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June 13, 2018

Daily Breaking News & Information

 

News 2019

 

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.”

 

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.

Psychotropics and the microbiome: a chamber of secrets…

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!”

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 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. 

News & Information for August 31 – September 1, 2019

 Explaining depression biologically increases prognostic pessimism

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

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

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

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

School-based mindfulness leads to stress reduction, study finds

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

The scary way antidepressants could affect your sleep

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

One-year-old prescribed antidepressants by NHS in Scotland

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

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

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

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

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

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for August 30, 2019

5 natural ways to strengthen your mind

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

Can you actually learn how to be happier?

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

Lavender oil significantly improves anxiety-induced insomnia

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

What smartphones are doing to your teenager’s mental health

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

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

Study says fast food may lead to depression in teens

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

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

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

News & Information for August 29, 2019

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

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

Are stimulants safe for children?

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

Is depression drug lauded by Trump oversold?

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

Teen birth control use linked to depression risk in adulthood

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

Does a broader concept of harm make us weaker?

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

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for August 28, 2019

Is your weight aging your brain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for August 27, 2019

It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the ’80s

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

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

 Antidepressant withdrawal and changing scientific consensus

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

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

The study: Antidepressant withdrawal – the tide is finally turning

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

Seoul’s over-65s disco ‘like medicine’ for seniors

 

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

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

News & Information for August 26, 2019

Risk of depressive relapse three times higher after previous antidepressant use

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

Temple stay beneficial to mental health, SNUH says

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

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

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

Peer-pressure can encourage patience and healthy eating

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

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for August 24-25, 2019

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

By Peter Breggin, MD & Michael Cornwall, PhD

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

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 08/21/19

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

How Exercise Benefits Overweight and Obese Individuals’ Brains

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

Swiss fact: Ritalin was invented in Switzerland

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

How exercise can help with first episode psychosis

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

Flower power: how they improve emotional well-being

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for August 23, 2019

 Science again upholds the notion that love is good for us

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

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

Antipsychotics cause short-term somatic serious adverse events

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

Poor air quality linked to bipolar disorder, depression

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

Montreal researcher says new study suggests autism overdiagnosed

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

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for August 22, 2019

Science says people like you more than you know

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

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

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

What’s the upside of feeling insecure?

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

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for August 21, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brain aberration associated with the “therapeutic effect” of ECT

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

Grape compound ‘may be alternative to drugs’ in fight against depression

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

Stimulants impair sleep, working memory in healthy young adults

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

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

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

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

News & Information for August 20, 2019

Psychosocial approaches to schizophrenia with limited antipsychotic use

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

Adding Prozac to cognitive behavioral therapy for youth added no benefit

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

Consumer Reports: Medications that make you sensitive to the sun

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

 

 

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

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

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

News & Information for August 19, 2019

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

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

No evidence for brain asymmetry in depression

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

Study links fluoridated water during pregnancy to lower IQs

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

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

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

In Defense of Anger

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

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

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

News & Information for August 17-18, 2019

ADHD medication may affect brain development in children

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

Exercise your blues away

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

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

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

Ritalin may cause stuttering

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

Complex effects of lifetime cannabis use on schizophrenia 

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

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

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

News & Information for August 16, 2019

Are dogs or cats better at curing loneliness?

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

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

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

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

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

Toxic Pssychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for August 15, 2019

DNA test for antidepressants raises FDA doubts; myriad drops

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

Electroconvulsive therapy given without proper authorisation at Royal Darwin Hospital

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

How overeating changes the brain

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

Study: Sharing your dreams with others boosts emotional intelligence

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

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

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

News & Information for August 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To really learn, our children need the power of play

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

Candid questions about biological psychiatry

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for August 13, 2019

Craig Wiener – ADHD: A Return to Psychology

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

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

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

Time your showers and baths for better sleep

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

Social contact during midlife appears to lower dementia risk

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

Prescription drug misuse common in high schoolers

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for August 12, 2019

Physical exercise is an important preventative medicine for depression

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

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

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

Antidepressants and the national suicide epidemic

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

Disturbing rise in teens needing glasses blamed on excessive screen time

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

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

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

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for August 10-11, 2019

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

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

NY governor suggests creating a database of people with mental illness

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

Does Vitamin D supplementation reduce ADHD symptoms?

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

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy found superior to antidepressants

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

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

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

Staying hydrated can help your mental health, research shows

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

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for August 9, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Show – August 7, 2019

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

Optimistic people sleep better, longer, study finds

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

New study reveals the secret to dealing with anxiety

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

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for August 8, 2019

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

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

Dark chocolate for depression? Science says ‘Yes’

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

‘Yoga therapy saved my sanity, and life’

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for August 7, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for August 6, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helping people come off medication – bad for business?

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

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

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

Medication for depression: what are my other options?

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

Medication Madness – The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime

Medication Madness reads like a medical thriller, true crime story, and courtroom drama; but it is firmly based in the latest scientific research and dozens of case studies. The lives of the children and adults in these stories, as well as the lives of their families and their victims, were thrown into turmoil and sometimes destroyed by the unanticipated effects of psychiatric drugs.  In some cases our entire society was transformed by the tragic outcomes.

News & Information for August 5, 2019

Alert 112: WORST EVER THREAT TO OUR CHILDREN’S BRAINS

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

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

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

Peter R. Breggin

Staying Socially Active May Offset Risk of Cognitive Decline

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

US seniors fulfill dreams, fight depression with virtual reality

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

Gardening to Prevent Loneliness Ranks Among Tips for Better Aging

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

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

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

News & Information for August 3-4, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Cardiovascular Risk Profile Associated With Antipsychotic Use in Schizophrenia

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

TOOTH TALK: Medications’ effects on oral health

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for August 2, 2019

 

How much does alcohol harm people besides the drinker?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for August 1, 2019

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

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

Want to be happier? Live near water, research shows

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

Psychiatric diagnosis ‘scientifically meaningless’

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for July 31, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may help youth with anxiety disorders

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

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

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

Brains work in sync during music therapy

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

Half of young people with ADHD receive antipsychotics without proper indication

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

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for July 30, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – July 24, 2019

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

Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors may reduce psychiatric medications in Alzheimer disease

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

Babies display empathy for victims as early as 6 months

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

                           

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

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

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

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for July 29, 2019

What we eat can affect our mental health

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

Busting school stress with happiness classes

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

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

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

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for July 27-28, 2019

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

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

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

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

Scientists use optogenetics to make mice hallucinate

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

Schizophrenia significantly associated with increased risk for substance abuse

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

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

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

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for July 26, 2019

Ultra-processed diets cause excess calorie intake and weight gain

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

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

Learned Mindfulness: A novel emotional intelligence perspective

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

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

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

News & Information for July 25, 2019

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

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

A Simple Guide to Understanding Psychological Research

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

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

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

The Antidepressant Fact Book – by Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for July 24, 2019

Alert 110: Let’s talk about HBO’s documentary “I Love You, Now Die”

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

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

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

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

Nursing home residents turned into ‘zombies’ on antipsychotics

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

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

Facility aims to treat mental health disorders without medication

BROOKLINE, Vt. (WCAX) When it comes to addiction, the focus is often on the opioid crisis. But mental health experts say other disorders are contributing to the problem and they say prescribing more drugs may not be the solution. Our Adam Sullivan shows you another option in Brookline. “Typically the psychiatrists medicate them but they are not dealing with the issues at hand,” said Beatrice Birch of Inner Fire. Doctors and counselors are part of Inner Fire’s mission to address those underlying problems. But the facility also uses art and community chores, like gardening and wood chopping, to give Rico and others more of a stake in their own recovery.

The nonprofit raised $1 million for the new housing unit. It’s looking to raise another $1.7 million for more beds and a meeting space. On this day, journalist and author Robert Whitaker spoke about his life’s work writing about medicine. When it comes to treating mental health, he says the system is failing, relying too often on prescription drugs. “The outcomes for people in the United States and other rich countries are much worse than they are in the poor countries of the world for the same diagnosis. And actually, long-term recovery rates for people diagnosed with schizophrenia are now worse than they have been in 100 years,” Whitaker said. […] “We help strengthen them on a deeper soul-spiritual level, their reasons why they went to the doctor in the first place,” Birch said.

You can listen to Dr. Whitaker on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, appearing on the 06/04/1208/12/1504/13/1604/12/17 and 07/10/19 shows.

3 crucial ways to avoid burnout

Working a 70-hour week isn’t cool. It means that you have sacrificed something important – exercise, time with family, downtime. I cringe when a client tells me they work a 60- to 70-hour workweek. Overwork can take a toll on you in ways you may not even realize. […] So, let’s assume that you’ve seen the light. You know you are at risk of burnout and you are ready to do something about it. Here are three ways to begin: 1. Exercise. Strength training has been shown to have a strong impact on brain function, which reduces the effects of overwhelm. In one study, just 20 minutes of leg strength exercises enhanced long-term memory by 10%. Research has proven that exercise promotes brain health by releasing hormones, which encourage the growth of new brain cells. This process is known as neurogenesis or neuroplasticity. […] 2. Gain control over your “monkey mind.” Just ten minutes of meditation a day can help train your busy mind to fall silent at your command. This comes in super handy when your mind starts racing at 2:00 a.m. A regular practice of meditation can help you sleep better. 3. Set clear boundaries. Declare what time you will leave the office. Dinner with the family is no longer a thing for people who work over-long. When Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, insisted on leaving the office at 5:30 every day to get home for dinner with her two kids, the Wall Street Journal said her announcement “stunned the world.” […]

Study: Trigger warnings actually hurt trauma survivors

Trigger warnings, popular on college campuses, are warnings offered in advance of potentially upsetting discussions or content, meant to minimize harm and offense. But they might have the exact opposite of their intended effect, according to a Harvard study released this month […] They found that: “Most empirical studies on trigger warnings indicate that they are either functionally inert or cause small adverse side effects. We found substantial evidence that trigger warnings counter therapeutically reinforce survivors’ view of their trauma as central to their identity.” […] This study was a replication of a previous study conducted last year by the same psychologists on exclusively non-traumatized participants. The 2018 study found that trigger warnings increase people’s perceived emotional vulnerability to trauma and their belief that trauma survivors are vulnerable. The study also found that trigger warnings increase anxiety to written material perceived as harmful, but do not affect people’s implicit self-identification as vulnerable or their subsequent anxiety response to less distressing content. […] A March 2019 study conducted by researchers from the City University of New York and the University of Waikato found that trigger warnings had no effect on how much participants were bothered by troubling images and words, even for those with a history of trauma, according to Reason. But despite the repeated findings that trigger warnings either have no effect on or hurt students, they remain popular with faculty on American college campuses. In 2016, an NPR survey of non-elite university professors found that just over half of all 800 respondents used trigger warnings in class. Most reported that they incorporated the warnings of their own accord, and not upon student request or due to administrative requirements.

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 July 23, 2019

Medical study links miscarriages to anti-anxiety pills

A new medical study links miscarriages to pills you might have in your medicine cabinet. “I wouldn’t be a functioning person if I did not have this medication in my body,” Angelita Hernandez says. She’s been taking benzodiazepines, commonly known as anti-anxiety pills, for nearly 30 years. “I took it as prescribed,” Hernandez says. She Skyped with the Trouble Shooters from Missouri about her struggle to have a baby. “You’ve had a dream: to become a mother,” reporter Emily Baucum says. “I miscarried my first. And a couple of years later miscarried my second. And a couple of years later I miscarried my third,” Hernandez says. Doctors told her she was healthy enough to give birth. But now, a medical study published by JAMA Psychiatry reveals a link between prescription pills and miscarriages. “We know that both opioids and benzodiazepines both cross the placenta,” says Dr. Matthew Retzloff from the Fertility Center of San Antonio. He broke down the study’s findings for the Trouble Shooters. “The study actually revealed an increased risk – 1.8-fold, almost a two-fold, increase – when they looked at exposure to benzodiazepines and women who had miscarriages,” Dr. Retzloff says.

Gut microbial enzymatic pathways offer a potential way for improving treatment outcomes in Parkinson’s disease

The microorganisms inhabiting the human gut can alter the chemical structures of drugs, leading to changes in their bioavailability, toxicity and efficacy. Although the gut microbial enzymes responsible for these chemical modifications are poorly understood, microbial mediation of therapeutic effects has been reported for metformin, chemotherapeutic drugs and antidepressants. A gut microbial enzymatic pathway is involved in metabolizing the drug levodopa and might affect drug availability, according to new research led by Dr. Emily P. Balskus from Harvard University. Previous research in 1971 showed for the first time the contribution of human gut microbiota in metabolizing levodopa to dopamine and then to m-tyramine. Maini Rekdal and colleagues have gone a step further by identifying which gut microbes, genes and enzymes are involved. By screening the Human Microbiome Project dataset, it was found that the enzyme tyrosine decarboxylase, which is involved in converting levodopa to dopamine, was more abundant in the Enterococcus and Lactobacillus genera. Within them, E. faecalis was the most efficient strain at decarboxylating levodopa. Consistent with these findings, a recent study has shown that higher amounts of gut bacterial tyrosine decarboxylases from patients with Parkinson’s disease are associated with increasing levodopa dosage and disease duration.

Dropping F-bomb increases pain tolerance by a third, study finds

Can’t help but shout an expletive every time you stub your toe? Don’t feel too bad, you may actually be doing yourself a favor. A new study finds that swearing when injured has a measurable effect on pain tolerance. In fact, dropping the F-bomb specifically when in pain increases tolerance by up to 33%. The study, led by a group of language and psychology experts in the United Kingdom, explored how effective established, new, and invented swear words can be in increasing pain tolerance and pain threshold.

Chili peppers associated with almost doubled risk of senility

 Here’s something to consider the next time you’re thinking about ordering a spicy dish: a new long-term international study has found that a spicy diet could lead to dementia. According to the study, older adults over the age of 55 who consumed more than 50 grams of chili per day displayed nearly double the risk of developing poor cognition and a decline in overall memory. Interestingly, slimmer adults indulging in a spicy diet exhibited even more significant memory loss. “Chili consumption was found to be beneficial for body weight and blood pressure in our previous studies. However, in this study, we found adverse effects on cognition among older adults,” lead researcher Dr. Zumin Shi explains in a statement.

