleagues found that fetal exposure to any maternal infection increased risk of an inpatient diagnosis of autism (hazard ratio [HR], 1.79; 95% CI, 1.34-2.40) or depression (HR, 1.24; 95%CI, 1.08-1.42) in the child (Table) […] “In many ways, the pregnancies with infection were quite different from those without infection,” says Dr. al-Haddad. “For example, infants exposed to gestational infection were smaller and more likely to have mothers who smoked or who had gestational diabetes. At baseline, these children are different. We use regression to attempt to control for these differences based on our causal model.”

A simple test predicts what kindergartners will earn as adults

Chances are you have heard about the “marshmallow test.” Put a marshmallow in front of a child and give them two choices: eat it now or wait 15 minutes and get two. According to a classic study, children able to delay gratification and wait for the second marshmallow have better academic, social and health outcomes years later. Since these early experiments, researchers have shown that a wide range of childhood traits from social and emotional skills to motivation and self-control can predict better life outcomes. These children go on to have more educational and occupational success and to live longer, healthier lives. Now a new study I helped lead has found another link between behavior in childhood and success later in life. Published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, my colleagues and I report that children who were rated as “inattentive” by kindergarten teachers had lower earnings at ages 33 to 35, and those rated as prosocial—such as being kind, helpful and considerate—earned more.

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

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

News & Information for September 19, 2019

Meditation linked to enhanced social cognition in new psychology research

Experienced meditators and people who are more mindful tend to score higher on several measures of social cognition, such as emotional recognition, according to new research published in Frontiers in Psychology. Despite the growing interested in meditation, “little is known about how mindfulness is related to social cognition,” the researchers wrote in their new study. […] “Results were in the anticipated direction and confirmed that meditators performed better on social cognition indices, compared to non-meditators,” the authors of the study said. […] “From a pedagogical perspective, our findings suggest that specific training in mindfulness focused on observing internal and external experiences – as well as non-reactivity to such inner experience – can result in enhancement of specific social cognition domains,” the researchers said.

Is insomnia associated with future suicide attempts in youth?

Insomnia symptoms contributed indirectly to suicide attempts in a cohort of youth who attended an intensive outpatient suicide prevention program, according to study results published in Psychiatry Research. Jenny W. Lau […] and colleagues examined the prospective relationship between insomnia symptoms and suicide attempts in high-risk youth. The investigators acquired data on depressive symptoms, insomnia symptoms, and suicide ideation measures from clinical records for 206 adolescents between the age of 12 and 17 years at both entry and discharge from the prevention program. They also obtained information on suicide attempts within 6 months following discharge. […] When controlling for age, sex, and previous attempts, entry insomnia symptoms were prospectively associated with suicide attempts, but symptoms at discharge were not. Suicide ideation at discharge was also associated with entry insomnia symptoms, as well as attempts within 6 months of discharge. When entry and discharge suicide ideation were controlled, the association between entry insomnia symptoms and attempts lost significance, but the association between discharge ideation and attempts remained significant. […] “Our results indicated that there is a chain effect between insomnia symptoms and suicide attempts, as patients with higher insomnia symptom scores at entry had higher suicidal ideation scores at discharge and a subsequent increased likelihood of a suicide attempt 6 months after the program,” the researchers wrote.

Supportive relationships in childhood leads to longer lives

After years of generalized theories and hypothesis, research has finally pinpointed certain aspects of childhood experience linked to people living longer. Individuals raised in families with higher socioeconomic status were more optimistic in midlife, and in turn, lived longer. Those who experienced more psychosocial stressors, such as parental death, frequent moves and harsh discipline, tended to encounter more stressful life events in midlife, and had greater risk of dying. Prior research has shown that adverse childhood experiences are associated with higher mortality risk. However, the effects appear to be driven by a small proportion of individuals who experienced multiple “hits” of severe stressors, such as physical abuse and domestic violence. Little is known about the potential effects of milder but more common stressors and the potential benefits of favorable childhood experiences on longevity. How different aspects of childhood experiences come to influence life span has rarely been studied. These questions are addressed in a new study in the journal Psychology and Aging.

Why millennials are so lonely

There’s been a rising concern about the epidemic of loneliness in our society. Last year, a national survey by Cigna of more than 20,000 Americans ages 18 and over showed that most U.S. adults are considered lonely. That particular study found that that the youngest generation of those surveyed were the loneliest of all. Now, a recent poll by YouGov just confirmed that Millennials have surpassed Generation X and Baby Boomers as the loneliest generation. The YouGov report found that 30 percent of Millennials (ages 23-38) always or often feel lonely. About one in five people in this age range say they have no friends, while 27 percent say they have no close friends, and 30 percent say they have no “best friend.” These numbers are considerably higher than the other generations surveyed. […] In our 30 years of research, my colleagues and I at The Glendon Association have found that the most common critical inner voice people experience is that they are different from other people in some basic negative way. Now, think about how the use of social media might exaggerate this precise self-attack. Most days, we all experience a range of emotions, from high to low. We may feel exhausted or down and choose to stay home on the couch for the night. However, the minute we grab our phone and scroll Instagram, we see a flood of faces, looking like they’re having the time of their lives.

Yale researchers say doing this simple activity can add 2 years to your life

you can imagine how thrilled I was to come across research from the Yale School of Public Health demonstrating that reading books likely extends your lifespan by two years or more. (“Great!” I thought, “I’ll have two more years to read.”) The Yale researchers were reviewing 12 years of data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study (HRS). The HRS is a longitudinal panel study that administers surveys to around 20,000 Americans over the age of 50 every two years. It is supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration, and is one of the largest longitudinal studies of its kind. What the Yale researchers discovered was that in analyzing the health statuses and reading habits of over 3,600 men and women over the age of 50 in the HRS, a distinct pattern came to light. It turned out that people who read books for at least 30 minutes a day were living, on average, two years longer than those who didn’t read anything. Plus (and this part is important), the book readers were 23 percent less likely to die than people who were only reading newspapers or magazines.

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 September 18, 2019

Jonathan Haidt on the Coddling of the American Mind

How can we raise resilient kids in the internet age? In the latest episode of the Good Life podcast, New York University’s Jonathan Haidt offers incisive insights & terrific tips.

 Antidepressant use does not prevent suicide, study finds

A new study has found that antidepressants are ineffective for reducing suicide attempts. The researchers found that about 20% of participants attempted suicide after being hospitalized for depression, whether they took antidepressants or not. The researchers found a large spike in suicides just after initiating antidepressant use: up to 4 times higher in the month just after first taking an antidepressant than in later months. However, as there was also an increase just before taking an antidepressant, the researchers argue that this spike in suicidality is due to “disease severity” rather than the antidepressant use. The researchers conclude that antidepressants do not reduce suicidality. […] According to Osler and the other researchers, suicide attempts and violent behaviors were linked to taking psychotropic medications, among other factors. “Suicidal behavior and violent crime were most frequent among the lowest educated, those with psychiatric comorbidity or psychotropic medication,” they write.

 Antidepressant use associated with more violent suicide attempts

A new study found that taking an antidepressant medication was associated with a heightened risk of suicide using violent means. The research was led by Jonas Forsman, in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience in Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet. It was published in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. According to the researchers, “SSRIs treatment not exceeding 28 days conferred an almost fourfold risk of violent suicide.” This indicates that the highest risk comes within one month of starting a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. In this study, the researchers compared death from “violent” suicide (e.g., hanging, weapon) to “non-violent” suicide (e.g., poisoning, overdose). Their results indicated that SSRI use was associated with an increased likelihood of using violent means to end one’s life. This comparison is important because the use of violent means is far more likely to result in completed suicide.

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 September 17, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 09.11.19

My guest Patrick Hahn and I focus on psychosis and so-called schizophrenia:   Is it a disease?   Is it genetic?  Is it biological?  Or are severe psychiatric disorders a normal human response to early trauma, neglect and deprivation.  Do the drugs work?   Are there better alternatives for helping people who received the more severe psychiatric diagnoses?   Patrick has an enormous fund of information and is a fountain of wisdom.   A very good discussion of these and related difficult topics that are often obfuscated by by false claims from the psychiatric establishment.

