January 1, 2020

Daily Breaking News & Information – Sept – Dec 2019

Sept – Dec 2019


News & Information for December 31, 2019

‘Happier people live longer’: UBC prof to study how you can boost your happiness levels

For the good of your health, a UBC psychology professor wants you to have to a happier life — and it won’t require a lottery win, a bigger house or all new people. Dr. Nancy Sin, a health psychologist, says a happier life, even a happier holiday season, might just be found in recognizing the small, good things that happen in the course of an ordinary day. A dog walk. A chat with a neighbour. A smile from a child through the window of a passing car. “Happier people live longer,” assistant professor Nancy Sin said in a phone interview with Postmedia. “Scientific research over the last decade has exploded around the connection between positive emotions and health outcomes.”

2020 New Year’s resolution: 10 ways to feel less stressful this year

According to Gallup’s 2019 data on emotional states, Americans are among the most stressed out populations in the world. Fifty-five percent (yes, more than half) of the American population reports experiencing stress during the day—every day. This is 20% higher than the world average of 35%. So it’s safe to say that a noble, necessary, and healthy goal to set for yourself in the new year is to take a deep breath, evaluate your life, and calm down a bit. To help you do that, we’ve gathered the top scientifically proven ways to reduce your anxiety. Here’s how to kick off a more relaxed decade in 2020.

First-of-its-kind study from University of Penn links job loss to opioid deaths

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania links eroding economic opportunity to opioid deaths. Many have wondered what is causing the opioid epidemic and this study makes a connection that health officials might miss. Researchers at the University of Penn found when factories close or when there is widespread job loss in a community, deaths from opioid overdoses soar. The opioid epidemic has hit the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia especially hard, but doctors say substance abuse is everywhere.


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 December 30, 2019

Great 30-Minute Overview

 The whistleblower and Penn: a final accounting of study 352

Although the general story of ghostwriting in trials of psychiatric drugs is now pretty well known, the details of the corruption in specific trials are still emerging into the public record, often a decade or more after the original sin of fraudulent publication. The latest study to finally see the full light of day is GlaxoSmithKline’s study 352. Perhaps the most infamous ghostwritten study is GSK’s study 329, which, in a 2001 report published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, falsely touted paroxetine (Paxil) as an effective treatment for adolescent depression. The company paid over $3 billion in penalties for fraud. […] As of this writing, the ghostwritten 2001 article, with its misleading conclusions about the data in study 352, remains a part of the research literature. It hasn’t been retracted, or even corrected, by The American Journal of Psychiatry. After its publication in 2001, the article was cited in hundeds of medical journals, textbooks and practice guidelines as evidence that Paxil could be beneficial in the treatment of bipolar depression. It may still be cited for that “finding,” and in that way, the corruption lives on.  

4 ways journaling can boost your mental health in 2020

Studies consistently show the surprising health benefits that come from keeping a journal. Personally, I’ve seen improvements in my own life from keeping a journal for nearly a decade; and professionally, I’ve seen thousands of examples of others whose lives have improved by using my company’s digital journaling app. Drawing on those experiences, here are four ways journaling can help you increase your mental health in 2020 […] The mental and physical health benefits that come from journaling are compelling, but even more, having a record of your life, your accomplishments, your trials and even the most ordinary memories is invaluable for anyone. 

Dietary research on coffee: Improving adjustment for confounding

Meta-analyses have reported higher levels of coffee consumption to be associated with lower mortality. In contrast, some systematic reviews have linked coffee consumption to increased risks for lung cancer and hypertension. Given these inconsistencies, this narrative review critically evaluated the methods and analyses of cohort studies investigating coffee and mortality. A specific focus was adjustment for confounding related to smoking, healthy and unhealthy foods and alcohol. Assessment of 36 cohort samples showed many did not adequately adjust for smoking. Consuming 1–5 cups of coffee per day was related to lower mortality among never smokers, in studies which adjusted for pack-years of smoking, and studies adjusting for healthy and unhealthy foods. Possible reduced health benefits for coffee with added sugar have not been adequately investigated. Research on coffee and health should report separate analyses for never smokers, adjust for consumption of healthy and unhealthy foods, and for sugar added to coffee.

Taking a short break from Instagram: the effects on subjective well-being

This study investigated whether abstaining from Instagram (Ig) affects subjective well-being among young men and women. By comparing an intervention group (40 participants who take a break from Ig for a week) with a control group (40 participants who kept using Ig), we found that women who quitted Ig reported significantly higher levels of life satisfaction and positive affect than women who kept using it. Whereas positive affect increment depended on social appearance comparison, life satisfaction rose independent of the tendency to compare one’s own appearance with others. It is possible that users who are no longer exposed to direct evaluative feedback about their images on Ig—be it related to their appearance, habits, or opinions—can witness an increase in their global satisfaction levels. No significant effects were found among men.

Why do we feel guilty about taking breaks & how to take restorative breaks

Do you find yourself feeling guilty for taking time off? Or constantly feel like you have to tell people how busy you are in order to feel valued? In this mini episode I discuss why we feel guilty for something our brains and bodies need, how to take effective breaks that will boost mental and brain health, what I do to relax and recharge, and how to avoid burnout.