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 July 22, 2019

Let the patient beware

About 15 years ago,  I convinced one of my doctors to prescribe some generic Wellbutrin (bupropion XL ) for me. The product had been advertised as a game changer for depression. My doctor, at that time, was reluctant at first; but he eventually succumbed to my repeated requests and wrote the prescription. Now, unlike many people, I actually read some of the warning fliers that come with medicines. Bupropion had an interesting list of precautions, along the lines of: if thoughts of suicide or violence occur, call your doctor right away. That warning jumped out at me. One might go to sleep waiting for the medicine’s effect to kick in, like Dr. Jekyll, and wake up as Mr. Hyde. The problem is that in a Mr. Hyde operating state, one may not be predisposed to call the doctor for advice. True, this may not happen to most people, but it happens to enough to be newsworthy.

3 ways to make friends with scary or negative thoughts

Did you count the number of thoughts you had today? If you laughed at that question or found it ludicrous to consider because of the onslaught of thoughts you experience daily, I wouldn’t blame you. Let’s suppose you averaged 15-20 thoughts per minute. That means you could potentially have in the neighborhood of around 15,000-20,000 thoughts in the course of a day. Now, regardless of exactly how many thoughts you have, here’s what I do want you to consider: How many of those thousands of thoughts tell you something really profound about who you are? How many are just reactive thoughts? Random thoughts? Conditioned thoughts? Habitual thoughts? In other words, what is your relationship with your thoughts? Do you rigidly follow thoughts as if they were commands from above declaring the absolute truth? Do anxious thoughts frighten you and keep you from finding joy and happiness? Or, are you able to find amusement in even the more outlandish thoughts that randomly flash across the mind’s eye? 

HBO documentary paints never before seen portrait of Michelle Carter

One of the key witnesses for Ms Carter was Dr Peter Breggin, who was called to the stand on day five of the trial as part of the defence. He was originally employed to investigate whether the medication Mr Roy was on made him suicidal. Mr Roy was on antidepressants and psychiatric drugs. “They can cause suicide,” Dr Breggin says. “I concluded it was a contributing factor, but not an overwhelming factor. There were many other things impinging on Conrad.” Dr Breggin then became interested in Ms Carter’s side of the story, realising she was also on psychiatric drugs, namely Prozac (fluoxetine), which she had been taking since the age of 14. “She should’ve never been given Prozac, because she was bulimic and that would increase the power of Prozac over her, and not long after her first exposure she (tried to kill herself). “Now, at the same moment, Conrad Roy, whom at that point she thought was a sweet boyfriend without any problems, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a serious suicide attempt.”

Why cleaning is good for your mental health

When some people are feeling stressed or anxious they might stick on a mindfulness app or book themselves a relaxing massage. But for others swiping the mop across the kitchen floor or giving the shelves a quick dust can be every bit as beneficial for mental health as meditation. For some of us, even the sight of a clean and tidy home, can help temporarily blunt the effects of a stressful day. But why does getting busy with the bleach have such a positive impact on our mental wellbeing? There are a few explanations for why cleanliness could help to lower stress and anxiety levels, says Vicky Motley, Brand Manager at Zoflora. “Cleaning has been found to have positive effects on our mental health by helping us gain a sense of control over our environment, whilst being absorbed in the activity itself can also help calm your mind,” she says. “It has also been found to help improve mood and provide us with a sense of satisfaction.”

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

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

News & Information for July 20-21, 2019

Positive antidepressant study “misleading” and “erroneous”

New research by the Nordic Cochrane Center has challenged last year’s positive study about antidepressant efficacy. The authors write: “The evidence does not support definitive conclusions regarding the benefits of antidepressants for depression in adults. It is unclear whether antidepressants are more efficacious than placebo.” Manyanalyses of the research on antidepressant drugs have found that they are no better than placebo for the treatment of depression. These results have been especially reliable for mildto moderate depression, and especially when unpublished trials of the drug are included. At best, the drugs show an incremental improvementover placebo, which is not clinically detectable. However, a study in The Lancet last year, led by Andrea Cipriani and conducted by authors with strong ties to numerous pharmaceutical companies, suggested that previous research was mistaken and that the drugs were effective. Nonetheless, researchers have suggested that the Cipriani study was flawed in multiple ways. Now, a new study using the rigorous procedures of the Cochrane Collaboration has challenged that controversial positive conclusion put forth by Cipriani and his colleagues. Now, a new study using the rigorous procedures of the Cochrane Collaboration has challenged that controversial positive conclusion put forth by Cipriani and his colleagues.

In China, mental health care goes virtual

Virtual reality is touted as having the potential to transform how doctors diagnose and treat a number of mental illnesses, and the front lines of this revolution may be forming in China. The country’s troubled psychiatric services are notoriously swamped, a situation signaling that its market is wide open for innovation—and that developers have an opportunity to leapfrog past traditional care models and make China an early adopter of VR psychiatry on a large scale. VR psychiatric applications include immersing patients in simulations that seem real, exposing their brain—but not their body—to challenging situations and helping them learn to hone their physical and emotional responses. For example, a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder can visit a virtual version of Iraq or Afghanistan from the safety of a therapist’s office, an alcohol-addicted patient can sit at a virtual bar without drinking, and a person too anxious to fly can “experience” takeoff and landing while staying firmly on the ground. Such treatments can yield fast, dramatic results: in one case a woman with a debilitating fear of heights could calmly ride an escalator after a three-hour course of VR exposure therapy.

Stigma and discrimination linked to the biomedical model of mental health

Throughout human history, it has been common for certain behaviors to be considered normal and others abnormal. And yet, such distinctions have not always been made on the basis of medical knowledge, as they often are today. A new research paper, published in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, traces some of the ways that explanations for mental distress have changed over time, setting a historical context to think about how biomedical explanations for behaviors have become so popular. Specifically, the article examines how biomedical characterizations of mental disorders—e.g., thinking about distress as ‘mental illness’—relate to beliefs and attitudes about those who have received a diagnosis. […] The authors situate their study within a growing body of literature that suggests that mental health clinicians are more likely to assume psychological distress is caused by biological factors than other possible explanations. Their paper argues that privileging biology over other causes has significant consequences for clinical decision-making practices, while also affecting how diagnosed individuals understand themselves through their diagnoses.

Potential ‘landmark’ settlement reached on use of psychotropic drugs in foster care

Missouri has reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit that litigants hope will set some precedent on a once-hot-button subject in child welfare: the use of psychotropic medication to treat youth in foster care. “The Missouri case is the first federal class-action lawsuit in the country to focus solely on the common practice of administering powerful psychotropic medications to youth in foster care, often as a means of behavior control rather than to treat a diagnosed mental health disorder,” said Sarah Bartosz, deputy director of litigation strategy at Children’s Rights, which brought the lawsuit, M.B. v Corsi. “The fact that Missouri will be implementing a systemic solution to the problem … will send a clear message to other states with the same problem to take action and provide a road map for how credibly to fix broken systems.” […] “All too often, accurate and complete medical information is not shared with either foster parents or physicians,” the complaint filed against Missouri said. “Moreover, the state has no system in place to avoid subjecting children to ‘outlier’ – too much, and too many, too young – prescriptions.”

Held 9 months against will

An Alberta judge has found parts of the province’s Mental Health Act unconstitutional after it was used to hold a man against his will for nine months and treat him with psychiatric drugs. “(The man) suffered multiple breaches of his fundamental rights to life, liberty and security,” wrote Queen’s Bench Justice Kristine Eidsvik in a ruling released Wednesday. Eidsvik was addressing issues left over from a 2015 ruling, which originally allowed the man, a member of a B-C First Nation, to leave the Calgary hospital in which he had been detained. The issues she ruled on this week involved constitutional matters. According to Eidsvik’s written decision, the man was originally brought to Calgary Foothills hospital in 2014 with injuries suffered in a hit-and-run. He was treated and released, but during his stay the then-49-year-old lost his apartment and was homeless upon his release. He wound up living in a home for substance abusers and was subsequently re-admitted to hospital for further treatment for his previous injuries, as well as other ailments. After 20 days, the man improved and asked to be released. Instead, he was detained under the Mental Health Act. Doctors wrote he was “disoriented, lacks insight into seriousness of his medical condition … (has) unsteady gait.”

Child psychiatry telephone programs help increase mental health services for children

Telephone hotlines that allow primary care doctors to immediately consult with a child psychiatrist about urgent patient problems appears to increase the number of children who receive aid, offering one strategy to help more children receive mental health services, according to a new study from the nonprofit RAND Corporation. Examining the growth of such services from 2009 to 2015, researchers found that parents of children who lived in states with child psychiatric telephone access programs were significantly more likely to say their children received mental health services than parents of children in states without such programs. The study is the first to examine the influence of child psychiatric telephone access programs on a national level. The findings are published online by the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. “These findings suggest that telephone access programs may be one strategy to improve the proportion of children who receive help for their mental health needs,” said Dr. Bradley D. Stein, the study’s lead author and a physician scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

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

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

News & Information for July 19, 2019

Common medications can masquerade as dementia in seniors

By all accounts the woman, in her late 60s, appeared to have severe dementia. She was largely incoherent. Her short-term memory was terrible. She couldn’t focus on questions that medical professionals asked her. But Dr. Malaz Boustani, a professor of aging research at Indiana University School of Medicine, suspected something else might be going on. The patient was taking Benadryl for seasonal allergies, another antihistamine for itching, Seroquel (an antipsychotic medication) for mood fluctuations, as well as medications for urinary incontinence and gastrointestinal upset. To various degrees, each of these drugs blocks an important chemical messenger in the brain, acetylcholine. Boustani thought the cumulative impact might be causing the woman’s cognitive difficulties. He was right. Over six months, Boustani and a pharmacist took the patient off those medications and substituted alternative treatments. Miraculously, she appeared to recover completely. Her initial score on the Mini-Mental State Exam had been 11 of 30 — signifying severe dementia — and it shot up to 28, in the normal range.

Diet rich in fattening foods linked with depression in mice models: study

A new study conducted on mice has now revealed that a diet rich fatty foods and junk foods disrupts function of the brain and may trigger depression. Fatty foods typically include fast foods like hamburgers, pizzas and pastas, as well as desserts like chocolates, cupcakes, candies, which are all rich in empty calories, saturated fats and are also rich refined carbs. The study […] was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry and it revealed the molecular link between depression and obesity in mice models. The researchers looked a tiny area of the brain called hypothalamus for answers while investigating this link. Hypothalamus is tiny but it regulates a number of key body behaviours and emotions and a range of other functions like circadian rhythms, weight and growth, salt and water balance and even libido. The subject mice were fed a high-fat diet and then put through a number of tests to examine the physical manifestation of obesity.

Exploring the value of peer support for mental health

Peer support — when individuals who have experienced mental illness and recovery help others — has become increasingly popular. Dr Nicola Davies explores the scientific evidence behind peer support, as well as the personal experiences of peer counselors and psychotherapists. Systematic reviews have confirmed that, while peer support and clinical practice typically perform fairly equally on traditional outcome measures like rehospitalization and relapse, peer support scores better in areas related to the recovery process.¹ In particular, peer support tends to offer greater levels of self‐efficacy, empowerment, and engagement.² This mechanism of benefit could come from the social connectedness experienced from interacting with peers, with one study showing that people with serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychoses value the sense of group belonging that comes from sharing personal stories.³ The mutual exchange of strategies to cope with the everyday challenges of living with a mental illness is also an important aspect of the peer-to-peer community.

New study suggests link between autism and gender dysphoria

A new study suggests a link between autism, autistic traits, and identifying as transgender or non-binary, raising new questions about the growing use of so-called “gender transition” procedures as a treatment for gender dysphoria. The study, which was released July 14 and will appear in the September issue of the academic journal European Psychiatry […] Of the 177 people studied, four percent of those identifying their gender with their biological sex were diagnosed with autism. For the transgender or non-binary group, that figure rose to 14%. An additional 28% of the transgender or non-binary group exhibited traits that would result in an autism diagnosis, which the authors of the study say could mean that autism is potentially being underdiagnosed, particularly among girls. […] “The statistics we have been made aware of show that more and more young people, particularly girls, are using health services to explore changing their gender,” said Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Women & Equalities. […] “This is another in an ever-growing list of studies which reveal just how little we know about the underlying causes of gender dysphoria,” said Anderson. “It should prompt people to exercise great caution before making any life-altering medical interventions on the bodies of young people,” he added.

 

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 July 18, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Show – July 17, 2019

Once again Jeffrey Masson and I have a drama filled show about both psychoanalysis and psychiatry, and how both in different ways have betrayed the trust given them by society and by their patients.  Jeff provides intimate details about his discovery that Freud, and then his psychoanalyst daughter named Anna Freud, hid the truth that women were being abused by men.  Instead, they told their patients and the world the lie that the abuse of children never happened and was all a fantasy called the Oedipus Complex.   Jeff enlightened me about Dr. Asperger, viewed as an authority on autism, who curried favor with the Nazis by sending toddlers and young children to cruel deaths at the hands of organized medicine and psychiatry during World War II.   I add some details on the murder of mental patients by psychiatry as a prelude to the Holocaust.  The recent series of three  shows with Jeffrey are worth listening to as a group.  They touch on the evil perpetrated by mental health professionals in power and, in sharp contrast, on the love we share with animals.   Jeff has written great books on both animals and humans. 

Do antidepressants work better than placebo?

Scientists have been debating the efficacy of antidepressants for decades. The latest paper to throw its hat into the ring concludes that there is little evidence to show that they perform better than placebos. […] The review, which now appears in BMJ Open, is a response to a paper by Dr. Andrea Cipriani and team that The Lancet published in February 2018. In the paper, Dr. Cipriani and team compared the performance of 21 antidepressants. […] Their analysis was the largest of its kind; it included 522 trials and 116,477 participants. The researchers concluded that, among other things, “[a]ll antidepressants were more efficacious than placebo in adults with major depressive disorder.” For many, these findings were definitive proof that antidepressants work. […] Led by Dr. Klaus Monkholm, the authors of the new publication believe that the earlier work by Dr. Cipriani did not address certain biases in the data. Dr. Monkholm and others initially penned a critique in The Lancet in September 2018.

Because so many people use antidepressants, the scientists decided to go beyond the critique. They set out to repeat Dr. Cipriani’s analysis, but this time, they would account for the biases they believe the team missed the first time. […] Firstly, in the original paper, Dr. Cipriani and his team reported that they followed the protocol set out in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions — the gold standard approach to these types of analysis. However, Dr. Monkholm points out occasions where their work deviated from these guidelines. The new BMJ Open paper also explains how Dr. Cipriani’s work did not adequately address publication bias. The authors write: “Publication bias of antidepressant trials is pervasive and distorts the evidence base. Many industry funded antidepressant trials remain unpublished or are inadequately reported. […] Taken together, the evidence does not support definitive conclusions regarding the efficacy of antidepressants for depression in adults, including whether they are more efficacious than placebo for depression.” 