Therapy gets more effective over time while antidepressants decrease in effectiveness

In a new article, researchers Susan McPherson and Michael Hengartner examine data on long-term depression outcomes. Their study was conducted in anticipation of forthcoming depression treatment guideline revisions by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Their results demonstrated that antidepressants become less effective over time, whereas psychological therapies tend to increase in effectiveness. Previously, NICE excluded analyses of long-term depression trials in their guidelines because the number of studies on long-term depression was insufficient. This decision was met with pushback, however, because long-term studies, which examine the prognosis of depression beyond the average 10-weeks of treatment, are a crucial source of evidence. McPherson and Hengartner argue that “if it is possible to agree that good-quality, long-term trial data is the best possible evidence for long-term conditions, then the paucity and variable quality of this data should not be a reason to exclude it in analyses used to inform depression guideline recommendations.”

‘Off-label’ drugs for kids raises concerns

When a child gets sick, doctors are increasingly relying on what’s known as “off-label” use of medications, a new study says. Off-label use of a drug means that it hasn’t been specifically studied and approved for the condition, age group or weight of the person getting the prescription. For example, kids with asthma may be prescribed antihistamines (approved for allergies, but not specifically for asthma), because they may have allergies that trigger their wheezing, the researchers noted. The study found that doctors prescribed one or more off-label drugs for children in almost 1 out of every 5 office visits. […] “But sometimes there isn’t good evidence, so it’s important for parents to discuss with the child’s doctor what is known and not known about off-label drugs, so they can try to ensure that the benefits of a drug outweigh the risks,” Horton said.

Those with autistic traits may make good social psychologists

A recent Yale study found that individuals with autism spectrum disorder traits are as good or even slightly better social psychologists than those who do not have traits of autism. The researchers found that social psychological skill — the ability to make general predictions about how others think, feel and behave — is positively related to autism spectrum disorder traits. People with traits of autism may be able to view situations more analytically, without needing to assess the emotional or mental states of individuals, the study reports. […] Surprisingly, they found that those with higher levels of autistic traits were better at predicting the behavior of the general population than those with lower levels. “This is pretty interesting, as it’s a social skill that’s quite different from these other types of social skills that people have talked about so much,” Gollwitzer said. “We tend to discuss person perception in terms of one-on-one skills, and to show that there might be these more reflective judgements that people who are commonly thought to not be socially skilled are very good at, is an inspirational direction to follow in terms of bringing out those skills in a societal light.”

Do emotional support animals need emotional support?

Unlike service animals, who are individually trained to perform a specific task for the benefit of an individual with a clear disability (epileptic seizures, self-mutilating behaviors), emotional support animals are not required to have individual training for a specific task. He or she simply needs to be there for “comfort”. A wide range of animals can be registered as ESAs, including pigs, ducks, hamsters, ferrets, monkeys and lizards – and there was even an unsuccessful attempt to bring a peacock on a United Airlines flight. The peacock, named Dexter (who recently died suddenly and unexpectedly), spent several hours perched atop luggage while waiting for a seat. The photo of his “dilemma” went viral as most people viewed this as a humorous, albeit preposterous, set of circumstances. And even more recently a Missouri woman is fighting the law to keep three monkeys in her home as emotional support animals to help her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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 September 16, 2019

Taking Tylenol during pregnancy linked to Childhood ADHD

The research published today (Monday 16 September) in Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology examined whether there were any effects of taking paracetamol in mid-pregnancy and the behaviour of the offspring between the ages of 6 month and 11 years, with memory and IQ tested up until the age of 17. Paracetamol [aka, acetaminophen, Tylenol] is commonly used to relieve pain during pregnancy and is recommended as the treatment of choice by the NHS. […] They found an association between paracetamol intake and hyperactivity and attention problems as well as with other difficult behaviours with young children that were not accounted for by the reasons why the medication was taken or social factors. However, this was no longer the case by the time the children reached the end of primary school. Boys appeared to be more susceptible than girls to the possible behavioural effects of the drug. […] “Our findings add to a series of results concerning evidence of the possible adverse effects of taking paracetamol during pregnancy such as issues with asthma or behaviour in the offspring. It reinforces the advice that women should be cautious when taking medication during pregnancy and to seek medical advice where necessary.”

‘Gardening helps our mental health. They should do more of it in jail’

Alan Grant steps back from the flowerbed he has been carefully weeding and reflects on his morning’s work. “It takes you away from prison a bit,” he says, “it’s therapeutic, it’s enjoyable. My time here would have gone slower if it wasn’t for the garden.”  Since his transfer to Parc prison near Bridgend in south Wales almost three years ago, Grant has worked in the jail’s gardens. His family and friends have noticed the impact it has had on him. “The job does help people, especially if they struggle,” he says. “Gardening helps with mental health and I think they should do more of it in jail. It gives a sense of purpose; it takes our minds off things. It keeps me going. I’m happy and I enjoy it.”

Why the world is becoming more allergic to food

Inquiries into the deaths of British teenagers after eating buttermilk, sesame and peanut have highlighted the sometimes tragic consequences. Last year, a six-year-old girl in Western Australia died as the result of a dairy allergy. […] The frequency of food allergy has increased over the past 30 years, particularly in industrialised societies. Exactly how great the increase is depends on the food and where the patient lives. For example, there was a five-fold increase in peanut allergies in the UK between 1995 and 2016. A study of 1,300 three-year-olds for the EAT Study at King’s College London, suggested that 2.5% now have peanut allergies. […] There is no single explanation for why the world is becoming more allergic to food, but science has some theories. […] But it is thought that eating trigger foods during weaning can lead to a healthy response and prevent the allergy developing, because the gut’s immune system is prepared to tolerate bacteria and foreign substances, such as food. This was the basis for King’s College London’s LEAP Study, which showed about an 80% reduction in peanut allergy in five-year-old children who regularly ate peanut from the year they were born.

5 easy ways to boost your brain health

Brain supplements are big business. In 2015, the supplement market specifically targeted toward boosting brain health was worth an estimated 2.3 billion dollars. By 2024, that number is expected to increase by 500 percent, reaching an estimated 11.6 billion dollars. More and more, people are turning to supplements to enhance their memory, alleviate depression and anxiety, increase their attention and focus, support longevity, and prevent dementia. Among the most popular of these supplements are carnitine, ginkgo, ginseng, fish oil, turmeric, and most recent to enter the market, CBD oil. […] So rather than wasting your hard-earned money on ineffective supplements, try these five tips for boosting your brain health. Not only are they backed by science, but they’re also easy to do and cost way less than supplements (many are even free).

Some personality traits are a product of where we live, not who we are

Qualities such as patience or risk-taking are often thought of as product of an individual’s innate character. But a new Yale study of children from four countries suggests many behaviors may not be a product of who you are, but where you are. “We tend to think of qualities like patience as an innate part of who we are but virtually all of what we know about how these behaviors develop comes from children in industrialized societies,” said Dorsa Amir, anthropologist and lead author of the Yale study published Sept. 16 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. […] “These Shuar kids were behaving more like the Americans, and less like their Shuar counterparts in the forest,” Amir said. “This suggests that industrialization can shape behavior rather dramatically, and if we really want to understand the full range of human behavior, we need to include participants from pre-industrial societies”.

Toxic Pssychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for September 14-15, 2019

Tai Chi exercise may promote emotional stability and slow brain atrophy in seniors

Long-term Tai Chi practitioners tend to have better emotional stability and more gray matter in important brain structures, according to new research that examined people who were between 60 and 70 years old. The study was published in Frontiers in Psychology. “Adverse structural changes in the brain, especially the atrophy of gray matter, are inevitable in aging,” said study author Zhiyuan Liu, an associate professor at Shaanxi Normal University in China. “Tai Chi is a popular exercise for older adults in China which combines Chinese martial arts and meditative movements with a kind of yogic relaxation through deep breathing. Compared with other exercises that contain a meditation element, Tai Chi is generally recognized as a safe and low-cost complementary therapy.”