People are not very good at keeping their promises for self-improvement 

Using an idiographic-nomothetic methodology, we assessed individuals’ ability to change their personality traits without therapeutic or experimental involvement. Participants from internet and college populations completed trait measures and reported current personality change desires. Self-reported traits as well as perceptions of trait change were collected after 1-year (Internet) and 6-months (College). In large part, volitional personality change desires did not predict actual change. When desires did predict change, (a) desired increases in Extraversion, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness corresponded with decreases in corresponding traits, (b) participants perceived more change than actually occurred, and (c) decreases in Emotional Stability predicted perceptions of personality change. Results illustrate the difficulty in purposefully changing one’s traits when left to one’s own devices. 

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 December 28-29, 2019

Mindfulness linked to acceptance and self-compassion in response to stressful experiences

A study recently published in the journal Emotion provides new insight into the relationship between mindfulness and coping with stress. The findings indicate that accepting stressful experiences is associated with one’s propensity to experience positive emotions. “We were interested in learning more about why mindfulness might be a helpful resource for stress management — especially for first-semester university students undergoing the stressful transition to college life,” said study author Lucy Finkelstein-Fox, a doctoral candidate at the University of Connecticut and member of the Meaning, Spirituality, and Health Lab. “Earlier studies have shown that individuals with high levels of mindfulness demonstrate acceptance, self-compassion, distress tolerance, and flexibility, but we still know very little about how these mindful qualities actually build positive and negative affect in the context of stressful situations.”

Evolutionary Psychology of Intrasexual Competition & Moral Typecasting

Study identifies factors of microbiome composition in endometrial cancer

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic have identified a microbiome signature associated with endometrial cancer, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. The signature is in part driven by postmenopausal status, along with additional known risk factors for endometrial cancer such as obesity and high vaginal pH (>4.5), which together significantly modify the composition of the reproductive tract biome and leads to an increased diversity. Previous studies have demonstrated that healthy vaginal microbiota is most commonly low in diversity and dominated by Lactobacilli species. “Of the 17 taxa we found enriched in (endometrial cancer) patients, 8 were also enriched by postmenopause,” said the researchers. “Because postmenopausal status is a main risk factor for endometrial cancer, this system can be thought of as an ecological succession towards a disease state.”

Study: Owning a dog during childhood may reduce risk of mental health problems

A new study reveals that owning a dog can help children stay healthier. Researchers at Baltimore’s Sheppard Pratt Health System discovered that having a dog during childhood can minimize the risk of mental health problems during adulthood, the New York Times reports. The study found that having a dog in the home as a child reduces a person’s chance of having schizophrenia by 24%. More than half of the subjects in the study grew up with canines prior to becoming a teenager. Researchers say that percentage more than doubled for babies who were around dogs. The lead researcher on the study is still working to determine why there’s an apparent link between dogs and schizophrenia.

How to address the mental health crisis in Generation Z

Recent studies have revealed a troubling trend among Generation Z (those born from 1995 to 2015), as rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide in this cohort are markedly higher than in previous generations. For example, a 2019 study found that among undergraduate students, “rates of depression, anxiety, … and suicide attempts markedly increased [from 2007 to 2018], with rates doubling over the period in many cases.” These increases have been found for both males and females, though they’re especially pronounced among girls and young women. I find these developments concerning both as a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating anxiety and depression, and as the dad of three Gen Z kids (including two daughters). Some have argued that these trends are not real, but instead reflect this generation’s greater openness about their mental health symptoms. However, there is evidence that these numbers reflect a disturbing reality; for example, it’s hard to argue that the increased rates of suicide attempts and completed suicide are simply a self-reporting bias.

Mindfulness training may lower blood pressure

There is anecdotal evidence that meditation and mindfulness training may be able to reduce high blood pressure and hypertension. However, clinical confirmation of these claims has been scarce until last month, when researchers published a new study in the journal PLOS One. The authors report the results of a Mindfulness-Based Blood Pressure Reduction (MB-BP) program specifically designed to “evaluate acceptability, feasibility, and effects on hypothesized proximal self-regulation mechanisms.” […] “We know enough about hypertension that we can theoretically control it in everybody — yet in about half of all people diagnosed, it is still out of control,” according to lead author Eric Loucks, associate professor of epidemiology, behavioral and social sciences, and medicine at Brown University in Providence, RI.

Meditation prevents abnormal heart enlargement and failure

A randomized controlled study recently published in Ethnicity & Disease in their Autumn 2019 Hypertension issue found that the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique helps to prevent abnormal enlargement of the heart compared to health education (HE) controls. Also known as left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), it can lead to chronic heart failure and death, and is especially prevalent among African Americans. […] “This is a form of heart disease where nondrug treatments are relatively understudied,” said Professor Robert Schneider, MD, FACC, first author. “Since the physiology of stress contributes to cardiac enlargement, we hypothesized that managing one’s mind-body connection with Transcendental Meditation might prevent the disease process.”