Get your head in the game: Research shows mindfulness in relationship is key to a happy couple

A Florida State University researcher has found that an individual’s ability to be mindful or stay in the present has a profound effect on a romantic partner’s happiness. Assistant Professor of Family and Child Sciences Jonathan Kimmes published a new study in the Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy that found romantic partners were much happier and less stressed when they were able to show mindfulness when interacting with their significant other. “Relationship mindfulness is that tendency to be present with your partner in a nonjudgmental way,” Kimmes said. “It’s one thing to be mindful when you are at the grocery store, but can you be mindful with the person you are most intimate with?” […] “To me as a therapist, these results suggest that this area could be a promising target for clinical interventions,” Kimmes said. “There are many mindfulness practices that could work with clients, so which ones should you choose? We should look at practices specific to relationships for people seeking therapy in that area.”

4 Simple Ways to Practice Mindfulness, Even if You’re a Total Beginner

A common misconception about mindfulness is that you need years of practice and skill in order to reap its benefits. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Beginners tend to benefit most from brief (think: less than 10 minutes) mindfulness exercises, Nicholas Watier, Ph.D., a professor in experimental psychology at Brandon University who researches mindfulness, tells Thrive. With this in mind, how can you practice mindfulness in specific, accessible ways — no matter your experience level? We’ve compiled a few simple exercises to jump-start — or continue — your mindfulness journey (minus the intimidation factor):

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for July 17, 2019

Pet your worries away: study finds just 10 minutes with cats, dogs tangibly lowers stress

It doesn’t take a scientific study to know that spending some time with a cuddly cat or friendly dog will probably put you in a better mood. That being said, researchers from Washington State University have found objective, physiological evidence that just 10 minutes spent petting a cat or dog will lower stress levels.

Numerous colleges and universities across the United States have already implemented “Pet Your Stress Away” programs for students feeling stressed out about finals, papers, or anything else going on at school. Stressed students can spend some time with a dog or cat and hopefully put themselves in a more relaxed mood. However, the study’s authors say that these types of programs do much more than just improve students’ moods; spending time with a furry friend incites a tangible, physiological response that lowers stress levels. “Just 10 minutes can have a significant impact,” explains author Patricia Pendry in a release. “Students in our study that interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.”

Psychotherapy likely superior to psychopharmacology for adult PTSD

Meta-analyses using long-term data suggest the superiority of psychotherapeutic treatments over pharmacologic treatments for adults with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to study results published in JAMA Psychiatry. […] “Based on a comprehensive aggregation of all available direct comparisons, our results suggest clinically significant inferiority of pharmacological monotherapies in the long term,” investigators wrote. They added, “The scarcity of reported long-term findings hampers definite conclusions and demonstrates the need for robust evidence from large-scaled comparative trials providing long-term follow-up data.”

The Antidepressant Fact Book – by Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for July 16, 2019

Iatrogenic disorders in psychiatry are common and neglected

In a paper published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Giovanni Fava and Chiara Rafanelli analyze the literature concerned with iatrogenic disorders in psychiatry, which may be due to medications or psychotherapy. The side effects and risks associated with the medical intervention are defined as iatrogenesis. In psychiatry, iatrogenesis has traditionally been concerned with medical complications of psychotropic drug treatment. As it happened with medical therapy, side effects of psychiatric treatments have been conceptualized as the unavoidable drawbacks of any form of medical therapy. Little attention has been paid to the adverse psychological and behavioral effects of psychiatric treatment on psychopathology and illness course. Current classification systems in psychiatry fail to consider the iatrogenic components of psychopathology related to behavioral toxicity. Affective disturbances caused by medical drugs, as well as paradoxical effects, manifestations of tolerance (loss of clinical effect, refractoriness), withdrawal and post-withdrawal disorders, are increasingly common due to the widespread use of psychotropic drugs in the general population. Such neglect is serious, since manifestations of behavioral toxicity are unlikely to respond to standard psychiatric treatments and may be responsible for the wide spectrum of disturbances subsumed under the generic rubric of treatment resistance. The term “iatrogenic comorbidity” refers to the unfavorable modifications in the course, characteristics, and responsiveness to treatment of an illness that may be related to previously administered therapies. Such modifications may also lead to a serial development of multiple medical and psychiatric complications (cascade iatrogenesis).

Mayo Clinic study: HIIT has ‘anti-ageing benefits’

A study by Mayo Clinic has suggested that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can reverse signs of ageing at the cellular level. The research, published in the Cell Metabolism journal, studied 72 sedentary adults divided into two age groups of “young” (18 to 30 years old) and “older” (65 to 80 years old). Each individual was then assigned one of three 12-week workout routines – HIIT cycling, strength training or a regime combining the two. All training types improved lean body mass and insulin sensitivity, but only HIIT and combined training improved aerobic capacity and mitochondrial function for skeletal muscle. A decline in mitochondrial content and function are common in older adults. HIIT also improved muscle protein content that not only enhanced energetic functions but also caused muscle enlargement, especially in older adults. […] “We encourage everyone to exercise regularly, but the take-home message for ageing adults that supervised HIIT is probably best, because, both metabolically and at the molecular level, it confers the most benefits,” said K. Sreekumaran Nair, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and senior researcher on the study.

Australia: Rate of drug-induced deaths on the rise, new report finds

There were 1,795 drug-induced deaths among Australians in 2017, according to preliminary estimates released in a new report by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney. Analyses showed that most of these deaths were accidental. Opioids were the main drug cited in drug-induced deaths occurring in Australians in 2017 (1,171 deaths), with most of these deaths attributed to pharmaceutical opioids. The rate of deaths involving opioids has increased over the past decade. There have also been increasing rates of drug-induced deaths involving other medicines. In 2017, there were 824 drug-induced deaths among Australians that involved benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam), which are often prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders, and 340 deaths that involved antipsychotics (e.g., quetiapine), which are typically prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Low levels of Vitamin D associated with depression in older adults

Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were negatively associated with the risk for depression in a large cohort of older adults, according to results from a study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Researchers conducted a dose-response meta-analysis of 6 prospective cohort studies that included a total of 16,287 adults age 55 years or older. In total, 1157 cases of depression were analyzed. Major databases were searched for studies that investigated the association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations and the risk for depression. Subsequently, a random-effects model was used to analyze dose-response relationships and measure a pooled hazard ratio. After statistical analysis, the researchers reported that each 10 ng/mL rise in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was associated with a 12% reduction in the risk for depression (pooled hazard ratio, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.78-0.99; P <.001). In addition, a linear dose-response relationship was seen between incident depression and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels (P =.96 for nonlinearity). One key limitation of the study was the observational design.

Ian’s thoughts: Because the studies reviewed were observational, this result cannot determine causation. My hunch is it’s not that low Vitamin D causes depression but rather low Vitamin D is caused by not getting outside enough to get sufficient sunshine to maintain healthy Vitamin D levels, and not getting outside much causes depression. 

Too much social media a depression risk for teens

 Too much social media might be too much for the mental well-being of teenagers, new research suggests. The more that teens used social media and watched television, the greater their risk of depression, the study found. “Our research reveals that increased time spent using some forms of digital media in a given year predicts depressive symptoms within that same year,” said senior study author Patricia Conrod, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal. According to the study co-author Elroy Boers, “Social media and television are forms of media that frequently expose adolescents to images of others operating in more prosperous situations, such as other adolescents with perfect bodies and a more exciting or rich lifestyle.” Boers is a post-doctoral researcher in the department of psychiatry at the university.

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 July 15, 2019

World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day 2019

This week on MIA Radio, we present a special episode of the MIA podcast to join in the many events being held for World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day, July 11, 2019.

In our two-part podcast, we hear from W-BAD volunteer and Project Manager for W-BAD Rocks of Kindness, Janelle. We also chat with physician and Director of the Benzodiazepine Information Coalition Christy Huff MD. Finally, in part two, we hear from Stephen Wright MD, addiction specialist and medical consultant to the Alliance for Benzodiazepine Best Practices.

A major asthma drugmaker has been quietly investing in coal on the side

The pharmaceutical company that just months ago was embroiled in a price-gouging scandal over its life-saving EpiPen now finds itself at the center of another potential controversy. According to Reuters’ Michael Erman, Mylan N.V. has for the last six years been buying up refined coal in order to reduce its tax bill and boost its bottom line: […]  The sketchy part […] is that two out of Mylan’s five specialty brand-name drugs treat pulmonary problems that are exacerbated by air pollution, a lot of which comes from coal. The company makes Perforomist, an inhaler that treats symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as prevents asthma attacks and exercise-induced bronchial spasm. Multiple studies have linked exacerbated COPD symptoms to air pollution, though those links are suggestive and not conclusive. Mylan is also in the asthma treatment market; the company makes EasiVent, which attaches to asthma inhalers to help the medicine more easily reach the lungs, and it recently failed to get regulatory approval for a generic version of the blockbuster asthma drug Advair. Peer-reviewed science has been linking coal combustion to more severe asthma since at least 1972.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Reduces Migraine-Related Disability

In a study (NCT02443519) presented today at the American Headache Society (AHS) 61st Annual Scientific Meeting, it was shown that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) reduced perceived migraine-related disability. In other words, people with migraine who used mindfulness based cognitive therapy felt better even though the severity and frequency of migraine was not decreased with this treatment. These results are important because despite improved treatments for people with migraine, there are few treatments that completely eliminate all migraine, making additional ways to manage migraines of great importance to people with migraine.  This effect was highest in the individuals with episodic headache and significantly better than for other treatment groups (P = .013). Of those with episodic headache who received MBCT-M, 40.0% moved from severe disability to mild/moderate disability on the Migraine Disability Assessment (MIDAS) questionnaire. In contrast, 14.3% of people with episodic migraine on a waitlist receiving standard care had this change in disability status. For individuals with chronic migraine, 16.4% of those receiving MBCT-M had reduced disability and 8.7% of those on the waitlist had increased disability. On average, individuals with episodic migraine receiving MBCT-M also had a 14.4 point decrease in disability on the 100 point HDI compared to the .02 point decrease in the waitlist group (P = .001). 

Break your anxiety cycle with this “vigilant” method

This Sunday, I’m thinking about breaking bad habits. Societally, when we think of bad habits, we typically think of vices like smoking cigarettes or compulsively checking Twitter. But anxiety can manifest as a bad habit, too. How can you break it? You have to uncover your triggers and examine what exactly is going on when you slip into an anxious cycle. Judson Brewer, Ph.D., the director of research and innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center, acknowledges that people usually pause when they hear that anxiety can be a habit. But research indicates that feeling anxious can be a result of the same reward-based learning process that prompts all habits, positive and negative. […] Habits form because these behaviors work in a perpetuating loop: There’s a cue, a routine, and a reward. Repeating this loop, over and over, causes something to become a habit. […] “Worrying doesn’t make us feel good, and if we can’t figure out what the problem is, we can become more anxious in the process.” […] So, how can we stop this bad habit loop? It has less to do with forcing yourself to stop the bad habit and more to do with observing your behavior and asking yourself why the bad habit persists. For example, in a 2010 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers found the only strategy that effectively helped people control their habits was “the spontaneous use of vigilant monitoring (thinking “don’t do it,” watching carefully for slip-ups).”

The Antidepressant Fact Book – by Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for July 13-14, 2019

Big Pharma Fail: No Evidence Of Added Benefit In Most New Drugs, Study Finds

There seems to be a new drug to treat anything and everything these days, but are these medications as effective as they claim to be? A new study has concluded that the answer to that question is no. Furthermore, researchers say that international drug development processes, standards, and policies are fundamentally broken and must be reformed. According to the study performed at the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, more than half of the new drugs entering the German healthcare system show absolutely no added benefit. Between 2011 and 2017, researchers examined 216 drugs that passed regulatory approval and entered the German market. Most of these assessed drugs were also approved by the European Medicines Agency for widespread use throughout greater Europe. Alarmingly, only a quarter of those drugs showed any significant medical added benefit based on the available evidence. What’s more, 16% showed even a minor added benefit, and a whopping 58% of studied drugs did not show any added benefit over standard patient care.

Study: A daily dose of nuts could be key to staying sharp in old age

Nuts have always been viewed as a healthy snack and great source of protein, but new research suggests that a steady, hardy diet of nuts can also sustain mental sharpness and cognition as we age. Conducted at the University of South Australia, the study found that consuming more than 10 grams of nuts per day led to improved mental functioning and thinking, and better memory and reasoning. The study consisted of 4,822 Chinese adults aged 55 or older. “Population aging is one of the most substantial challenges of the twenty-first century. Not only are people living longer, but as they age, they require additional health support which is placing unprecedented pressure on aged-care and health services […] By eating more than 10 grams (or two teaspoons) of nuts per day older people could improve their cognitive function by up to 60 per cent– compared to those not eating nuts – effectively warding off what would normally be experienced as a natural two-year cognition decline,” Lee explains.

Meditation and yoga could prevent NYPD suicides: Brooklyn borough prez

Police suicides could be prevented if more cops meditated and learned yoga, former detective and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said Friday. In a letter to Police Commissioner James O’Neill, Adams recommended that the NYPD’s new Health and Wellness Task Force include meditation and yoga into its agenda. “(These) are evidence-based practices that have been scientifically prove to decrease anxiety, depression, hostility, and stress, while increasing attention and focus, ethical decision-making, and even happiness scores,” Adams said. “Just as we teach police officers how to use a weapon, we should be teaching them how to use mindfulness to manage stress,” Adams said at City Hall.

Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Internet, Video Game Addiction

An ever-growing mental health issue, many in the medical community have been seeking options for treating internet and computer game. A recent clinical trial is shining light onto the efficacy of short-term treatment for internet and computer game treatment through a manualized, short-term cognitive behavioral therapy program (CBT).

Investigators found that 69.4% (50 of 72) of participants in the treatment group showed remission, which is more than double the rate (23.9%) among the wait-list control group. In their logistic regression analysis, remission was higher in the treatment group than in the control arm (OR, 10.10; 95% CI, 3.69-27.65) when taking age, baseline severity, comorbidity, and treatment center. 



Food for mood

When psychiatrist, author and farmer Dr Drew Ramsey founded the Brain Food Clinic in New York City, he knew his work and ideology would be met with a lot of speculation. How could patients walk out with smoothie recipes or ‘clean eating’ shopping lists instead of pill prescriptions from his clinic? Using the latest in brain science, nutrition and mental health research, and an array of delicious food, his clinic helps people live fulfilled lives. Ramsey is at the forefront of a relatively new branch of therapy called Nutritional Psychiatry. To put it simply, when considering your overall wellness in relationship to how you eat, there is no need to separate physical health from mental health. […] Dr Ramsey recommends “eating the rainbow,” that is, consuming a wide array of colourful fruits and vegetables like peppers, blueberries, sweet potatoes, kale and tomatoes. Such foods are high in phytonutrients that may help to reduce harmful inflammation throughout the body, including the brain.