Is social media toxic to your teen’s mental health?

There are few things that parents express more consistent concern about then their kids’ screen time. Wouldn’t it be nice to find some clarity on what’s okay for kids and what isn’t? A study published in JAMA Psychiatry three days ago, concludes in no uncertain terms that social media is negative for our teens mental health. Yet only a few weeks ago, a different study concluded that screen time does not have a negative effect on our kids. What gives? The new study in JAMA Psychiatry has concluded that time spent on social media is bad for teenagers’ mental health, echoing a growing body of research. […] “The more time you spent on social media, adolescents were more likely to have issues like anxiety and depression on follow-up,” said lead researcher Kira Riehm, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to HealthDay. “It was a pretty clear-cut association.”

Do mountains inspire creativity?

Melanie Rudd grew up within sight of Mount Rainier in Washington State. Now an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Houston, she specializes in studies of awe. […] Most of us would probably never suspect that feelings of awe could open up our shuttered creativity – and mountain scenery, which serves up all-you-can-eat portions of awe, is the key, according to Rudd and her colleagues. […] “Generally when you’re experiencing positive emotions, you tend to rely on a lot of your existing knowledge,” says Rudd. “You’re like, ‘I’m feeling good and I’m confident in my existing knowledge.’ But something about awe is different: it makes you feel like you need to adjust your way of thinking, but not in a negative way. Most of the time, the idea of changing how you think is scary and threatening. But when you’re experiencing awe, it’s a positive feeling, and it reassures you that this is not a dangerous situation – this is a safe environment, so it’s OK to open your mind and think. When we’re feeling this way, our desire to create just shoots up.”

Obesity map reveals spread of epidemic across America

OBESITY levels have reached nearly 40 per cent in parts of the United States, a shocking new map reveals. The map shows that in nine states – Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia – adult obesity is at or above 35 per cent.

But in West Virginia and Mississippi that figure hits 39.5 per cent, according to data from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Across the whole of the US, only three states have obesity levels under 25 per cent, and none have less than 20 per cent. Colorado, Hawaii and the District of Columbia are the healthiest. Obesity costs the United States health care system over $147 billion a year and research has shown it affects work productivity and military readiness, says the CDC. […] “These latest data shout that our national obesity crisis is getting worse,” he said.

Strongest evidence yet that obesity causes depression

(Nov 12, 2018) New research released today from the University of South Australia and University of Exeter in the UK has found the strongest evidence yet that obesity causes depression, even in the absence of other health problems. The research, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, shows that the psychological impact of being overweight causes depression, rather than associated illnesses such as diabetes. […] “The current global obesity epidemic is very concerning,” Prof Hypponen says. “Alongside depression, the two are estimated to cost the global community trillions of dollars each year. “Our research shows that being overweight doesn’t just increase the risks of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease; it can also lead to depression,” Prof Hypponen says.

Suicide is skyrocketing in young people, even as deaths by accident, cancer, and murder fall

The number of young people dying by suicide has skyrocketed in recent years, a troubling trend that health experts say will likely continue if it goes unaddressed. In 2000, the CDC tallied 4,294 deaths by suicide in people from ages 10 to 24. But in 2017 (the most recent year for which the CDC has final data) that number rose by more than 50%, to 6,769 young people.

“Rates will likely continue to go up if we don’t, as a society, really put more emphasis on comprehensive suicide prevention,” CDC suicide prevention researcher Deb Stone […] Suicide rates are up in almost every US state, and they’re rising for both men and women. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for people from 10 to 34, according to the CDC, but there’s rarely one single reason for it. Some of the most common factors that contribute to suicide can include relationship issues, crises, job or school stresses, and physical health problems.

Lingering side effects of quitting antidepressants

After quitting antidepressants four years ago, I finally have my life back after enduring their debilitating side effects for thirty years. It’s a whole new world: I wake up feeling bright and rested and take pleasure in everyday tasks — I’m functioning again. Nobody told me what it would be like when I first stopped taking them. My psychiatrist cut me off because she wasn’t prescribing anymore, and I couldn’t find a primary care physician who knew anything about what I was going through. I quickly learned that I was on my own. The worst is definitely over, but I’m still experiencing some lingering side effects. During the first year off the meds, high anxiety ruled. It has calmed down a lot, but I hadn’t been able to figure out how or why it gets triggered when I go out. I recently discovered that what I’ve been experiencing is not so much anxiety as it is an “over-stimulation” response to sights and sounds.

Ben Furman – Understanding and dealing with adolescent rage

On MIA Radio this week, in the second of a number of podcasts focused on parenting issues, we interview Ben Furman MD. Ben is a Finnish psychiatrist, psychotherapist and internationally renowned teacher of the Solution-Focused approach to preventing and treating mental health problems in both children and adults. His numerous books have been translated into over 20 languages.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for September 13, 2019

ADHD is not an illness, and Ritalin is not a cure

The article before you is a sort of professional suicide. But there’s no choice, the school year has started and someone needs to shout out, so the whole class can hear: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not an illness and Ritalin is not a medicine! It may seem that ADHD is bequeathed us by the Bible, that is, by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), but still many of us, parents of ADHD children, are beginning to think heretical thoughts and to wonder whether ADHD is a true neuropsychiatric disorder, which justifies giving our children medical treatments. […] The four Ds In light of the fact that we have no way to diagnose psychological disturbances by means of such physiological examinations as blood tests, we ask four simple questions that help us to determine whether a specific behavior is a psychological disturbance: (1) Is the behavior in question Deviant, that is, different from the norm? (2) Does it cause a significant Dysfunction in daily behaviors? (3) Is it Dangerous to the person or to others in his/her surrounding? Finally, (4) Does it cause severe Distress and suffering to the individual?

Obesity is the leading cause of death in America. When will we talk about it?

Bill Maher called for fat shaming last week. His argument makes sense. […] As the NY Times recently reported, obesity is the leading cause of mortality in the United States. Obesity costs the nation $1.72 trillion every year. As Bill Maher pointed out last week, 53 people were killed in mass shootings in August. By comparison, in the same month 40,000 Americans died because of diseases associated with obesity, causing him to call liberals “the NRA of mayonnaise” for their unwillingness to openly discuss this mass killer. Shame is an evolutionary tool that helps create better behavior when performed with the intention of transformation. It can establish and enforce new norms. […] There are seven habits of effective shaming according to Jacquet. “The transgression should (1) concern the audience, (2) deviate widely from desired behavior, and (3) not be expected to be formally punished. The transgressor should (4) be part of the group doing the shaming. And the shaming should (5) come from a respected source, (6) be directed where possible benefits are highest, and (7) be implemented conscientiously.”

Can psychiatry heal itself?

Just a few decades ago, psychiatry’s reputation was surging. Biological theories of and treatments for the brain, notably drugs like Thorazine, lithium, Valium, and Prozac, were displacing Freudian psychobabble and transforming psychiatry into a truly scientific discipline. Or so boosters of bio-psychiatry claimed. But bio-psychiatry has failed to live up to its hype. That is the sobering theme of Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness, by Harvard historian Anne Harrington […] “Today one is hard-pressed to find anyone knowledgeable who believes that the so-called biological revolution of the 1980s made good on most or even any of its therapeutic and scientific promises,” Harrington writes. Harrington’s book chronicles the largely futile efforts of scientists to find biological (as opposed to psychological) causes and cures for mental illness. She goes through the sordid history of insulin-coma therapy, electroconvulsive therapy, the lobotomy, and the fever cure. The latter, which assumed that high fever could purge madness from patients, called for infecting them with malaria. Some patients served as “malaria reservoirs,” whose blood supplied pathogens for infecting others.