The doctor-patient relationship can be found in the graveyard of Informed Consent

Informed consent is absent in routine mammography screening, as no evidence exists that mammograms provide any benefit, whereas evidence exists that they have caused considerable harm. Obstetrics and gynecology aside, in no other specialty is there greater contempt for informed consent than in psychiatry, where dangerous side effects from psychiatric drugs are regularly withheld from patients and these drugs are even being prescribed for children. Psychiatrist Lawrence Kelmenson writes in “The Three Types of Psychiatric Drugs – A Doctor’s Guide for Consumers:”

“Psychiatrists are seen as hard-working, caring, understanding healers, but they’re really snake-oil salesmen, drug-dealers, and master-sedaters. What they do should be illegal. Someday everyone will realize that not only do psychiatrists not heal anything, they’re a major contributor to the recent rise in suicides and overdoses.”

Dr. Peter Breggin has echoed these sentiments, and actually specializes in getting people off these drugs.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for July 12, 2019

Helping or Harming? The effect of trigger warnings on individuals with trauma histories

Objective: Trigger warnings alert trauma survivors about potentially disturbing forthcoming content. However, most empirical studies on trigger warnings indicate that they are either functionally inert or cause small adverse side effects. These evaluations have been limited to either trauma-naïve participants or mixed samples. Accordingly, we tested whether trigger warnings would be psychologically beneficial in the most relevant population: survivors of serious trauma. […] Results: We found no evidence that trigger warnings were helpful for trauma survivors, for those who self-reported a PTSD diagnosis,or for those who qualified for probable PTSD,even when survivors’ trauma matched the passages’ content. We found substantial evidence that trigger warnings counter therapeutically reinforce survivors’ view of their trauma as central to their identity. Regarding replication hypotheses,the evidence was either ambiguous or substantially favored the hypothesis that trigger warnings have no effect. Conclusions: Trigger warnings are not helpful for trauma survivors. It is less clear whether trigger warnings are explicitly harmful. However, such knowledge is unnecessary to adjudicate whether to use trigger warnings –because trigger warnings are consistently unhelpful, there is no evidence-based reason to use them.

What to do when you don’t know anyone in the room

For some of us, there is nothing more intimidating than walking into a room and realizing you don’t know a single soul (we’re looking at you, introverts). For others (hey, extroverts!), this kind of unfamiliarity paired with the opportunity to meet new people is refreshing — even exhilarating. We all have our own ways of getting comfortable when we venture into uncharted territory that help us get acclimated to new places and faces. We asked members of the Thrive community to share the tactics they use to feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment, and start up meaningful conversations. Look for the loneliest person in the room “I look for the individual who appears to be the loneliest person in the room. I walk over to them, smile and say, ‘Hi, I’m Bill Ryan,’ and I extend my hand. I ask for their name and follow up with, ‘Where is home for you?’ or a hundred other soft ball questions to get them talking. As other people drift toward you, invite them in to the conversation. The challenge is to find a polite but convenient way to truncate the conversation if it is not generating much interest and to move on to another one.” —Bill Ryan, business coach, Charlotte, NC.   

Study finds you can treat chronic pain with mindfulness instead of opioids

In a series of novel studies led by Eric Garland, PHD, a licensed clinical social worker and director of the Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, researchers have found that mindfulness training can reduce chronic pain and opioid dependence. […] His previous research on this subject, published in June 2014 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, found that people with chronic pain who were long-term users of prescription opioids experienced significant reductions in their pain severity, functional impairment, cravings for opioids, and opioid misuse, when they participated in an eight-week MORE program, compared with those in a support group. […] In a new study to be published this summer in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Garland and his team wanted to see if mindfulness training could prevent opioid abuse before a pattern of misuse starts.

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 July 11, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 07.10.19  

A magnificent conversation with journalist and scientist Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic.    Bob and I unleash our imaginations and thoughts over the range of psychiatric issues from the way the drug companies and organized psychiatry have imposed an entirely false narrative on the world to how doctors end up telling life-destroying lies to their patients like “you have a biochemical imbalance and need drugs.”  This Dr. Peter Breggin Hour will inspire you to open your minds about and maybe even to inspire you to voice your own opinions about evildoing in the world.   And maybe you don’t need any inspiration from me and Bob, in which case I hope you will simply bask in the enjoyment of a very thoughtful and ultimately uplifting conversation.   Join us!   

And also, watch me on the HBO two-part documentary “I Love You, Now Die.” The first part aired last night (July 9, 2019 at 8 pm NY time) and the second part tonight (July 10, same time).  It’s about the Michelle Carter case of the girl who supposedly texted her boyfriend to death and it gives me, and a number of other, the opportunity to comment on important issues about psychiatry and life in America today. 

I’ve lost my libido due to antidepressants

A growing number of people are being prescribed antidepressants. Last month, RTÉ Investigates reported that in 2012, around 27,500 antidepressants (which kill libido) were prescribed per 1,000 per year. This figure grew to more than 35,000 dosages per 1,000 by 2017, an increase of 28% over five years. (The data was obtained from the Health Service Executive’s Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS), which is responsible for processing drug payments.) Sex makes people happy, and couples who have sex have better relationships and stronger marriages, so we ought to take this issue seriously. Clearly antidepressants have an important function, but if you want to stay well and get your libido back, you need to explore non-pharmacological solutions too. I’m sure you know that exercise can really help your mental health.

What is Michelle Carter’s prison sentence, and why did she tell her boyfriend to kill himself?

But Michelle wasn’t just a victim of depression, according to Dr. Peter Breggin, MD, a clinical psychiatrist hired by the defense, she was also a victim of the medications that were meant to help her. During his testimony, he explained that, in April 2014, a doctor changed Carter’s prescription to five milligrams of the antidepressant Celexa, per Esquire. Breggin said that the drug contorted her natural inclination to help others, convincing Carter that assisting and encouraging Roy’s suicide was actually a way to help him. He called this “involuntary intoxication,” meaning she didn’t know right from wrong, due to the drug’s influence. During Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn’s cross-examination of Breggin, however, he had to admit that there was no section on involuntary intoxication in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Instead, he said, “That’s a legal term.” Breggin did later say that involuntary intoxication was based on many clinical conditions that could be found in the DSM, but the fact remains that it is not an official mental health term.

A man suffering badly from depression has seen his life turned around after taking up stargazing as a hobby

Alex Higgs, 31, from Hessle, said he first started studying the sky five years ago after spotting an odd-looking star while taking the bins out. Now, he has encouraged others fighting mental health issues to take on a hobby. He said: “I used to have really, really bad depression but stargazing has helped me. “One night I was taking the bins out on a night and saw a star and thought, ‘What’s that?’ It was a really bright star and I wanted to investigate it. I got some binoculars and wrote down what I could see and researched it. “It was a Sirius star. It’s the closest star to Earth apart from the sun. From that I started stargazing.” Before he started looking up at the night sky, Alex was diagnosed with depression and prescribed citalopram, an antidepressant. He said he struggled with mental health issues for a while before looking at the sky.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for July 10, 2019

Alert 108: Get ready for Part II of “I Love You, Now Die”

Get ready for Part II of “I Love You, Now Die,” on HBO, Wednesday at 8 pm NY time.  The story of the girl who supposedly texted her boyfriend to death started out Tuesday night by morally and psychologically shredding teenager Michelle Carter the way the media and Massachusetts DA did and then gradually moves in a stunning fashion to begin to chip away at the “mean girl image” of Michelle Carter, hinting at her being made into a sacrificial lamb.  The documentary gives me the opportunity to comment on her humanity, the difficulty of being a young woman, and the distress she was experiencing.  

Just when I thought with disappointment that Part I was going to end without any mention of Michelle and her boyfriend being on antidepressants, the film foreshadows what is coming in Part II with a brief clip of me saying that this was a tragedy of two young people in love but they were not “star-crossed,” they were “drug-crossed.”    Part I was enlightening to the public and it may be that Part II will be even more so.  Watch HBO for Part II at 8 pm on Wednesday July 10.  Also, please take a look at my Michelle Carter page, including my series on Michelle and her trial with six of the best blogs I have ever written. 

Study: Psychiatric diagnoses are ‘scientifically meaningless’ in treating mental health

 No two people are exactly alike. Therefore, attempting to classify each unique individual’s mental health issues into neat categories just doesn’t work. […] a new study conducted at the University of Liverpool has raised eyebrows by concluding that psychiatric diagnoses are “scientifically meaningless,” and worthless as tools to accurately identify and address mental distress at an individual level. Researchers performed a detailed analysis on five of the most important chapters in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Heath Disorders (DSM). […] Researchers came to a number of troubling conclusions. First, the study’s authors assert that there is a significant amount of overlap in symptoms between disorder diagnoses, despite the fact that each diagnosis utilizes different decision rules.  […] Perhaps most concerning of all, researchers say that these diagnoses tell us little to nothing about the individual patient and what type of treatments they will need. The authors ultimately conclude that this  diagnostic labeling approach is “a disingenuous categorical system. Although diagnostic labels create the illusion of an explanation they are scientifically meaningless and can create stigma and prejudice. I hope these findings will encourage mental health professionals to think beyond diagnoses and consider other explanations of mental distress, such as trauma and other adverse life experiences.” Lead researcher Dr. Kate Allsopp explains in a release.

How To Raise Wild Children In The Age Of Tech (Hint: Put Down Facebook)

If you find yourself reaching for your phone during family dinner, you’re not alone: In a recent study published in the journal Child Development, only 11% of parents reported no technological interruptions. But in that same study, the data showed that parents’ technology behaviors can lead to behavioral issues like oversensitivity, hot tempers, and hyperactivity. Another study suggests that parental predictability is what’s key, and interruptions (perhaps that come from checking emails or Facebook) can affect brain development, especially with pleasure sensors. “Ideally we want to raise kids that enjoy things, whether that’s nature or otherwise,” says study author Tallie Z. Baram, M.D., Ph.D. “Imagine a mom interacting with her child: She holds a toy up, sets it on the table. She holds another toy up, sets it on the table. She’s engaged with the toys and looks excited; the kid is going to be engaged and their pleasure system will respond.” And when you disrupt this interaction, it’s perhaps showing the child that this isn’t interesting or rewarding enough to stimulate pleasure.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for July 9, 2019

Alert 107: Tonight & Tomorrow Night Dr. Breggin on HBO

This evening July 9th at 8 pm and tomorrow at 8 pm, HBO presents a two-part film, I Love You, Now Die, about Michelle Carter, the girl who supposedly “texted her boyfriend to death.” I was Michelle’s forensic psychiatric expert in the Massachusetts trial and afterward I wrote a detailed analysis of the trial and the DA’s attacks on me and on Michelle in a series of blogs on Mad in America Read More…

Mindfulness intervention improves romantic relationship satisfaction 

Can a 12-day online-based mindfulness intervention promote romantic relationship satisfaction? The present findings provide some mixed support. Indeed, overall, we found an increase in relationship satisfaction from pre- to post-intervention in the mindfulness intervention group, though this increase did not differ significantly from a control intervention group that was given the same psycho-education and completed the same daily measures but did not practice mindfulness. However, practicing mindfulness did make a difference for those participants who scored relatively low on trait mindfulness at the start of the training. Specifically, for participants with low levels of trait mindfulness, the mindfulness intervention promoted relationship satisfaction, whereas the control intervention did not. Thus, although in the mindfulness intervention participants of all levels of mindfulness improved in relationship satisfaction, this increase was only significantly different from the effects of the control intervention for people low in trait mindfulness.

Holding a grudge can make you ill – here’s how to let go

Most of us have harboured feelings of resentment after being hurt or deceived. It seems justifiable to do so, particularly when the pain was unexpected and feels utterly undeserved. A close look at grudge-holding shows, however, that the only person who suffers is the one who holds the grudge. As Angela Buttimer, a psychotherapist in Georgia, put it, ‘When we hold onto grudges and resentment, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.” Johan Karremans at Raboud University in the Netherlands reviewed a number of studies on the relative effects of grudge-holding and forgiveness. He found the inability to forgive is inversely related to the psychological wellbeing of the…

Why top-leaders are practicing mindfulness – and four steps to get started

Everybody talks about mindfulness these days. But what is it actually? Here is a short explanation that will make you sound like an expert next time a colleague brings up the topic. Mindfulness is about generating greater mental effectiveness, so that you can realize more of your potential on both a professional and a personal level. Mindfulness has been around for thousands of years. In our work with organizations around the world, we keep the practice and definition of mindfulness simple and close to its ancient roots: paying attention, in the present moment, with a calm, focused, and clear mind. What happens when you practice mindfulness…

Five major reasons why you need to practice mindfulness

To properly understand mindfulness, we need to explain its very opposite: mindlessness. Have you ever approached a room seeking something and upon getting past the door, you were immediately clueless about why you were there in the first place? Ha-ha. Apparently, everyone has experienced it. What’s that called? Mindlessness. And it is so called because you were not aware of your experience or the events around you. If mindlessness was about losing awareness, mindfulness is about regaining it. That’s simple. See this definition by the American Psychological Association: “…a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.” […] Mindfulness is not just another fashionable cliché being thrown around by perhaps mischievous people. Its benefits have been backed up by years of research. 

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

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

News & Information for July 8, 2019

On Cognitive Liberty: A Principle to Rally Behind

Whether we are members of the antipsychiatry movement, the mad movement, the critical psychiatry movement, or the neurodiversity movement, despite very real differences between us, we are united by a common cause—to wit, reining in the psy disciplines, for the most part, in particular psychiatry. Various concepts assist us in this vital endeavour. Examples of concepts that have been and are likely to continue to be indispensable in this regard are: validity, construct validity, basic human rights, dignity, and free and informed consent. A concept that falls squarely under the larger umbrella of human rights that I am suggesting that we would do well to draw on more is cognitive liberty. It is this concept that I am exploring in this article. Traces of the principle now called cognitive liberty can be found in legal literature dating back as far as Roman times. An early formulation is evident in the maxim of Roman law “cogitationis poenam nemo patitur” (which means ‘no one can be punished for his thought alone’—for a good discussion of the history of the concept, see “Cognitive Liberty or the International Human Right to Freedom of Thought”). This principle in various forms has continued to be drawn on throughout the ages, with freedom of thought becoming a hallmark of the Enlightenment.

5 Ways That Helped My Child with Autism Sleep Better

As a parent of an autistic child, we have to overcome several challenges day by day, and at night too! The autism community might argue about different subjects and urgent concerns, but one thing is common for everyone: sleep disorders. This is a problem that affects between 44% to 86% of autistic children, and most will continue to suffer with it during adulthood. When a child or adult with high support needs has trouble sleeping, the entire family suffers with them. Keeping 24-hour supervision into someone who doesn’t sleep well is hard, especially because you also will not be sleeping enough during the night. So, what parents and caretakers can do? Put all our efforts into finding the right formula to give our children the best night’s sleep possible. These are the things that have helped our family so far.

Silent suicide: The fatal combination of old age, loneliness and loss

Tom Rote, 70, lives alone on his property in Harrisburg. Many of his friends and family members have died in recent years, and he can no longer do some of the activities he used to enjoy, like flying in hot air balloons, now that he’s older. Rote’s circumstances check every box when it comes to risk factors for depression. He’s a white male, over the age of 65, living alone in a life full of loss. While these factors can increase the risk for depression in all people, for older adults they pose a bigger threat — silent suicide. […] Senior living specialist Samantha McCay said she’s seen many elderly people become depressed because they feel useless or just “old and in the way,” as Rote describes himself. For people who have struggled with substance abuse in the past like Rote, this feeling can trigger a relapse. “Silent suicide definitely is an issue because … some people, if they used to be alcoholics, maybe at a certain point, they start drinking again,” McCay said. “There’s just a lack of care for themselves.”

Helping people discontinue long-term antidepressants: Views of health professionals in UK primary care

The aims of this paper were to identify, characterise and explain clinician factors that shape decision-making around antidepressant discontinuation in UK primary care. […] Participants highlighted a number of barriers and enablers to discussing discontinuation with patients. They held a range of views around responsibility, with some suggesting it was the responsibility of the health professional (HP) to broach the subject, and others suggesting responsibility rested with the patients. HPs were concerned about destabilising the current situation, discussed how continuity and knowing the patient facilitated discontinuation talks, and discussed how confidence in their professional skills and knowledge affected whether they elected to raise discontinuation in consultations. […] Conclusions Findings indicate a need to consider support for HPs in the management of antidepressant medication and discussions of discontinuation in particular. They may also benefit from support around their fears of patient relapse and awareness of when and how to initiate discussions about discontinuation with their patients.

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 July 6-7, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour  – July 03, 2019

My guest Jeffrey Masson PhD may be the greatest writer ever about the emotions of animals.   What Jane Goodall is to chimpanzees in the wild, Jeff is to our dogs and to the whole broad spectrum of animal life in relationship with human life. Always science based, he writes artistically about their relationships with us.  Today’s show is all about animals and especially about dogs and what we as a species have learned from our co-evolution with them.  What emotions do they have that we share?  Do they have unique emotions?   Can we feel things they cannot feel?  What have we learned from them about love, trust, and forgiveness.  Recently an article has come out describing how dogs are the only non-human creatures who have learned to move their eyebrows to show their emotions and always in relation to us.   Dogs and humans, Jeff suggests, are “one species,” having evolved together.   I do not think I’ve ever had a conversation on or off the air in which so many new ideas and nuances about human and animal life have come out.  For me, this show is a treasure!   Please share this hour with me and Jeff.   

What your teacher thinks of you affects your performance

Imagine that on the first day of a class, the instructor says, ‘Only  smart people will do well in this course.’ Cue the imposter syndrome as you begin to wonder if you are smart enough to be in the course. Unknowingly, the instructor has communicated their own fixed mindset belief about the students. The belief is that intelligence is a fixed quantity as opposed to growth mindset, where intelligence is thought to be changeable. Previous studies have found that instructor expectations for students can affect their performance, but what about the instructor’s beliefs about their students’ intelligences? […] Perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers found that students in the fixed mindset instructors’ courses earned lower grades than students in the growth mindset instructors’ courses. The effect was even more pronounced for students who identified as Black, Latino, and/or Native American. This likely is yet another contributor to the race gap in STEM(and college completion in general).

Free online trauma-informed yoga videos available

Parkside Psychiatric Hospital & Clinic is presenting a series of six free online trauma-informed yoga videos that anyone can access from home. All videos can be found at Parkside’s webpage www.Parksideinc.org/TraumaInformedYoga. Presented by trauma-certified yoga teachers, Parkside’s trauma-informed yoga video series is designed to serve as a free alternative to a group class. Funded by the Hardesty Family Foundation, each yoga video is intended to help calm the mind and help individuals cope with trauma, anxiety, addiction, and other mental health conditions. “Trauma takes a heavy toll on the body and the brain,” said Parkside Adult Inpatient Director Stevi Harper. “Our series of trauma-informed yoga videos will not only serve our patients as an effective after-care component, but will help anyone interested in accessing yoga as a tool to cope with mental health conditions – no matter what age.”

The 7 Best Food Tracking Apps, According to a Nutritionist

The easiest way to lose weight and improve your health is to watch what you eat. Literally. That’s why digital food trackers, basically a next-level food log, are so popular. “The consistent act of logging your food helps you take a moment to consider what you’re actually in the mood for and builds in a moment of mindfulness,” says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Food tracker apps go beyond calorie counting. They’re a learning tool for discovering the foods you crave and enjoy, the ones you don’t love so much, and the kind of situations that lead you to eat those foods. Dig in to our menu of app options to help you cook better, grocery-shop smarter, and become a more mindful eater. And, yes, drop pounds and feel better, too.

How to Give Yourself Mental First Aid When You’re Feeling Sadness or Grief

Sometimes we all face difficult emotions — even for us life coaches! But it’s how we respond to our emotions that determines our emotional intelligence. As tempting as it is to reach for the pint of ice cream, junk food, or a beer, it’s better not to. Why? Because this can lead to a “maladaptive response to stress” — also known as “addiction.” Instead, see the pain as a smoke alarm: something inside of you needs examining, healing, exorcising, etc. Think of it like a notification on your phone: “Alert: Feeling sadness — investigate ASAP.” Just like in physical first aid, first, we need to stop the bleeding and put a bandage on the wound. Here are some techniques for dealing with sadness and grief.

The Creation of a Conceptual Alternative to the DSM: An Interview with Dr. Lucy Johnstone

Last year, Lucy Johnstone, Mary Boyle and their colleagues in the UK launched the Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMF), a set of ideas that represented a sharp departure from the biomedical conceptions that animate the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). This framework shifts the notion of “What is wrong with you?” in the DSM to “What has happened to you?” and by doing so rejects medical process of diagnosing “disorders” in favor of a narrative response that tells of contexts, power dynamics, and systems.

Health Experts Agree on 7 Nutrients to Make You Feel Happy and Healthy

Dietary nutrients are critical for brain structure and function, so they have a potentially profound impact on mental health. An increasingly robust body of research points to the detrimental effect of unhealthy diets and nutrient deficiencies, and to the protective value of healthy diets — along with select nutritional supplements as required — for maintaining and promoting mental health. Research literature suggests dietary improvement and nutritional interventions may help reduce the risk, or even arrest the progression, of certain psychiatric disorders. Clinical studies support the use of certain nutrients, which influence a range of neurochemical activities beneficial for treating mental disorders, as medicinal supplements. Evidence from clinical research supports the use of several nutritional medicines for certain psychiatric disorders: omega-3 fatty acids; N-acetyl cysteine (NAC); S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe); zinc; magnesium; vitamin D; and B vitamins (including folic acid). Other natural compounds such as amino acids, plant-based antioxidants, and microbiotics (derived from fermented food or laboratory synthesis) are also known to influence brain health.

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

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

News & Information for July 5, 2019

FDA approves home electroshock for kids

Universities want to use virtual reality to help people who are obese or have an eating disorder

Nottingham’s two universities are getting together with a local business on a project which could see virtual reality (VR) used to help people who are obese or who have an eating disorder. They have been given a grant to see whether putting people in a VR environment will give extra insights into their behaviour – and ultimately help tackle their conditions. They hope to develop a tool which could, for example, help someone who is obese to explore and manage their reactions when they are in a room where there is an open box of pizza on the side. The University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University are working with Radford technology company Body Aspect on the project, and have been given £58,000 from national innovation agency InnovateUK to carry out a feasibility study. […] “We believe that by bringing VR into these kinds of therapies, the experience will be much more immersive, and therefore much more meaningful to the people. We believe that their experiences in therapy will begin to have a much more direct link to the difficult emotions they experience outside of therapy, enabling them to make progress more directly.”

How social media ruins your productivity

Pet hates of the moment: When people cross the street with their heads bowed in reverence to their smartphone rather than checking for cars either side of them. When people bump into you on the street because they’re staring at a screen and not at their footsteps. When people drive with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on a device despite their kids sitting in the back seat. What do those pet hates have in common? Addiction. Less of an addiction to phones themselves and more of an addiction to the apps within them – apps that have their masters beholden to the social media governing their time, attention, safety and, according to fresh research, their performance at work.

Mental Illness: Brain Disease or Gut Disease?

[T]wo studies published in February this year independently found that people with schizophrenia had a much lower diversity of gut microbiota compared to healthy controls. Other studies indicate that people with depression and autism spectrum disorder also have different patterns of gut microbiota compared to healthy controls. This is concerning as related studies indicate that specific gut microbiota play a formative role in the production and regulation of neurotransmitters and metabolites implicated in mental illness. This includes serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Similarly, harmful gut microbiota can produce neuroactive substances than can cross the blood-brain barrier, affecting both cognition and emotion. All this points towards plausible mechanisms and preliminary evidence for an association between gut microbiota signatures and mental health.

The Antidepressant Fact Book – by Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for July 4, 2019

Lawrence University professor develops app to combat depression in teens

Groundbreaking work to fight depression in youth is happening right here in northeast Wisconsin. One professor at Lawrence University is using her experience in psychology and technology to pinpoint which teens will develop chronic depression as adults. Psychology professor Lori Hilt has studied depression for years. But with a grant totaling more than $360, 000 she’s taking her studies to another level. She’s developed an app to do it.

“The app notifies them three times a day and each time they use the app it asks them questions like, ‘what are you doing right now’, ‘where is your mind at’, ‘how are you feeling?’ Rumination is what we call a risk factor for depression and anxiety and other things,” says Hilt. “By definition it’s something that we think comes before something that happens later like depression. What we’re trying to do is measure it and intervene at this stage in early adolescence, before depression first develops.”

Research Backs These Methods for Reducing Depression and Anxiety

Looking for relief from garden-variety stressors? Feeling mired in one of life’s larger challenges? Weary of sweating the small stuff? The recently published results of a five-year study show that people who learn stress-intervention skills — and then practice them daily — develop more positive approaches to life. “The skills, known as a positive emotion regulation intervention, are not specific to any particular kind of stress,” says Judith Moskowitz. “We’ve seen that individuals in all kinds of challenging life circumstances with high levels of depression and stress have the ability to experience positive emotions, and doing that helps them cope better. The same skills also help with daily hassles.” […] Because different solutions work for different people, Moskowitz offers what she calls “a buffet of options” — eight ways to help cultivate more positive emotions. “Individuals may want to give each option a try,” she says, “and then pick one or two to stick with as a habit.” Here are the eight proven skills:

Is self-hypnosis the new meditation?

From non-stop news flooding our phones to the threat of climate change increasing by the day, Americans are freaking out. In fact, almost 40 percent of the population is anxious, and one in six are on psychiatric medication. We all know that meditation is on the rise, but part of the issue with today’s society is an inability to focus; in fact, the average attention span is only eight seconds. Enter self-hypnosis. Self-hypnosis is a technique that aims to create a state of self-awareness and relaxation in an individual. In a state of self-hypnosis, an individual’s subconscious is open to suggestions, which can be used to bring about powerful lifestyle changes. In fact, Adele claims she quit smoking thanks to hypnotherapy. Plus, with apps such as Hypnobox, self-hypnosis is easier than ever. There’s even a WikiHow page describing how to practice self-hypnosis.

Learn to control dreams and you really can change your life

You’re in free flight, gliding high above a patchwork of fields with the wind in your hair. Or what about swimming deep beneath the ocean without need of air? Perhaps your wildest dreams include something entirely different: a dalliance with a film star, or skiing down a black run — when in reality you never made it off the nursery slopes. And you can experience all this and more — at will, while fast asleep in bed. ‘Lucid dreaming’ is the art of shaping or controlling your dreams by practising the latest brain training techniques. You can wake up in the morning, refreshed, after spending the night perfecting your tennis serve or settling your differences with a long-deceased relative.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for July 3, 2019

Don’t miss The Dr Peter Breggin Hour today, hosting world-renowned psychologist and animal-psychology expert. The radio show is today @ 4 pm, NY time and you can call in @ 888-874-4888 with questions or comments.

Dogs mirror stress of owners, study finds owner’s cortisol matches canine companions

In research that confirms what many owners will have worked out for themselves, scientists have found that the household pets are not oblivious to their owners’ anxieties, but mirror the amount of stress they feel. […] researchers in Sweden found that higher cortisol in human hair was matched by more of the hormone in the dog hair. All of the dogs lived indoors with their owners. “This is the first time we’ve seen a long-term synchronisation in stress levels between members of two different species,” said Lina Roth, an ethologist who led the work at Linköping University in Sweden. “We haven’t seen this between humans and dogs before.” Roth’s team measured concentrations of cortisol in short strands of hair cut close to the skin in the winter and summer of 2017 and 2018. The link between human and dog cortisol held through the seasons, but was higher in dogs in the winter.

Dogs need together time and alone time, just like us

When a dog says, “I’ve had enough of you,” there’s no reason to take it personally or to feel snubbed. It’s important to realize that even the most social dogs who love us dearly and who cherish “together time” also need time on their own. We need to recognize and honor when they’re telling us they just need to get away from it all, including us. In Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion the Best Life Possible, Jessica Pierce and I discuss “together time” and “alone time” and focus on dog-human interactions. Our recommendation is to let dogs decide when they want to be with us and when they don’t. […] Just like people, dogs may want to have some time to themselves. This is particularly the case in homes with children or with a lot of activity and stimulation. It is important for every dog to have a “safe zone”—a place the dog can retreat to and be allowed not to interact or be touched. 

Confide in Fido! Nearly half of dog owners turn to their canines over family for comfort

Dogs have been considered man’s best friend for hundreds of years, but according to a recent survey, they may also be man’s (or woman’s) best therapist. Conducted by Wag!, a mobile dog-walking app, a survey of more than 2,000 pet parents found that 44% of respondents would rather turn to their dog for emotional support than talk about their feelings with a family member. Dogs also appear to be the center of affection for many families as well, with 38% of respondents admitting that the family dog is the “person” they show the most love or attention to in their household. For reference, 31% of respondents said they show the most affection towards their own children and 23% reported giving their spouse or significant other the most attention / affection.