Psychotherapy leads in treating post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common, often debilitating mental health condition that occurs in some people who have experienced trauma. It can have a negative impact on mood, mimicking depression, and is characterized by petrifying episodes in which affected people re-experience trauma. New research suggests psychotherapy may provide a long-lasting reduction of distressing symptoms. Over the course of a lifetime, many people directly experience or witness trauma, such as sexual assault, violence, or natural disasters. Experts estimate that 10% to 20% of these people will experience acute (short-term) PTSD. Some will go on to develop chronic (long-term) symptoms. Overall, about 8% of all people will develop PTSD during their lifetime, highlighting the need for effective treatments.


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 September 12, 2019

Teens are anxious and depressed after three hours a day on social media

A study published today in the journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests that teenagers who spend more than three hours a day on social media are more likely to develop mental health problems including depression, anxiety, aggression, and antisocial behavior. The study: Nearly 6,600 12- to 15-year-old Americans self-reported how much time they spent per day on social media, as well as whether they had any mental health problems. The researchers found that three hours of social media correlated with higher rates of mental health issues, even after adjusting for a history of such problems. How teens absorb social media: The effects of social-media consumption on teens manifest in two main ways, according to the study’s authors: internally (depression and anxiety, for example) and externally (aggressive behavior or antisocial behavior). The latter were essentially nonexistent among teens who reported that they didn’t use social media.

A snapshot of prescription drug use in Britain sparks a call for alternatives

A quarter of all adults in Britain take prescription medication for pain, anxiety, depression or insomnia, and half of those people had been taking the drugs for a year or more, according to a government report released this week. The report, based on an analysis of prescription data in 2017 and 2018, is the first snapshot of prescription drug use in Britain. […] It found that antidepressants accounted for the highest number of prescriptions, taken by 7.3 million people. Opioid painkillers were second, taken by 5.6 million people, although opioid prescriptions started declining in 2016. Britain has a population of just over 66 million, the government has estimated. […] referring patients to community organizations and activities, a practice known as “social prescribing,” could be a viable solution to medications. That approach worked for Arabella Tresilian, who struggled for 20 years to wean herself off antidepressant medication. “It has such an impact that you think you can’t get on with normal life, so it makes you want to go back on them,” Ms. Tresilian, 44, said. After approaching her doctor for an alternative treatment, she was put in contact with a network that connected her to community groups and financial and career support; joined a choir to avoid her mental health triggers; and succeeded in quitting the antidepressants.

Brain networks of newborns prenatally exposed to maternal depression and SSRI antidepressants

Background: Prenatal maternal depression (PMD) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are associated with increased developmental risk in infants. Reports suggest that PMD is associated with hyperconnectivity of the insula and the amygdala, while SSRI exposure is associated with hyperconnectivity of the auditory network in the infant brain. However, associations between functional brain organization and PMD and/or SSRI exposure are not well understood. […] Results: Modularity was similar across all groups. The depressed‐only group showed higher connector hub values in the left anterior cingulate, insula, and caudate as well as higher provincial hub values in the amygdala compared to the control group. The SSRI group showed higher provincial hub values in Heschl’s gyrus relative to the depressed‐only group. PLSR showed that newborns’ hub values predicted 10% of the variability in infant temperament at 6 months, suggesting different developmental patterns between groups. Conclusions: Prenatal exposures to maternal depression and SSRIs have differential impacts on neonatal functional brain organization. Hub values at 6 days predict variance in temperament between infant groups at 6 months of age.

Social contact after age 60 could play a significant role in cognitive decline

As we age, our social lives tend to wind down a bit compared to our younger years. While there is nothing wrong with the occasional Friday night spent curled up on the couch, a new study finds that maintaining an active social life into our 50s and 60s can help lower one’s risk of developing dementia later on in life. Conducted by a team of researchers at the University College London, the longitudinal study presents the most convincing evidence thus far that regular social contact earlier in life diminishes one’s odds of suffering from dementia at an older age. “Dementia is a major global health challenge, with one million people expected to have dementia in the UK by 2021, but we also know that one in three cases are potentially preventable,” says the study’s lead author, Dr Andrew Sommerlad, in a release. “Here we’ve found that social contact, in middle age and late life, appears to lower the risk of dementia. This finding could feed into strategies to reduce everyone’s risk of developing dementia, adding yet another reason to promote connected communities and find ways to reduce isolation and loneliness.”

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for September 11, 2019

 Lilly hid secret payments to sway verdict in Prozac mass-shooting case

Eli Lilly (LLY), which makes the Prozac antidepressant that was blamed for a deadly shooting rampage 30 years ago, secretly paid the victims $20 million to help ensure a verdict exonerating the company, the Louisville Courier Journal reports. Lilly vigorously shielded the payment for more than two decades, defying a judge who fought to reveal it because he believed it swayed the jury’s verdict. Joseph Wesbecker began taking Prozac about a month before his murderous spree that killed eight and wounded 12.

Dr. Breggin was an expert witness in the Wesbecker case against Eli Lilly

Guidelines recommending antidepressants “in contradiction with the current evidence”

In an article for BMC Psychiatry, researchers argue that antidepressants (AD) should not be recommended as a first-line treatment for even moderate to severe depression. Martin Plöderl and Michael Hengartner looked at the German S3 guidelines for the treatment of depression to see whether they are in accord with the current evidence about antidepressant effectiveness. They found that the guidelines diverged from the evidence base. The researchers found that the guidelines cited old studies, erroneously cited irrelevant studies, and reported improvements that were not supported by the data in those studies. According to the researchers, “Most patient-level meta-analyses, especially the more recent and larger ones, reported that AD are not clinically significantly superior to placebo, even for severe depression.”

Journalist gets backlash for intimate essay on quitting antidepressants

If you read the LA Times, a recent op-ed headline may have gotten your attention: “Hi, I’m David. I’m a drug addict.” LA Times business columnist David Lazarus had turned to antidepressants after he was diagnosed with diabetes and couldn’t sleep. “On rare occasions when I forgot to take my daily pill, I would feel groggy and disoriented by early afternoon. I’d feel and hear a whooshing in my head, as if my pulse was pleading for its fix. What if there was an earthquake or some other disaster and I couldn’t get my pills? What if the withdrawal symptoms were more than I could handle?” he wrote. The piece, especially Lazarus’ use of the word “addict,” set off a backlash. People called his language insensitive and inaccurate. “The recovery community spelled out for me in great detail that there’s a clear distinction between addiction and dependency. Addiction is a lot more serious. It’s going to control your behavior,” Lazarus shares. “But that said, for someone in the midst of a withdrawal situation, whatever that drug might be, this can be a distinction without a difference. If you are facing these symptoms, from nausea to dizziness to even suicidal tendencies, you’re not really caring about what the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] says is addiction versus what is dependency. Withdrawal is withdrawal.”

Sound body, sound mind: physically fit people have stronger, sharper brains

It’s no secret that exercise can be beneficial from a psychological perspective. A session at the gym or jog around the neighborhood can help us clear our mind, reset our thoughts, and improve our mood. Now, a team of German scientists have discovered that keeping oneself physically fit is also associated with better brain structure and functioning in young adults. The research team believe their findings indicate that if a person can improve their physical fitness, it may lead to improved cognitive ability, including elevated memory retention and superior problem solving. […] “It surprised us to see that even in a young population cognitive performance decreases as fitness levels drops. We knew how this might be important in an elderly population which does not necessarily have good health, but to see this happening in 30 year olds is surprising. This leads us to believe that a basic level of fitness seems to be a preventable risk factor for brain health,” Dr. Repple continues.

Rural America hit hard by recent increase in suicide rates

Suicide rates among adults increased 41% in the United States between 1999 and 2016, with the most rapid growth occurring in rural areas, researchers reported in JAMA Network Open. “While our findings are disheartening, we’re hopeful that they will help guide efforts to support Americans who are struggling, especially in rural areas where suicide has increased the most and the fastest,” said lead researcher Danielle Steelesmith, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. […] “Suicide is so complex, and many factors contribute,” Dr. Steelesmith said, “but this research helps us understand the toll and some of the potential contributing influences based on geography, and that could drive better efforts to prevent these deaths.” 

Study links certain personality traits to an increased risk of mobile phone addiction

A study by the University of Granada (UGR) has identified the personality traits that increase or decrease the degree of vulnerability to so-called “nomophobia,” defined as the fear of being out of the range of mobile phone contact—a modern-age phobia. […] Among the conclusions, the study found that there are certain factors that help protect against nomophobia, including values such as the predisposition to collaborate with others and a form spirituality that is in line with the personal growth movements, characterized by people who are “socially tolerant, empathetic, helpful, and compassionate.” By contrast, people who suffer from this addiction to mobile phones present features related to gratification-seeking behaviors, to self-interest, or to behaviors that require positive reinforcement from others. “Spiritual maturity, the desire to feel fulfilled, the ability to meditate, and non-materialistic thinking—all of which are linked to high levels of satisfaction with life—are shown by the study to exert a protective effect against nomophobia,” concludes López Torrecillas.

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 September 10, 2019

The CIA’s secret quest for mind control: Torture, LSD and a ‘Poisoner In Chief’

During the early period of the Cold War, the CIA became convinced that communists had discovered a drug or technique that would allow them to control human minds. In response, the CIA began its own secret program, called MK-ULTRA, to search for a mind control drug that could be weaponized against enemies. MK-ULTRA, which operated from the 1950s until the early ’60s, was created and run by a chemist named Sidney Gottlieb. Journalist Stephen Kinzer, who spent several years investigating the program, calls the operation the “most sustained search in history for techniques of mind control.” Some of Gottlieb’s experiments were covertly funded at universities and research centers, Kinzer says, while others were conducted in American prisons and in detention centers in Japan, Germany and the Philippines. Many of his unwitting subjects endured psychological torture ranging from electroshock to high doses of LSD, according to Kinzer’s research. “Gottlieb wanted to create a way to seize control of people’s minds, and he realized it was a two-part process,” Kinzer says. “First, you had to blast away the existing mind. Second, you had to find a way to insert a new mind into that resulting void. We didn’t get too far on number two, but he did a lot of work on number one.”

Amino acid may help people with schizophrenia

A dietary supplement, sarcosine, may help with schizophrenia as part of a holistic approach complementing antipsychotic medication, according to a UCL researcher. In an editorial published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Professor David Curtis (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment and QMUL Centre for Psychiatry) suggests the readily available product could easily be incorporated into treatment plans, while calling for clinical trials to clarify the benefit and inform guidelines. “Sarcosine represents a very logical treatment and the small number of clinical trials so far do seem to show that it can be helpful. It certainly seems to be safe and some patients report feeling better on it,” he said. “Sarcosine may be a helpful treatment for schizophrenia but we should be carrying out further studies in order to find out for sure.” […] “Because it is freely available and fairly cheap, there is nothing to stop somebody with schizophrenia from buying it and trying it themselves, which underscores the need for health professionals to get our heads around it. I would certainly warn them not to stop their regular medication and to continue following the advice of their psychiatrist,” he said.

Strong student-adult relationships lower suicide attempts in high schools

High schools where students are more connected to peers and adult staff, and share strong relationships with the same adults, have lower rates of suicide attempts, according to a new study published by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. […] Students were asked to name up to seven of their closest friends at their school. In a novel approach, students were also asked to name up to seven adults in their school they trust and feel comfortable talking to about personal matters. Researchers used the friendship and adult nominations submitted to build comprehensive social networks for each school. Researchers used this data to determine whether differences in social networks between schools resulted in different rates of suicide attempts and suicidal ideation (thinking about or planning suicide). Their findings revealed the following:

White House weighs controversial plan on mental illness and mass shootings

The White House is considering a controversial proposal to study whether mass shootings could be prevented by monitoring mentally ill people for small changes that might foretell violence. Former NBC Chairman Bob Wright, a longtime friend and associate of President Trump’s, has briefed top officials, including the president, the vice president and Ivanka Trump, on a proposal to create a new research agency called HARPA to come up with out-of-the-box ways to tackle health problems, much like DARPA does for the military, say several people who have briefed. After the recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ivanka Trump asked those advocating for the new agency whether it could produce new approaches to stopping mass shootings, said one person familiar with the conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them. Advisers to Wright quickly pulled together a three-page proposal — called SAFEHOME for Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes – which calls for exploring whether technology like phones and smart watches can be used to detect when mentally ill people are about to turn violent.

Science can both erode and promote faith in God, according to a new study

This month’s Journal of Experimental Social Psychology includes new research on how science can both erode belief in God and at the same time through the experience of awe promote faith. The paper is the culmination of research led by Arizona State University’s Kathryn Johnson, who in her role as a psychology professor has looked into religiosity from a variety of lenses. Over the last two years, she has been part of a John Templeton Foundation grant looking at “Fostering Cross-cultural and Multi-wave Psychological Research on Religiosity.” In the published paper […] concluded that there are dual pathways whereby scientific engagement may have paradoxical effects on belief in God. […] The participants who reported both a strong commitment to logic and having experienced awe, or a feeling of overwhelming wonder that often leads to open-mindedness, were more likely to report believing in God. The researchers also found that the most common description of God given by those participants was not what is commonly found in houses of worship: They reported believing in an abstract God described as mystical or limitless.

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

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

News & Information for September 9, 2019

Scientists find psychiatric drugs affect gut contents

Scientists have found that antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs can change the quantity and composition of gut bacteria in rats. These results raise questions about the specificity of psychoactive drug action, and if confirmed in humans whether psychiatrists might need to consider the effects on the body before prescribing. The research team is currently carrying out a large-scale human observational study which aims to answer the questions posed by these findings. This work is presented at the ECNP Conference in Copenhagen following part-publication in a peer-review journal […] Scientists are increasingly finding that the microbiome – the bacterial content of the digestive system – has effects on other functions in the body, and vice versa. […] “We found that certain drugs, including the mood stabiliser lithium and the antidepressant fluoxetine, influenced the composition and richness of the gut microbiota. Although some psychotropic drugs have been previously investigated in in vitro settings, this is the first evidence in an animal model.

harmful impacts

The human gut contains trillions of symbiotic bacteria that play a key role in programming different aspects of host physiology in health and disease. Psychotropic medications act on the central nervous system (CNS) and are used in the treatment of various psychiatric disorders. There is increasing emphasis on the bidirectional interaction between drugs and the gut microbiome. An expanding body of evidence supports the notion that microbes can metabolise drugs and vice versa drugs can modify the gut microbiota composition.

Psychotropic compounds affect the gut microbiota composition

In this review, we will first give a comprehensive introduction about this bidirectional interaction, then we will take into consideration different classes of psychotropics including antipsychotics, antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, anticonvulsants/mood stabilisers, opioid analgesics, drugs of abuse, alcohol, nicotine and xanthines. The varying effects of these widely used medications on microorganisms are becoming apparent from in vivo and in vitro studies. This has important implications for the future of psychopharmacology pipelines that will routinely need to consider the host microbiome during drug discovery and development.

Raising awareness of addiction to prescription antidepressants

David Lazarus’ column on his battle to beat dependence on antidepressants is courageous, insightful and very human. It puts a face on addiction to prescription drugs. Drawing readers into his struggle with diabetes and dependency on the medication used to treat related chronic insomnia helps lift the stigma of addiction, drug dependency and other behavioral disorders. Lazarus is a successful and well respected professional who took a risk on the public stage, exposing very private details of his life. At the same time, he explained to us the magnitude of the problem he shares with many other people — the rich and poor, young and old, executives and high school students, and everyone in between. A spotlight like this on prescription drug dependency and the issues that surround it are crucial to promoting the awareness that those who suffer are certainly not alone. Rhonda Medows, M.D., Renton, Wash.

Which nutrients can help treat mental disorders effectively?