Dogs rescue humans from loneliness and poor health

Eric O’Grey was once unhealthy, depressed and lonely.When he was 50, his doctor told him to buy a funeral plot because he’d soon need one. He weighed 350 pounds, with cholesterol at “a walking dead level.” That was in 2010; fast forward to 2019, and O’Grey, now 60, is alive and well because of a shelter dog named Peety. O’Grey, who had become a shut-in, found a nutrition expert who put him on a ration diet and also prescribed a shelter dog, which O’Grey thought was “crazy.” The intention was to get him outside and moving. “I think I have the perfect dog for you,” O’Grey recalled the woman in charge of adoptions saying at the Silicon Valley shelter. Peety was an older dog with skin problems who had trouble walking because of his weight. […] “I had this super happy puppy on my hands,” said Landers, who named the dog River. “Being sedentary was not an option. … I started pushing through the pain because suddenly I had a motivation that was bigger than just me.”

Study: Recess can be highly beneficial for kids — depending on the playground experience

Daily recess offers children more than just a mere break from the educational demands of school. Previous research has shown that outdoor playtime improves students’ social and emotional development, but it takes more than just any old sliding board and sandbox. A recent study finds that schools must provide children with an all-around high-quality playground experience in order for them to reap the benefits. Researchers from Oregon State University say factors like playground safety, peer conflict resolution, access to play equipment, and quality engagement between adults and students contribute to the quality recess experience. “Kids are inherently wired to play and they need recess,” says lead author William Massey, an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, in a university release. “But we can’t just think of recess in terms of having it or not having it. Recess can be good for child development, but it also can be an absolute disaster if not done well.”

Drug prices in 2019 are surging, with hikes at 5 times inflation

Price hikes on prescription drugs are surging in 2019, despite vows from lawmakers and the Trump administration to rein in pharmaceutical costs. So far in 2019, more than 3,400 drugs have boosted their prices, a 17% increase compared with the roughly 2,900 drug price increases at the same time in 2018, according to a new analysis by Rx Savings Solutions, a consultant to health plans and employers. The average price hike for those 3,400 drugs stands at 10.5%, or about 5 times the rate of inflation, the study found. About 41 drugs have boosted their prices by more than 100%, including one version of the antidepressant fluoxetine — also known as Prozac — whose cost has surged  879%, Rx Savings Solutions said. 

More seniors are dying in falls. Study shows doctors could do more to reduce the risk

Older adults worried about falling typically receive general advice: Take an exercise class. Get your vision checked. Stop taking medications for sleep. Install grab bars in the bathroom. A new study suggests that sort of advice hasn’t proved to be very effective: Nearly three times more adults age 75 and older died from falls in 2016 than in 2000, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In 2016, 25,189 people in this age group died from falls, compared with 8,613 in 2000. […]  Using three or more psychotropic medications such as opioids, antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines (such as Valium) and “Z” drugs for sleep (such as Ambien) puts seniors at substantial risk, said Dr. Donovan Maust, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Mindfulness: The three skills you need to do it right

The term “mindfulness” has received a great deal of attentionin recent years. Many people compare it to meditation, while others explain it as a way of thinking. In simple terms, mindfulness really means being present in the moment, without judgment. It isn’t about stopping your thoughts (because realistically, is that even possible?) or being silent for extended periods of time. It’s about accepting the present moment as it is and paying attention to what is happening exactly at that time. Mindfulness is a core principle of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a treatment originally designed for borderline personality disorder, but which has been applied to many forms of pathology as a way to assist in emotion regulation. There are three main skills discussed within DBT as related to mindfulness: 

The Antidepressant Fact Book – by Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for July 2, 2019

Alert 106: Dog & Cat Lovers, Don’t Miss Jeffrey Masson on Dr Breggin’s Radio Show

Do you love dogs or cats?  Want to learn why?  Compare them to humans to see who’s better?   Find out how dogs may have transformed human evolution.  Listen to Jeffrey Masson PhD, the world’s best writer about dogs and animals, on the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour on Wednesday, July 3 at 4 PM, New York time.  It’s a lively hour on www.prn.fm.   On 888-874-4888 you can call to ask questions or to offer you own opinions about your favorite pet. 

Ask Jeff Masson anything you want to know about the intelligence and emotional life of animals.   He is the author of When Elephants Weep; Dogs Never Lie About Love; The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals; The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats: A Journey Into the Feline Heart; and Beasts: What Animals Can Teach Us About the Origins of Good and Evil.   Really, you don’t want to miss this wonderful conversation about animals, humans and life—through the eyes of your favorite creatures.  

Confide In Fido! Nearly half of dog owners turn to their canines over family for comfort

Dogs have been considered man’s best friend for hundreds of years, but according to a recent survey, they may also be man’s (or woman’s) best therapist. Conducted by Wag!, a mobile dog-walking app, a survey of more than 2,000 pet parents found that 44% of respondents would rather turn to their dog for emotional support than talk about their feelings with a family member. Dogs also appear to be the center of affection for many families as well, with 38% of respondents admitting that the family dog is the “person” they show the most love or attention to in their household. For reference, 31% of respondents said they show the most affection towards their own children and 23% reported giving their spouse or significant other the most attention / affection.

Antipsychotics associated with increased mortality risk in patients with dementia

To assess all-cause mortality patients with dementia treated with typical and atypical antipsychotic drugs (APDs) […] Both the use of atypical and typical APDs increased the risk of death in patients with dementia even after adjusting for differences in basic characteristics between groups. Although we cannot rule out the influence of residual confounding, these results would seem to add to studies suggesting caution in APD prescription for patients with dementia.

Study: Teens’ brains change after using marijuana just once or twice

The negative stigma surrounding marijuana use has slowly been disappearing in recent years, with more and more states decriminalizing the substance and legalizing recreational use. However, recent research indicates that more traditional concerns about marijuana’s effects on young people is still warranted after all. A study conducted by neuroscientists at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine found that teen brain volume is indeed impacted by even low levels of cannabis use. While previous research has focused on frequent marijuana users later on in life, this study’s authors say their findings are the first to point to an increase in gray matter volume in certain parts of the teenage brain after using a very small amount of marijuana – just one or two joints. “Consuming just one or two joints seems to change gray matter volumes in these young adolescents,” says first author and Professor of Psychiatry Hugh Garavan in a release. “The implication is that this is potentially a consequence of cannabis use. You’re changing your brain with just one or two joints. Most people would likely assume that one or two joints would have no impact on the brain.”

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 July 1, 2019

Is Freud’s legacy fading?

Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx were the towering figures of twentieth century thought and Marxist ideas have had a resurgence in recent years; ostensibly underpinning the world’s most populous nation – China. On the other hand, the death of Freud’s psychoanalysis has been proclaimed on many occasions and, increasingly, it is seen as a relic from a bygone era of topcoats and lace. But University of Melbourne research suggests that reports of the death of psychoanalysis are exaggerated and that, in some parts of the world, Freud’s psychoanalytic ideas are alive and well. For decades, critics of psychoanalysis have assailed its questionable scientific foundations, its suspect views on gender and the flaws in its founder’s character. […] At the University of Melbourne, we have attempted to answer this neglected question by tracking the frequency with which a large set of psychoanalytic concepts are mentioned in almost five million English-language books. 

Is human psychology driven by gut microbes?

Walking into a recent psychiatry grand rounds meeting, I came across a curious projection screen: it was the image of a person, but with intestines where their brain should be. A while before, I had watched a youtube video in which gut bacteria were said to be dictating human behavior — the Gepetto to our Pinocchio. The theme came back several times and it seemed like the more I read on the topic, I discovered more puppet-based metaphors, more assertions of gut bacterial control over the human mind. […] Maybe, one day, we’ll be able to replace the admittedly imperfect Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Meditation with a spoonful of yogurt and a bowl of fermented cabbage. […] But until we see the results from well-controlled human experiments, and are faced with independent replication of these studies, we might need to accept that we just don’t know.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for June 29-30, 2019

Poverty, Pathology and Pills: An Interview with Dr. Felicity Thomas and Dr. Richard Byng

On MIA Radio, Tim Beck interviewed Dr. Felicity Thomas and Dr. Richard Byng. […] Together, Dr. Thomas and Dr. Byng have contributed to the DeSTRESS project, which consists of a team of researchers in the United Kingdom who seek to learn about why and how poverty-related issues have become increasingly pathologized. This includes exploring how high levels of antidepressant prescription and use are impacting people’s health and wellbeing in low-income communities in southwest England.

Safety considerations in the psychopharmacology of pediatric bipolar disorder.

The standard of treatment of pediatric bipolar disorder (BPD) often requires life-long psychopharmacological management. Several pharmacological agents are approved by the US FDA for the treatment of pediatric BPD. However, each medication may cause adverse events (AEs). […] Most medications increase risk of AEs in youth with BPD. Treatment with lithium may lead to thyrotropin elevations, but generally does not cause significant weight gain. Divalproex may lead to weight gain; however, this finding was not consistent in comparison studies with lithium. Olanzapine, risperidone, quetiapine, and asenapine are associated with metabolic abnormalities and weight gain. Studies of ziprasidone, aripiprazole and lurasidone do not suggest significant metabolic AEs. More studies are needed to assess efficacy and safety of medications in managing pediatric BPD. Special focus on long-term maintenance trials is required to further identify long-term AEs in this population.

6 signs your mental health medication isn’t working for you, according to doctors

Many people with mental health issues struggle with universal symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and fatigue. But there’s unfortunately no one-size-fits-all treatment option or pill that works for everyone. With so many different mental health medications to choose from, it may take some time to find an antidepressant or psychiatric medication that works well for you. […] Here are six signs your mental health medication may not be a good fit for you, according to doctors themselves. 1. You Mental Health Symptoms Worsen […] 2. You’re Experiencing Sleep Issues […] 3. Your Symptoms Simply Haven’t Gotten Any Better […] 4. The Side Effects Are Unbearable […] 5. You Feel More Apathetic […]  6. Your Mental Health Symptoms Still Interfere With Your Daily Activities.

Creativity in Bipolar Disorder: Fabulous or Fatal?

When I’m providing therapy for people with bipolar disorder, one of the greatest concerns they have is losing their creative abilities. People with a bipolar condition adapt to mood swings by getting as much accomplished while manic, knowing that a period of depression may be right around the corner. During manic episodes, an individual can feel tremendous energy and form intense ideas towards extreme productivity. The prospect of blunting creativity with mood stabilizing medications is troubling for them, even when they recognize how mania can also be a destructive force in their lives. The creativity issue is inevitable in bipolar therapy—so it’s important to know ahead of time what the perceived loss of creativity really means in the life of someone with bipolar disorder, and what therapy can do to help. In understanding what creativity means to someone with bipolar, consider this: Much of what you may have heard about great inventors, entertainers, artists, and leaders who have had bipolar disorder is probably true. For example, van Gogh, Newton, Mozart, and Poe are believed by many to have suffered the disorder. But is it also true that without bipolar in their lives, they still would have been the great and celebrated innovators of all time and civilization?

Doing these 3 little things on weekends can help you live happier & longer, science says

Living in the moment, being spontaneous, taking a mental break from work — these are the things that make free time so special. What you do choose to do with your free time is important; once you spend it, you can’t get it back. Frittering it away by binge-watching Netflix or scrolling through Instagram won’t bring you long-lasting happiness. Instead, it will likely leave you feeling languished or mired in mediocrity. The happiest and most successful people make the most out of their free time — on weekends, especially — by incorporating healthy habits that have been scientifically proven to improve our physical and mental well-being. To live a happier and longer life, try doing these 3 simple things on weekends:

Encourage your kids to practice yoga

Recent studies have proven that when kids practice yoga, their anxiety and stress is lessened exponentially- and it can even help improve their performance at school and in their personal lives. Who among us doesn’t want to give their kids a leg-up when it comes to their future? It is also suggested that kids with ADHD can benefit from practicing yoga because of yoga’s calming nature. In our hurry-up culture, it’s vital that our young people learn to slow the chaos around them, and learn how to tune into what really matters: their inner peace. Yoga is a fantastic choice of exercise for kids of all ages because it has many benefits, and can be practiced from virtually anywhere. If consistently practiced, kids can learn some valuable lessons, such as:

★ Involuntary hospitalization increases risk of suicide, study finds

A new study suggests that the common practice of forced hospitalization for mental health concerns may be doing more harm than good. People who felt they were coerced into being hospitalized against their will were more likely to attempt suicide after being released from the hospital. This was true even after controlling for other factors that might influence suicidality. […] Previous research has found similar results. A 2017 article in JAMA Psychiatry found that risk of suicide was 100 times greater than average immediately after being released from a hospital, and a 2016 report suggested that “adverse experiences associated with hospitalization” were responsible for the high number of post-discharge suicide attempts. Involuntary hospitalization was associated with increased risk of suicide both during the hospitalization itself and afterward. […] In the current study […] [t]hey found that fully two-thirds (67%) of the participants felt that they were forced into hospitalization, and 19% went on to attempt suicide after being released from the hospital. This data alone calls into question the idea that forced hospitalization is an effective treatment in preventing suicidality.

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 June 28, 2019

Antidepressants, not depression, reduce behavioral responses to empathy

Contrary to prior cross-sectional reports of empathy deficits in major depression, study findings published in Translational Psychiatry indicated that antidepressant treatment decreased aversive responses triggered by exposure to the suffering of others. “[Although] the impact of major depressive disorder on mood and basic emotional processing has been investigated intensely, few attempts have been made to explore its influence on empathy, which is a crucial skill for everyday social interactions,” Markus Rütgen, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in the social, cognitive and affective neuroscience unit at University of Vienna in Austria, and colleagues wrote. […] Rütgen and colleagues found no behavioral or neural differences between patients with depression and controls before antidepressant treatment. After 3 months of treatment, patients with MDD exhibited reduced neural responses in a priori brain areas specifically associated with empathy for pain (bilateral anterior insular and anterior midcingulate cortex) as well as reduced self-experienced unpleasant affect in response to others’ pain. In addition, the results showed that reductions in affective empathy were linked to symptom improvement, and functional connectivity during the empathy task between brain regions tied to affective (anterior insula) and cognitive (precuneus) empathy dropped between sessions among those with MDD. “The lowered emotional impact of negative events in a social context possibly allows patients to recover more easily,” Rütgen said in a press release. “Nevertheless, the actual impact of reduced empathy on patients’ social behavior remains to be explored.”