An international team of researchers has analyzed a vast collection of existing research on nutrients that are proven to assist in the management of mental health issues. Led by the NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University, the scientists used the “best of the best”evidence available to provide a clear overview of specific nutritional supplements and their benefits for various mental disorders. The researchers examined 33 meta-analyses of randomized control trials (RCTs) including data from nearly 11,000 people with conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). […] The study revealed that special types of folate supplements may be effective as additional treatments for major depression and schizophrenia, yet these benefits were not observed with folic acid. The experts also found some indication that the amino acid N-acetylcysteine could be useful to help treat mood disorders and schizophrenia. According to the researchers, there was a lack of evidence to support the use of vitamins E, C, or D, or minerals such as zinc and magnesium, for any mental disorder.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for September 7-8, 2019

Dan Hurd – One Pedal at a Time

In our second week of MIA Veterans & Military Families, we interview U.S. Navy Veteran Dan Hurd. Dan is the Founder of Ride With Dan USA and the One Pedal at a Time Movement. After surviving his third suicide attempt, Dan became inspired to bicycle to all 48 States in the continental U.S. to help raise awareness about suicide. Along his journey, Dan has realized his attempts were likely caused by the medications he had been prescribed and now dedicates his life towards inspiring others to live life “One Pedal at a Time”.

Stress during pregnancy ‘increases risk of children developing personality disorders’

Children whose mothers experience stress during pregnancy are more likely to develop personality disorders later in life, a new study has claimed. It has previously been reported that prenatal stress has been linked to the development of psychotic, anxiety and depressive disorders among children. However, new research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry claims to be the first of its kind to investigate the association between prenatal stress and the development of personality disorders. […] Ross Brannigan, from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and lead author of the study, stated that “more research is necessary to prove a causal relationship” between prenatal stress and the development of personality disorders among children. “This study highlights the importance of providing mental health and stress support to both pregnant women and families during the antenatal and postnatal period,” Brannigan said.

Resilience protects pregnant women against negative effects of stress

Resilience–understood as the set of personal resources that help individuals deal effectively with adversity, protecting them from the negative health effects of stress–is receiving increasing attention from researchers. However, it remains under-studied in such a sensitive time of life as pregnancy. Previous studies have found that pregnancy is a crucial period during which exposure to stress can negatively affect the health of both mother and baby. Stress has been linked to a range of adverse consequences, including premature birth or post-partum depression. […] When comparing pregnant women with a high level of resilience to those with a low level of resilience, the researchers found that the more resilient participants perceived themselves to be less stressed, had fewer pregnancy-related concerns, and experienced greater general psychological wellbeing overall. After childbirth, they also presented fewer symptoms of postpartum depression. The cortisol hormone tests demonstrated that the more resilient pregnant women also had lower levels of the stress hormone. Based on these results, the researchers concluded that resilience exerts a clear protective role against the negative effects of stress, both psychological and biological–an effect that can occur during pregnancy and also after the birth.

Novel mobile app shows promise in schizophrenia

The novel mobile application App4Independence may be a feasible solution to improve self-management in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, according to study results published in PLOS ONE. The researchers evaluated the feasibility of the app in 38 patients with a primary psychosis at a large urban center in Canada. Mean patient age was 31.4 years; 63% had a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia, and 71% identified as male. Pre- and post-assessments included psychiatric symptoms, medication compliance, and personal recovery over a 1-month period. Application metrics were analyzed using qualitative feedback obtained from semi-structured interviews with those in the study. The results were reported in accordance with the World Health Organization mHealth Evidence and Assessment checklist.

The study: Mobile app for the schizophrenia spectrum: App4Independence (A4i)

Relative to the large investments in mobile health (mHealth) strategies for mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, the development of technology to facilitate illness self-management for people with schizophrenia spectrum illnesses is limited. This situation falls out of step with the opportunity mHealth represents for providing inexpensive and accessible self-care resources and the routine use of mobile technologies by people with schizophrenia. Accordingly, the focus of this study was upon the feasibility of a schizophrenia-focused mobile application: App4Independence (A4i). A4i is a multi-feature app that uses feed, scheduling, and text-based functions co-designed with service users to enhance illness self-management. This study was completed in a large urban Canadian centre […] Significant improvement was observed in some psychiatric symptom domains with small-medium effects. […] Satisfaction with the app was high and qualitative feedback provided insights regarding feature enhancements. This research suggested that A4i is feasible in terms of outcome and process indicators and is a technology that is ready to move on to clinical trial and validation testing. This study contributes to the small but emergent body of work investigating digital health approaches in severe mental illness populations.

How do we test the effects of long-term exposure to antipsychotics?

Although people with a schizophrenia diagnosis are often expected to take high doses of antipsychotic medications indefinitely, research on the effects of long-term exposure to antipsychotics is sparse. Now, a study claiming to investigate the effects of chronic use on the brain has started recruiting participants at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts. However, the study only lasts for 15 days and the participants will only take a minimal dose of the drug. […] It is unclear how a 15-day study will be able to detect brain changes that may emerge after years, or even decades, of antipsychotic use. However. the researchers state that they could not ethically give the drug to people for longer than 15 days, as this is “the longest but historically safe olanzapine usage period in healthy individuals up to now.” Additionally, although the recommended daily dosage (according to the American Psychiatric Association guidelines) is up to 30 mg of olanzapine, the researchers plan to give the participants only 5 mg of olanzapine a day. They state that this is to “protect the participants from adverse effects of treatment.” The researchers expressly acknowledge that the recommended dose is unsafe and that it would be unethical to expose their subjects to the effects of the medication. If the researchers do not detect any significant brain changes after 15 days, the results may be used to suggest that olanzapine has little to no effect on brain metabolism. They write: “A not-statistically significant finding with this sample size will suggest that any effects of olanzapine on brain metabolism are small at most.”

Vermont sees spike in stimulant abuse, prescriptions

Vermont is seeing a spike in stimulant drug abuse and prescription use, a trend that has policymakers and officials worried that the state could soon face a deepening drug crisis. Lawmakers on the state’s Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee asked health department and public safety officials to testify about stimulant use in Vermont this week amid concerns of rising methamphetamine abuse in the region and across the country. But while the Vermont Department of Health says that meth use in the state remains low, in a report presented to lawmakers, it says that the use of other stimulants, including cocaine and prescription drugs, is increasing. 

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 September 6, 2019

Study shows how serotonin and a popular anti-depressant affect the gut’s microbiota

A new study in mice led by UCLA biologists strongly suggests that serotonin and drugs that target serotonin, such as anti-depressants, can have a major effect on the gut’s microbiota — the 100 trillion or so bacteria and other microbes that live in the human body’s intestines. […] the researchers added the antidepressant fluoxetine, which normally blocks the mammalian serotonin transporter, to a tube containing Turicibacter sanguinisTheyfound the bacterium transported significantly less serotonin. The team found that exposing Turicibacter sanguinis to serotonin or fluoxetine influenced how well the bacterium could thrive in the gastrointestinal tract. In the presence of serotonin, the bacterium grew to high levels in mice, but when exposed to fluoxetine, the bacterium grew to only low levels in mice. […] The team’s research on Turicibacter aligns with a growing number of studies reporting that anti-depressants can alter the gut microbiota. “For the future,” Hsiao said, “we want to learn whether microbial interactions with antidepressants have consequences for health and disease.” Hsiao wrote a blog post for the journal about the new research.

To keep on track to your goals tell someone more successful, new study says

If you want to achieve a goal, make sure you share your objective with the right person. In a new set of studies, researchers found that people showed greater goal commitment and performance when they told their goal to someone they believed had higher status than themselves. It didn’t help people at all to tell their goals to someone they thought had lower status, or to keep their objectives to themselves. […] Howard Klein, lead author of the new study and professor of management and human resourcesat The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. […] “If you don’t care about the opinion of whom you tell, it doesn’t affect your desire to persist – which is really what goal commitment is all about,” Klein said. “You want to be dedicated and unwilling to give up on your goal, which is more likely when you share that goal with someone you look up to.”

Psychiatry in charge of gun control: utter disaster

During the reign of Barack Obama, mass shootings prompted a White House declaration that community mental health centers would be created across America, in order to spot and treat persons before they committed violent acts. Now, under Trump, we are seeing a similar reaction, with a twist. “The Trump administration is considering a proposal that would use Google, Amazon and Apple to collect data on users who exhibit characteristics of mental illness that could lead to violent behavior, The Washington Post reported Thursday.” […] Dr. Peter Breggin, the eminent psychiatrist and author (Toxic Psychiatry, Talking Back to Prozac, Talking Back to Ritalin), told me, “With Luvox there is some evidence of a four-percent rate for mania in adolescents. Mania, for certain individuals, could be a component in grandiose plans to destroy large numbers of other people. Mania can go over the hill to psychosis.” Dr. Joseph Tarantolo is a psychiatrist in private practice in Washington DC. He is the president of the Washington chapter of the American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians. Tarantolo states that “all the SSRIs [including Prozac and Luvox] relieve the patient of feeling. He becomes less empathic, as in `I don’t care as much,’ which means `It’s easier for me to harm you.’ If a doctor treats someone who needs a great deal of strength just to think straight, and gives him one of these drugs, that could push him over the edge into violent behavior.”

Can smiling really make you happier?

The idea that smiling can make you feel happier has a long history. In 1872, Darwin mused about whether an emotion that was expressed would be felt more intensely than one that was repressed. Early psychologists were musing about it in the 1880s. More than a hundred studies have been published on the topic. And it’s a trope of pop wisdom: “Smile, though your heart is aching,” sang Nat King Cole in 1954. “You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you’ll just smile.” In 1988, social psychologist Fritz Strack published a study that seemed to confirm that facial feedback was real. The researchers asked participants to do more or less what I asked you to do earlier: hold a pen in their mouths in a position that forced them either to bare their teeth in a facsimile of a smile or to purse their lips around the pen. To ensure that no one was clued in to the researchers’ interest in smiles, the experimenters told participants that they were exploring how people with physical disabilities might write or perform other ordinary tasks.

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

Whether the drug is a sleeping pill, tranquilizer, stimulant, antidepressant, mood stabilizer, or antipsychotic, Your Drug May Be Your Problem reveals its documented withdrawal symptoms, demonstrating what many doctors don’t know, understand, or consider: withdrawal symptoms often mimic the symptoms for which a person has been medicated in the first place. Armed with this essential background information, readers will then be able to choose for themselves when and how to withdraw from psychiatric drugs.

News & Information for September 5, 2019

Stop Prescribing Antipsychotics for Delirium

Neither first- nor second-generation antipsychotics show a clear benefit over placebo for preventing or treating delirium in hospitalized adults, and their routine use should be discontinued, researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, report. Second-generation antipsychotics, however, may have some benefit in the postoperative setting, according to two systematic reviews of 26 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published online September 2 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. As many as 50% of older inpatients hospitalized for acute illness or surgery experience delirium, which can impair awareness, attention, and cognition and may lead to potentially dangerous disorientation and confusion. […] As with its prevention counterpart, the treatment review found no differences for haloperidol and second-generation antipsychotics compared with placebo regarding hospital length of stay, sedation status, delirium duration, or mortality. Evidence for their effects on cognitive functioning and delirium severity was insufficient or lacking. Again, there were reports of more frequent cardiac side effects with antipsychotics, particularly prolongation of the QT interval, with second-generation antipsychotics compared with placebo or haloperidol. There was little evidence of antipsychotic-related neurologic harms.

Videos, music on tablets boost moods of dementia patients and caregivers

Patients with dementia may be prescribed antidepressants or other drugs in an effort to help lift their mood. But side effects can be severe, so clinicians and researchers continue to seek out other methods to improve the quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and those who care for them. A pilot study analyzed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy finds that dementia patients given access to tablets loaded with apps for photos and music, and common apps such as YouTube, experience more positive moods. Half of the patients involved in the study saw improvements in their moods. Caregivers were able to personalize how dementia patients interacted with the tablets and they, too, benefited, especially when they felt the tablet sessions made their loved ones feel better. […] “One of the things the tablet allows you to do is to bring all those non-pharmacological approaches together so they can be offered through one device,” says Ford. “It provides the ability to tailor the intervention to the person with dementia.” […] “What’s nice is it’s a real-time experience, so if one interaction doesn’t work you can try another app. You can move from music to reminiscing. You can find at that point and time the interventions to which that person responds,” says Gilson.

A single severe head injury can trigger long-term brain damage

One major blow to the head is enough to trigger progressive brain deterioration and long-term cognitive decline in some people. We already know that repeated head knocks – like those sustained in boxing and American football – can lead to personality changes, cognitive problems and depression years later. This condition – known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – is associated with gradual build-up of a protein called tau in the brain. David Sharp at Imperial College London and his colleagues wondered if similar brain changes can occur after one bad head injury. […] The scans revealed that 15 of the participants have unusually high levels of tau protein in their brains, particularly in the outer layers. This is probably because the outer layers are most vulnerable to external impacts, Sharp’s team writes. […] High levels of tau have also been found in the outer brain layers of former athletes with CTE, particularly in those who have had the most head blows. This is consistent with the idea that brain deterioration can come from either several relatively minor brain injuries or from a single particularly severe one, writes the team. Both types of head injury probably damage brain structures called microtubules that are stabilised by tau proteins, say the researchers. This, in turn, could make the tau proteins turn rogue and start forming large tangled clumps that gradually harm the rest of the brain.

Doctors pushing new drugs don’t have to admit they are funded by the pill’s makers

A bright hope has suddenly appeared in depression therapy: the ‘party’ drug, ketamine. Known best as a horse tranquilliser, it is also used as an anaesthetic in hospitals. But ketamine can cause soaring highs and is used illegally, with potentially nightmarish results; the drug is addictive and can trigger psychosis. Recently, leading depression experts lined up at a London briefing to explain how an engineered version of the drug, called esketamine, promises a breakthrough in providing fast-acting help to sufferers of treatment-resistant depression. This severe form of depression carries a very high risk of suicide. Around a third of those affected will attempt to kill themselves at some point, according to Dutch research published last year.

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 September 4, 2019

Just two Diet Cokes a day ‘increases your risk of deadly heart attack or stroke by 50%’

The World Health Organisation research found the dangers from guzzling artificially sweetened pop were up to three times greater than regular sugary drinks. It suggests switching to sugar-free products – such as Diet Pepsi or Lucozade Zero – could be equally bad for health, if not worse. The study was carried out by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France, which is a part of the WHO. Lead researcher Dr Neil Murphy said: “The striking observation in our study was that we found positive associations for both sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened soft drinks with risk of all-cause deaths. “It would probably be prudent to limit consumption of all soft drinks and replace with a healthier alternative, such as water.” The research tracked participants for 16 years – including Brits – and is the largest study of its kind. It found chances of early death went up by eight per cent for those who consumed sugary drinks twice daily. But for those glugging two glasses of diet pop each day, the risk went up by 26 per cent. This group also saw their chance of being killed by cardiovascular disease rise by 52 per cent.

Study challenges idea that autism is caused by an overly masculine brain

Of the many proposed triggers for autism, one of the most controversial is the “extreme male brain” hypothesis. The idea posits that exposure to excess testosterone in the womb wires both men and women to have a hypermasculine view of the world, prioritizing stereotypically male behaviors like building machines over stereotypically female behaviors like empathizing with a friend. Now, a study is raising new doubts about this theory, finding no effect of testosterone on empathy in adult men. The work does not directly address whether high levels of prenatal testosterone cause autism or lack of empathy. That would require directly sampling the hormone in utero, which can endanger a developing fetus. But the new study’s large size—more than 600 men—makes it more convincing than similar research in the past, which included no more than a few dozen participants, experts say. […] There was no difference in performance on the empathy test between the placebo and testosterone groups in either study […] “Even when we tried to be very forgiving about it, there was nothing there. Like, no effect,” Nadler says.