Ian thoughts: This study, which we’ve posted several media reports of, not only confirms Dr. Breggin’s long-time observations that psychiatric drugs, especially antidepressants, reduce empathy, but also corroborates his brain-disabling principle that the perceived efficacy of psychiatric drugs corresponds with their brain-disabling effects. The “efficacy” of psychiatric drugs is merely an interpretation of the harm they cause. The once manic hallucinating patient who is now, after being drugged, staring blankly and quietly is “doing much better.” The once depressed patient who now doesn’t feel anything, including depression or empathy, is “doing much better.” Such “therapeutic treatment” is not a genuine restoration of health, it is actually brain injury masquerading as therapeutic. 

More seniors are dying in falls. Doctors could do more to reduce the risk

Older adults worried about falling typically receive general advice: Take an exercise class. Get your vision checked. Stop taking medications for sleep. Install grab bars in the bathroom. A new study suggests that sort of advice hasn’t proved to be very effective: Nearly three times more adults age 75 and older died from falls in 2016 than in 2000, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. […] Your doctor’s guidance will be needed to review medications that can contribute to falls. Using three or more psychotropic medications such as opioids, antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines (such as Valium) and “Z” drugs for sleep (such as Ambien) puts seniors at substantial risk, said Dr. Donovan Maust, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Benzos becoming a choice drug for teens, NJ drug advocates warn

Drug experts are now warning of a dangerous new health problem involving medications like Valium and Xanax that are typically prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. It turns out benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as benzos, are increasingly being used and abused by teens and 20-somethings to treat nervousness and for recreational purposes. “We need to ring the alarm bell loud and clear that this is a major problem,” said Angelo Valente, the executive director of the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey. “Just recently there was a study that showed there’s been an 830% increase, from 1999 to 2017, in overdose deaths involving the drugs that are commonly called benzos,” he said. “This spike was only surpassed by overdose deaths involving synthetic opiates or heroin, so there’s no question this is an alarming statistic.” According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 10,600 people died from benzo overdose in 2016. In 1999, that number was about 1,100. So why is this happening?

Your bathroom cabinet contains drugs that could increase your risk of dementia by 50%

Long-term use of some common prescription medications may be linked with heightened risk of dementia. Researchers found a statistically significant association between dementia and exposure to anticholinergic drugs, especially antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, anti-Parkinson drugs, anti-epilepsy drugs and bladder antimuscarinics, which are used to treat urinary incontinence, according to the observational study published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Anticholinergic drugs work by blocking a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine in the nervous system.

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 June 27, 2019

When a new study debunks standing science, don’t ignore it

The world should know that there’s no biological difference between liberals and conservatives. […] In 2008, Science, one of the top scientific journals, published a paper by a group of psychologists that claimed to find biological differences between liberals and conservatives. According to the paper, conservatives tended to react more to “sudden noises” and “threatening visual images.” This result, which suggests that political liberalism and conservatism spring from deep, indelible sources rather than reactions to the issues of the day, suggests that polarization will never end — that the populace will always be divided into two camps, separated by a gulf of biology. […] Fast forward a decade, though, and the claim is unraveling. In a working paper published this month, another team of psychologists attempted to repeat the experiment, and also conducted other similar experiments. They failed to find any evidence linking physical-threat perception with political ideology. But when they tried to publish their paper, Science desk-rejected it — that is, the editors refused to even send the paper out for peer review, claiming that the replication study simply wasn’t noteworthy enough to be published in a top journal. Meanwhile, another team of researchers also recently tried to replicate the original study, and failed. So even though at this point the evidence proving a biological basis for liberalism and conservatism seems to have been invalidated, it’s unclear whether this fact will make it into the public conversation.

Frequent Nightmares Predictive of Adolescent Suicidality, Self-Injury

There may be an association between frequent nightmares and subsequent suicidality in adolescents, according to study results published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Investigators abstracted data from the Shandong Adolescent Behavior and Health Cohort, an ongoing prospective longitudinal study of adolescent health in Shandong, China. Eligible adolescents in middle school and high school completed a series of self-report structured questionnaires at baseline in 2015, then 1 year later in 2016. The structured questionnaires captured suicidal behavior, nonsuicidal self-injury, depression symptoms, and family demographic characteristics. Participants also reported sleep duration, sleep quality, insomnia symptoms, and nightmare frequency. Logistic regression analyses were performed to determine which sleep variables were associated with suicidality and nonsuicidal self-injury. […] At 1-year follow-up, 190 participants (2.7%) had attempted suicide and 621 (8.8%) had engaged in nonsuicidal self-injury. After adjustments for adolescent and family demographics, depression, impulsiveness, and prior suicide attempt or self-injury, frequent nightmares in the previous year remained a significant predictor of future suicide attempt (odds ratio, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.15-3.33) and nonsuicidal self-injury (odds ratio, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.10-2.08). 

Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults

The relationship of health risk behavior and disease in adulthood to the breadth of exposure to childhood emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, and household dysfunction during childhood has not previously been described. […] Persons who had experienced four or more categories of childhood exposure, compared to those who had experienced none, had 4- to 12-fold increased health risks for alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide attempt; a 2- to 4-fold increase in smoking, poor self-rated health, ≥50 sexual intercourse partners, and sexually transmitted disease; and a 1.4- to 1.6-fold increase in physical inactivity and severe obesity. The number of categories of adverse childhood exposures showed a graded relationship to the presence of adult diseases including ischemic heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, skeletal fractures, and liver disease. The seven categories of adverse childhood experiences were strongly interrelated and persons with multiple categories of childhood exposure were likely to have multiple health risk factors later in life. Conclusions: We found a strong graded relationship between the breadth of exposure to abuse or household dysfunction during childhood and multiple risk factors for several of the leading causes of death in adults.

Does Meditation Work? We Investigate.

We’d say the science from the last decade is pretty darn convincing. There’s a 2012 study from Johns Hopkins that indicated practicing mindfulness meditation improved anxiety, depression and pain. Another study conducted in the same year at the University of Washington showed that meditation can help increase focus and productivity. As for long-term benefits, research at UCLA showed that participants who meditated for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume (which is responsible for processing information in the brain) than non-meditators. And just last year, a study conducted by doctors at the University of Southampton and psychiatrists at University College London found that reducing anxiety through meditation can reduce the risk of developing dementia later in life. Those are the facts, but the choice is yours. 

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 June 26, 2019

Exercise makes people happier than money, according to a Yale and Oxford study

The researchers concluded that, on average, Americans who regularly exercise feel unwell for 35 days per year, while Americans who are more sedentary feel unwell for 53 days per year. Additionally, they found that physically active Americans feel equally as well as Americans who are more sedentary but earn approximately $25,000 more per year. Money, in fact, does not buy happiness, according to research by Yale University and the University of Oxford. Rather, regular exercise, not economic status, is the greatest predictor of one’s overall happiness. In a Lancet-published study, researchers from Yale and Oxford cross-examined data on the emotional moods, physical activities and income levels of 1.2 million adult Americans. […] The researchers concluded that, on average, Americans who regularly exercise feel unwell for 35 days per year, while Americans who are more sedentary feel unwell for 53 days per year. Additionally, they found that physically active Americans feel equally as well as Americans who are more sedentary but earn approximately $25,000 more per year.

Junk food irreversibly damages male fertility by age 20: Harvard study

Eat well, finish better. Pizza, candy, chips and other processed, high-fat food can cause permanent damage to sperm, according to a new study from Harvard University. The researchers studied nearly 3,000 men ages 18 to 20 and found that vegetarians and those with diets rich in fruit, veggies, chicken and fish had higher sperm counts than those on a “Western diet” of processed meats and junk food. The results will be presented this week at the annual European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Vienna. “It’s almost certain that this is down to an effect that those with the better diets are taking in more antioxidants,” fertility expert professor Allan Pacey of Sheffield University tells The Independent. “With pizza, chips and red meat we know that the [oxidative] stress goes up and that is bad for sperm.”

Those taking antidepressants require 3 to 4 times more opioid medicine to lessen pain

Common antidepressants interact with the opioid pain medication tramadol to make it less effective for pain relief, according to a study from University Hospitals (UH). These findings have important implications for the opioid epidemic, suggesting that some patients suspected of drug-seeking may in fact be under-medicated and just are seeking more effective pain relief. They also could help explain why some people exceed the prescribed dose of tramadol, increasing their risk of addiction. The study was published in the journal Pharmacotherapy. […] Those patients who also were taking the antidepressants Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine) or Wellbutrin (bupropion) required three times more pain medication per day to control “breakthrough” pain throughout the day, when compared with patients not taking those antidepressants. “As we looked at in secondary analysis, it ended up being four times as much over their entire hospital stay,” said Derek Frost, a pharmacist at UH and lead author of the study.

Ian’s thoughts: this has to make you wonder how many opioid overdoses have been due to simultaneous antidepressant use forcing people to take 4 times more opioids than they would otherwise. 

New study: antidepressants significantly raise the risk of suicide among adults

Adults who start treatment with antidepressants for depression are 2.5 times more likely to attempt suicide when compared to placebo, according to new research published today in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. The study found that approximately 1 in every 200 people who start treatment will attempt suicide due to the pharmacologic effects of the drug. This number is significant given around 7.4 million people were prescribed antidepressants in England alone last year, and given international estimates which suggest around 1 in 20 suicide attempts will end in death. The study, ‘Newer-generation antidepressants and suicide risk in randomized controlled trials: A re-analysis of the FDA database’, reanalyses the safety summaries submitted to the FDA (the US drug regulator) for new generation antidepressants (SSRI, SNRI and atypical serotonergic-noradrenergic antidepressants like mirtazapine). The study was led by Dr Michael P. Hengartner, a senior research fellow at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and member of the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry (CEP), and Dr Martin Plöderl, senior researcher at Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg.

Do brain injuries affect women differently than men?

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three women over the age of 15 has experienced what it categorizes as “intimate partner violence.” When Valera extends her sample to the overall population, she gets estimates that as many as 31 million women might have had a T.B.I. and 21 million might have had multiple mild ones. “Using annual estimates of severe physical violence,” Valera notes in a study published last fall in the Journal of Neurotrauma, “1.6 million women can be estimated to sustain repetitive T.B.I.s in comparison to the total annual numbers of T.B.I.s reported for the military and N.F.L. at 18,000 and 281 respectively.” Yet most of what scientists know about the potential prevalence and consequences of mild traumatic brain injury has come from studying contact sports, especially football — so, mostly men and boys — over the past 15 years. […] Unfortunately, they may never benefit from adequate research. Part of the problem is that women hurt by intimate partners tend to hide that fact, making them hard to identify and study. But the bigger issue is that public outrage and advocacy play a major role in determining what research gets funded. In the case of head trauma, almost all the attention is going to football — and so, by extension, to only one gender.

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 June 25, 2019

★ New health alert over antidepressants as study finds higher risk of suicide for patients on pills

Taking antidepressants raises the risk of suicide, a study suggests. Experts last night warned that patients should be told of the dangers before they start taking the pills. The research found depressed people on the drugs were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as similar patients who were not taking them. 

  • People on antidepressants are ‘more than twice as likely to attempt suicide’
  • Research finds antidepressant drugs are producing an excess rate of suicides
  • Experts warn that patients should be told of the dangers before taking the pills
  • More British people take them than those in almost every other Western country

Study leader Dr Michael Hengartner, of Zurich University in Switzerland, said: ‘We can be confident that these drugs are producing an excess rate of suicides, beyond the depression itself. ‘There is no doubt that this must be a response to the pharmacological effect of the drugs themselves.’ Although the increased risk appears stark, in real terms the researchers calculated only 77 extra suicides per 100,000 patients taking the pills. […] The study found that people prescribed antidepressants were 2.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than depressed people taking placebo pills. The research, published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, combined the results of 14 studies involving nearly 32,000 people taking a variety of antidepressants.

Nutritional psychiatry: does food affect your mental health?

Ever wondered whether the proverbial saying ‘you are what you eat’ might actually be true? According to one school of thought called nutritional psychiatry, it may well be. A growing body of research has found that the foods we consume can affect our mental health; with certain nutrients benefiting our wellbeing, while others have been found to exacerbate conditions such as depression and anxiety. […] Nutritional psychiatry is about employing diet as a means to improve and safeguard your mental wellbeing. ‘Nutritional psychiatry utilises food and supplements as an alternative to medication in the treatment of mental health,’ says Fairclough. ‘Linking the food that you eat with the effect it has on your brain,’ adds Camfield. ‘Science has shown that not only can what we eat impact our physical health, it can also influence our mental health as well with research emerging to suggest nutritional interventions as a possible strategy for the management of psychological health.’

The secret to happiness is learning to love yourself (here’s how to start)

Happiness seems like it should be simple, but learning how to be happy can actually be a really difficult thing. This is because, in the pursuit of happiness, life tends to present both great struggles and great difficulty. This means that authentic happiness tends to be fleeting because it’s hard to love yourself and when troubling times strike to be able to answer the question, “What is happiness?” Life tends to present you with great love and successes as well as great losses and grief, so figuring out how to be happy in life doesn’t always come easily.

When your happiness is governed by your mood, it also tends to be fleeting. Everyone has good moods and bad moods. Real happiness is not just a mood, but a deep joy within you. Real happiness doesn’t come from outer circumstance or temporary moods, but from an inner relationship to yourself. It is a deep joy within you, a steadiness, a peace, a love, a connectedness that you have to life where your spirit and your heart are awakened.

8 signs getting in the way of your own happiness

Most of us want to be happy, right? Of course, life has its share of unfortunate circumstances and sad moments, but you mostly crave joy and happiness as you go about your day. Why, then, do you often feel unhappy or have a nagging feeling that doom and gloom are at your heels—even when things are going well for you? Experts say there are several reasons you might be unable to experience the happiness you deserve. And guess what? The common thread that’s likely holding you back is… you. Here are eight ways you might be getting in the way of your own happiness.

Money does make you happy, but only to a point

Staying within a healthy weight range does not just reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. “Fat is active in terms of inflammatory markers for your brain and it makes you unhappy,” Mosley said. “It’s true whether you are obese or whether you are overweight – you have an increased risk of becoming depressed by about 27 per cent.” Its not just weight, it’s what you eat, added Mosley, who favours the Mediterranean diet: “People do say to me ‘if the Mediterranean diet is so good, then why are people in Greece so fat?’ and I say, ‘Because they’re not eating the Mediterranean diet anymore.’” Those who are eating the real deal – which is a diet rich in oily fish, leafy vegetables, fruit and nuts – like the Swedes, are seeing the benefits. Research by the Food and Mood Centre has found depressed participants who ate a Mediterranean diet for three months experienced a ”much greater reduction in their depressive symptoms”, compared with those who received standard psychiatric care over the same period.