Antidepressant medication may reduce empathic responses to the pain of others

A team of scientists in Austria have found evidence that antidepressant medication — rather than depression itself — can lead to reductions in empathy. Their findings appear in the journal Translational Psychiatry. “Although previous research reported reduced empathy in acute depression, we realized that these previous studies investigated groups of patients who were already undergoing antidepressant treatment,” explained study author Markus Rütgen of the University of Vienna. “As it has been shown that antidepressants such as serotonergic reuptake inhibitors influence emotional processing, we assumed that the previously reported lowered empathy could be related to the treatment, not to depression itself. Our study design allowed us to clearly disentangle effects of an acute episode of depression and antidepressants on empathy.” […] “While empathy during an acute episode was found to be on normal levels, antidepressant treatment seemed to downregulate empathic responses to the pain of others,” Rütgen told PsyPost.

China is deliberately using fentanyl to destroy the US, says dissident Chinese businessman

China is the United States’ largest source of fentanyl. Exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui revealed on his YouTube channel that fentanyl is actually the Chinese Communist regime’s “toxic weapon” in its covert warfare with the United States. The regime is fighting this war knowingly and willfully, and its intention is to use fentanyl to weaken, mangle, and ruin the United States. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. According to public data, in the 12-month period ending December 2018, synthetic opioid overdose deaths in the United States, mostly from fentanyl, increased to over 31,000 compared with the roughly 29,000 reported in the 12-month period ending December 2017.

Dog ownership boosts heart health

To avoid trips to the doctor, it’s best to spend time with your “dogtor.” A recent study published by Mayo Clinic has found that owning a dog improves heart health. The Kardiovize Brno 2030 study conducted in Central Europe tested 1769 subjects who were pet owners and found that dog owners benefited the most health-wise.  The State of Obesity, an organization dedicated to observing national obesity data and trends, reported that obesity rates are still “alarmingly high” so owning a dog can encourage increased physical activity.  The study analyzed pet owners and their relation to cardiovascular health factors. The two most imperative factors were obesity and high blood pressure, both contributing to major heart diseases. If the study was not convincing enough, Harvard University Medical School went as far as publishing and selling a special health report informing the public of the many health benefits of owning a dog. 

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 September 3, 2019

★ Child ADHD study shows micronutrients better than drugging

The results from a University of Canterbury (UC) study into the longer term effects of micronutrients on ADHD symptoms in children have been published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. The UC researchers aimed to determine the long-term effects of a broad-spectrum micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) treatment. […] “It showed that children who benefit in the short term from taking a broad-spectrum vitamin/mineral formula maintain those benefits or continue to improve when they keep taking it longer term, without side effects,” says Professor Julia Rucklidge […] “Continued micronutrient treatment was associated with improvements in ADHD symptoms which were similar to, or greater than, those associated with stimulant medication. Unlike stimulant medications, micronutrients were associated with improvements, rather than worsening, in mood and anxiety. This indicates that micronutrients can be a serious treatment option for those who choose not to take medications. Micronutrients may be especially helpful for children with ADHD who also have difficulties with mood or anxiety.”

Ian’s thoughts: Clearly this suggests that “ADHD” symptoms might actually be symptoms of nutritionally deficient diets. 

Personal stories are more influential than facts, says study

New research from social psychologists at Northwestern University suggests that a good story can make you overlook those pesky little things called facts. On the flip side of the coin, Rebecca Krause, the study’s coauthor found that the persuasiveness of strong facts was actually weakened by stories. That’s quite the double-edged sword you’ve got there. Basically, strong stories boost the validity of weak facts, but strong facts should be left to stand on their own merit. Men’s Variety spoke to consumer psychologist Bruce D. Sanders, PhD, SPHR about the study to get his impressions. He had this to say: “A good story beats out bare numbers in making the sale. The magic of stories is called ‘transportation’ by consumer psychologists. The shopper is transported into the tale.” Sanders goes on to say, “Personal stories help us identify similarities in characteristics and experiences. In addition, the disclosure delivered with a personal story provides us the safety to let down our guard, which facilitates both relationships and purchases.”

Military suicides top record despite government’s best efforts: ‘We have to do better’

The disturbing number has held steady for years: Roughly 20 U.S. military veterans take their own lives each day. The Defense Department reported a significant uptick last year in the number of active-duty and reserve men and women who died by suicide. The suicide rate among veterans ages 18 to 34, some of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan, shot up dramatically from 2015 to 2016, data show. Top officials from the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, joined by specialists from across the private sector, gathered this week to search for solutions to what has become one of the most persistent, painful and frustrating crises facing the military community. Although the nation has grappled with veteran suicides for more than a century — officials note that some of the first academic research on the issue appeared in 1915 — many of the core challenges remain.

Vitamin B6 supplements help people remember their dreams vividly

Researchers have found that taking vitamin B6 could help people to recall their dreams. The study published in the journal — Perceptual and Motor Skills — included 100 participants from around Australia taking high-dose vitamin B6 supplements before going to bed for five consecutive days. “Our results show that taking vitamin B6 improved people’s ability to recall dreams as compared to a placebo,” said research author Dr Denholm Aspy, from the University’s School of Psychology. […] The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study saw participants taking 240mg of vitamin B6 immediately before bed. Prior to taking the supplements, many of the participants rarely remembered their dreams, but they reported improvements by the end of the study. “It seems as time went on my dreams were clearer and clearer and easier to remember. I also did not lose fragments as the day went on,” said one of the participants after completing the study. According to another participant in the study, “My dreams were more real. I couldn’t wait to go to bed and dream!”


News & Information for September 2, 2019

MindFreedom: Origins of the c/s/x movement – Voices for Choices (10 of 13)

Many groups have led social change movements around the world, but most people have not heard of community organizing and activism led by survivors of human rights violations committed by the mental health system. People who have experienced mental health challenges are often quiet about their lives — people can lose their jobs, housing, friends, and liberty if the wrong person finds out their story. Over the years, many survivors of psychiatric human rights violations have bravely spoken out and led the movement for human rights of those harmed by the psychiatric system. Historically, the movement has gone by many names, such as the mad movement, consumer movement, survivor movement, and ex-patient movement. The all-inclusive name is the CSX movement.

The closer you live to nature the happier you’ll be, study finds

Researchers from The University of Warwick, Newcastle University, and The University of Sheffield have put together the first study ever to investigate and demonstrate the connection between natural, green areas and mental wellbeing on an individual level. Interestingly, they discovered that living close to nature and greenery is more relevant to mental health than income level, employment, and overall health. The study’s authors are hopeful that their findings will be considered by city planners and other policy makers in the future when considering the creation of additional green spaces in cities and other urban areas. Previous research has already established that people generally feel better after getting out and experiencing some nature and green foliage. However, the authors of this study wanted to identify just how much green space is needed, and how close it should be to a person’s home, in order for it to have a positive impact on mental health. […] “We believe this it is the first study to demonstrate how urban green spaces may improve a broader definition of mental wellbeing,” comments Dr. Victoria Houlden in a media release.“A lot of research focuses on poor mental health, or single aspects of wellbeing like life satisfaction. What makes our work different is the way we consider multi-dimensional mental wellbeing, in terms of happiness, life satisfaction and worth.”

New evidence that optimists live longer

After decades of research, a new study links optimism and prolonged life. Researchers have found that individuals with greater optimism are more likely to live longer and to achieve ‘exceptional longevity,’ that is, living to age 85 or older. […] Researchers […] have found that individuals with greater optimism are more likely to live longer and to achieve “exceptional longevity,” that is, living to age 85 or older. Optimism refers to a general expectation that good things will happen, or believing that the future will be favorable because we can control important outcomes. Whereas research has identified many risk factors that increase the likelihood of diseases and premature death, much less is known about positive psychosocial factors that can promote healthy aging. […] “This study has strong public health relevance because it suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan. Interestingly, optimism may be modifiable using relatively simple techniques or therapies.”

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.