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

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

News & Information for June 24, 2019

Antidepressants Can Lead To Reduced Responses To Pain Empathy

Antidepressant treatment can lead to impaired empathy regarding perception of pain, and not just the state of depression itself, according to a collaboration involving social neuroscientists, neuroimaging experts, and psychiatrists from the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna. Depression is a disorder that often comes along with strong impairments of social functioning. Until recently, researchers assumed that acute episodes of depression also impair empathy, an essential skill for successful social interactions and understanding others. However, previous research had been mostly carried out in groups of patients who were on antidepressant medication. […] After three months of antidepressant treatment, the research revealed relevant differences: patients reported their level of empathy to be lower, and brain activation was reduced in areas previously associated with empathy.

★ Common drugs including antidepressants could increase dementia risk

Common drugs including antidepressants could increase the risk of dementia by up to 50 per cent, a major study has found. Experts said the findings had “enormous implications” for millions of Britons, with half of middle-aged people taking one of the medications. The class of drugs – which are also prescribed to treat bladder conditions, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy- are called anticholinergic medication. Scientists said they could be could be responsible for as many as one in 10 cases of dementia. The study by Nottingham University, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, involved more than 280,000 UK patients over the age of 55 – including around 59,000 with a diagnosis of dementia. […] Their findings showed an almost 50 per cent increased risk of dementia among patients aged 55 and over who had used strong anticholinergic medication daily for three years or more.

The drug classes with the highest elevation of dementia risk in the study were antidepressants, antiparkinsons and antipsychotics.

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 June 22-23, 2019

Dr. Breggin interviewed regarding medications and rising Gen Z suicide

More than 200 prescription medications list depressive symptoms or suicidal thinking as possible side effects. The risk of these side effects increases if a person takes multiple prescriptions carrying those possible side effects.  Psychiatrist Peter Breggin, the author of Medication Madness, told CBN News far too many people who are taking these drugs don’t read the warning labels, and too many doctors don’t mention the possible side effects of drugs they prescribe. “Any drug that is affecting your mind, your mood, your feelings, has the potential to cause a disaster. Most of the school shooters have been on psychiatric drugs, and a great number of them were on psychiatric drugs at the time or shortly before they committed violence. And violence and suicide go together. Are you going to turn your rage out or are you going to turn your rage inward?” he said.

.No Significant Differences Between CBT Delivery Formats for Depression

The efficacy of individual, group, telephone-administered, and guided self-help delivery formats for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) do not differ significantly in the treatment of depression, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. […] A total of 155 studies with 15,191 patients met the inclusion criteria; 2 studies that had 2 CBT interventions underwent separate comparisons. Individual, group, guided self-help, and telephone CBT were significantly more effective than unguided self-help CBT (standardized mean difference 0.34-0.59). There were no statistically significant differences between individual, group, guided self-help, and telephone CBT; a small but significant superiority of group CBT over guided self-help CBT was found (standard mean difference 0.25). Unguided self-help was statistically less effective than individual, group, telephone, and guided help CBT. Results of these analyses were broadly confirmed in several sensitivity analyses.

15 Frightful Facts About Nightmares

A dream is a recollection of subjective experiences that happen during rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep. On the other hand, nightmares are markedly dysphoric dreams with intense negative emotions which primarily manifest during late-night REM sleep. Due to dreams themselves being subjective, the research on dreams has been largely empirical. Lots of dream research connects it to mental health. Ever since Freud wrote that “the interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind” in his book Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, experts have been interested in the relationship between mental pathology and dreams. To learn more, let’s take a look at these 15 facts about nightmares:

Depression, Inflammation and Women’s Mental Health

The link between depression and the body’s inflammatory response continues getting stronger, with more research showing an ever-tighter correlation. Whether inflammation causes depression has been difficult to nail down, but findings from a new study suggest we could be getting closer to an answer. For women in particular, it seems higher levels of inflammation can lead to an underlying condition that fuels depression. […] “The study is the first to show that there are sex differences in neural sensitivity to reward in response to inflammation, which has important implications […] This may suggest one reason women experience depression at a far greater rate than men, particularly for the kinds of depression that may be inflammatory in nature.” […] “This [study] suggests that women with chronic inflammatory disorders may be particularly vulnerable to developing depression through decreases in sensitivity to reward,” added the study’s first author Mona Moieni, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher. “Clinicians who treat female patients with inflammatory disorders may want to pay close attention to these patients for the possible onset of depressive symptoms.”

Lee Coleman – Breaking Out of the Circle: Creating a Non-Violent Revolution

This week on MIA Radio, we continue our series of discussions with Doctor Lee Coleman. In previous podcasts, we have discussed Lee’s views as a critical psychiatrist and the role of psychiatry in the courtroom. This time, we turn our attention to the need for action to address the inherent power held by psychiatry and how society might respond.

How strong is the link between mental health and crime?

In my job, I assess and treat patients in prisons, secure locked forensic psychiatric units and in court during criminal trials. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of my patients are men. What I’m interested in (and what keeps me in a job) is the link between mental illness and violence and also the reasons behind the gender bias. Men are grossly overrepresented in terms of violent offences. According to the Ministry Of Justice national statistics, 85 per cent of all arrests in 2016/2017 were of men and in 2018 95 per cent of prisoners were male. […] As for the link between violence and mental illness, different studies yield disparate results. There are many reasons behind this: different populations are studied, the definition of mental illness can vary and violence can be defined and measured in alternate ways (arrests vs convictions; severe vs more minor). The general consensus is that although the vast majority of patients with serious mental illnesses (such as schizophrenia) will not behave violently, there is still an indisputable link.

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 June 21, 2019

The Rise and Fall of the Depression Gene

This landmark study, in the midst of an endless nature-nurture debate, was evidence that not only were both genetic and environmental factors important, the two worlds actually depended on each other. This demonstration of what was called a “gene-environment interaction” became a cornerstone principle in our understanding of how behavior, both typical and atypical, develops. […] A new study, now, throws all of this into question. [… it] has dealt a major blow to the entire candidate gene world.  Using samples of up to nearly half a million people, the researchers decided to try and replicate the results of dozens of previously published links (which were often based on much smaller samples) between 18 particular candidate genes and depression, either on their own or in interaction with environmental factors such as early abuse or poverty.  What they found was essentially nothing, and the authors argued that these particular genes are “no more associated with depression… than genes chosen at random.” In the end, the authors call researchers to “abandon” candidate gene research in depression.  And since the release of the paper, few people seem to be arguing otherwise.

Why psychiatry & nutrition need to go together

Nutritional psychiatry is a growing facet in the mental health industry. In it, professionals prescribe foods that will nourish the brain in the best possible way, giving the brain the tools it needs to fight inflammation and rebalance. This nutrition-inclusive mindset makes sense. Your brain is constantly churning 24/7—as the powerhouse of the body, it never really gets a break. It needs high-quality, nourishing fuel to keep it functioning smoothly, a lot like a sports car. Give it the wrong fuel (or a low grade of fuel), and you might do some costly damage. When you think of it that way, it’s amazing that nutrition isn’t already an essential component of any mental wellness protocol. As more and more mental health professionals turn to nutrition to provide relief for depression, anxiety and low self esteem, here are three widely-researched nutrition principles that exert some of the most powerful control over our moods.

Early regular cannabis use associated with impaired cognitive control

The development of neural circuits in youth, at a particularly important time in their lives, can be heavily influenced by external factors — specifically the frequent and regular use of cannabis. A new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), published by Elsevier, reports that alterations in cognitive control — an ensemble of processes by which the mind governs, regulates and guides behaviors, impulses, and decision-making based on goals are directly affected. The researchers found that these brain alterations were less intense in individuals who recently stopped using cannabis, which may suggest that the effects of cannabis are more robust in recent users. Additional findings from the study also suggest greater and more persistent alterations in individuals who initiated cannabis use earlier, while the brain is still developing.

The U.S. suicide rate reaches its highest level in decades

Suicide doesn’t discriminate: It affects people regardless of age, race, class, gender or income level, and for every completed suicide, there are 25 other attempts. That’s why it’s a public health crisis — it is the tenth leading cause of death in United States. And now that number may be on the rise. According to a new report, suicide rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, with a particular uptick observed in indigenous women. The report, published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, found the suicide rate was 33 percent higher in 2017 than in 1999, making it the highest since World War II. The increase affected both women and men; however, Native American and Native Alaskan rates were particularly high.

Ian’s thoughts: Suicide is rising despite the fact that antidepressant use has also been rising. According to CDC data, when SSRIs were first hitting the market, during 1988-1994, only 1.8% of Americans were taking antidepressants. But during 2011-2014 that percentage had risen markedly to 10.7% of Americans. So, on average, approximately 1 out of every 10 Americans you see are taking an antidepressant! Yet rather than reducing the worst consequence of depression, suicide has also been rising. No surprise to those of us familiar with Dr. Breggin’s work!

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 June 20, 2019

Women Are Ditching Their Antidepressants At Higher Rates Than Men

I was first prescribed antidepressants for chronic, low-level depression in 2013. That doesn’t make me special; Harvard Health Publishing estimates that one in 10 women ages 18 and over are on antidepressants, and women are twice as likely as men to take antidepressant medication, according to national survey data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). […] Research shows that nearly a quarter of antidepressant prescriptions are never filled and 30 to 60 percent of all patients commencing treatment with antidepressants stop taking the medication within the first 12 weeks. Women are less likely to adhere to their prescriptions than men. […] “There’s a continuum of treatments for all people with depression that starts with lifestyle changes, including things like meditation, following a healthy diet, and talk therapy” […] There’s a reason antidepressants come with a black-box warning from the Food and Drug Administration: they can be associated with an increased risk of suicidal thinking, feeling, and behavior. That’s what happened to Jandra S., 29, who was prescribed antidepressants for anxiety and depression. “The first time I took antidepressants, I didn’t even notice that my symptoms were getting worse,” she says. “I just remember hitting a low point—on the verge of suicide—and I couldn’t remember how I got there.” She stopped taking the meds about a month after being prescribed them.

Video chat with friends, family for a mental health boost

A recent study from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland found that the use of video chat with friends and family also may be an effective way for older adults to dramatically reduce their risk for depression. The study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, used data from the National Institute on Aging’s Health and Retirement Study, which surveys older Americans every two years. […] Researchers found that older adults who connected with their loved ones through email exchanges, Facebook posts or instant messaging sessions had about the same rate of depression compared to those who did not. By contrast, those who communicated through video chat cut their probability of depression by nearly half. “We need to get beyond a discussion of technology being good or bad […] The conversation we need to be having, and I hope that this study helps move forward, is what ways should we be using our technology and what particular types of platforms might be the most beneficial for our health and happiness.”

Spending time outdoors is linked to a serious boost in well-being, the kind that lasts a lifetime

It’s been established that people who spend more time in parks and other natural settings tend to report higher levels of health and happiness, but new research shows there’s actually a magic number for it. According to a study published this week in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, spending 120 minutes a week strolling a tree-lined street or sitting by a lake can greatly enhance a person’s overall sense of well-being. Less time didn’t yield any significant benefit, the research showed. Those who got in two to three hours in nature were about 20 percent more likely to report high overall satisfaction with their lives than those who spent no time outdoors at all. The benefits to physical health were even greater, with those who met the outdoors benchmark being 60 percent more likely to report being in good health than their cooped-in counterparts. […] That’s exactly what the current research does, using a nationally representative sample of 20,000 people living in England. The authors note their approach is similar to what governments have used in the past to develop physical activity guidelines for adults and children. They envision the creation of similar guidelines around exposure to nature.

Can a happier spouse help you live longer?

My husband Don is generally a pretty cheerful guy. He has a great network of friends, takes good care of himself, and does work that is meaningful to him. Certainly, Don’s happy disposition is a boon for me, as his happiness makes our relationship run more smoothly. But could it have any impact on my health—perhaps even extending my life? A new study by Olga Stavrova of Tilburg University in the Netherlands looked at that very question. […] Her findings were pretty remarkable: When a person’s partner was significantly happier—in science-speak, one standard deviation higher than average in life satisfaction—that person had a 13 percent lower chance of dying within the eight-year period. This was true regardless of the person’s age, ethnicity, SES [socioeconomic status], or health when their partner’s happiness was measured. […]  A happier partner tended to exercise more, which was tied to a person’s own willingness to exercise more. And since more exercise is tied to greater longevity, it’s possible that this social influence around exercising is what’s making the difference.

Viewpoint: Neuroscientists cannot afford to ignore differences between male, female brains

As a neuroscientist who identifies as a woman, I love that there is discussion of dismantling the patriarchy and supporting diversity for those working in STEM. But, as a neuroscientist who studied the neurobiology of postpartum depression and how hormones affect the brain, there’s another layer to the issue of sexism in the field that we have to talk about: diversifying our research subject pools. Neuroscience has historically had a problem of predominantly using male test subjects, from studies of how the brain works to what happens in brain illnesses. The field then assumes that whatever has been true for them will be true for everyone else. This assumption is dangerous. Take the drug zolpidem (trade name: Ambien) to treat insomnia. When the medication was first released in 1992, doctors provided men and women with prescriptions of equal doses of zolpidem, and hoped that this would alleviate their sleep troubles. But, no such luck… for women. Women began reporting adverse effects ranging from hallucinations to sensory distortions because the drug was not clearing out as quickly from their bodies. In 2010, women accounted for 68% of ER visits related to zolpidem. Researchers are still not entirely sure why women are more sensitive to it; hypotheses range from differences in how men and women’s liver enzymes work, body weight differences, and even testosterone levels. Nonetheless, the FDA now recommends that women should be prescribed smaller doses than men.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for June 19, 2019

★ Antidepressants can reduce empathy for those in pain

Novel insights of an interdisciplinary collaboration involving social neuroscientists, neuroimaging experts, and psychiatrists from the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna show that antidepressant treatment can lead to impaired empathy regarding perception of pain, and not just the state of depression itself. The results of this study have been published in the scientific journal Translational Psychiatry. […] patients underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while watching videos of people undergoing painful medical procedures. Their brain activity and self-reported empathy were compared to those of a group of healthy controls. Before treatment, patients and controls responded in a comparable way. After three months of antidepressant treatment, the research revealed relevant differences: patients reported their level of empathy to be lower, and brain activation was reduced in areas previously associated with empathy.

Those results corroborate one of Dr Breggin’s basic scientific observations, that all psychoactive drugs suppress empathy for self and others and antidepressants very potently.

Mindfulness appears to diminish depression by reducing rumination

New research sheds light on the relatio