This type of chocolate may help prevent depression

Newresearch published in the journal Depression & Anxietysuggests that eating dark chocolate could lower the risk of depression. A cross-sectional survey of 13,626 adults found that after eating dark chocolate, people experienced less depressive symptoms. People who ate dark chocolate in the past 24 hours were 70% less likely to experience depression. Depression symptoms were measured using Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ‐9) scores. People experienced less depression even with a small amount of dark chocolate as low as 12 grams a day (an average-sized chocolate bar is 43 grams). Overall, 11.1% reported that they ate chocolate, but only 1.4% reporting eating dark chocolate. Dark chocolate was defined as chocolate with at least 45% cocoa.

Religion may be a lifeline for some low-income seniors

Seniors in rental flats who are not religious have a higher risk of visiting the emergency room than those who are religious, a local study has found. It also noted that seniors in rental flats who are employed have a lower risk of going to the emergency room or being hospitalised than those who are not working. The study, which surveyed residents aged 60 and above in public rental housing blocks between December 2016 and March 2017, aims to plug a gap when it comes to information on the socio-demographic characteristics of patients who are the most in need. […] Data analysis also showed that those who felt loneliness were more likely to have visited emergency rooms in the previous six months. “Perhaps lonely residents in disadvantaged rental flat populations utilise healthcare more frequently because smaller social networks provide less reserves of support to fall back on in the event of illness,” the study said.


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 December 27, 2019

Flashback Friday: Dr. Breggin on Medication Madness (2012)

Milestones in gut microbiome science in 2019

The human microbiome has not only captured the attention of scientists, but also healthcare practitioners and the lay press. […] Most of what we know about the relationship between gut microbes and mental health has been explored in animal studies. In 2019, Valles-Colomer and colleagues strengthened the link between changes in gut microbiota composition and depression and quality of life scores in two large population cohorts. The researchers also curated from literature 56 gut-brain modules related to neuroactive compounds, which represents a leap forward in mental health research. However, scientists still struggle to elucidate the mechanistic underpinnings of gut-brain communication. Writing in Nature, Chu and colleagues have unraveled, in unprecedented detail, mechanisms by which the gut microbiota affects mice fear conditioning.

Mindfulness video game changes areas of the brain associated with attention

A research team at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of California, Irvine, designed a video game to improve mindfulness in middle schoolers and found that when young people played the game, they showed changes in areas of their brains that underlie attention. “Most educational video games are focused on presenting declarative information: various facts about a particular subject, like biology or chemistry,” says Elena Patsenko, a research scientist at the Center for Healthy Minds and lead author on the recently published paper. “Our aim is different. We want to actually change the cognitive or emotional processes — how people think or process information they’re trying to learn.” […] Researchers found that adolescents in the Tenacity group had changes in the connectivity between their left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the left inferior parietal cortex in the brain, which are two areas critical for attention. These changes in the brain were associated with improvements on an attention task in the lab and were found only in the group playing Tenacity. Kids who played Fruit Ninja showed none of these changes.

A series of meta-analytic tests of the efficacy of long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy

Recent meta-analyses come to conflicting conclusions about the efficacy of long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy (LTPP). Our first goal was to reproduce the most recent meta-analysis by Leichsenring, Abbass, Luyten, Hilsenroth, and Rabung (2013) who found evidence for the efficacy of LTPP in the treatment of complex mental disorders. Our replicated effect sizes were in general slightly smaller. Second, we conducted an updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing LTPP (lasting for at least 1 year and 40 sessions) to other forms of psychotherapy in the treatment of complex mental disorders. […] In conclusion, LTPP might be superior to other forms of psychotherapy in the treatment of complex mental disorders. Notably, our effect sizes represent the additional gain of LTPP versus other forms of primarily long-term psychotherapy. In this case, large differences in effect sizes are not to be expected.

Hiking for healing: Nature helps anxiety among cancer survivors

After a few minutes on the hiking trail, Dr. Duna Goswami felt her stress lessen. “It was like I was in a green tunnel. I could smell the fresh air. I could hear the water dripping from the trees,” she said. The Abbotsford physician was one of nine cancer survivors who participated in a program designed by a University of the Fraser Valley kinesiology professor to see if nature has the ability to reduce anxiety levels. Over eight weeks in September and October, the group met twice a week to hike in the Cultus Lake area. Early results, based on interviews with the participants, seem to prove the oft-touted notion that nature really does soothe the soul. “A number of them said it helped them realize how strong they were,” said lead researcher Dr. Iris Lesser. “When asked to rank their anxiety before and after the hike, we saw a drop in stress.”

11 meditation apps for better sleep and less stress

Research suggests that the benefits of meditation can include a reduction in stress levels, anxiety, depression and insomnia. And don’t forget the physical benefits: Meditation and deep breathing can also reduce blood pressure and improve your heart rate variability, a metric that can tell you how well you handle stress. In addition, many studies show sleep meditation can calm your mind and help you get a more quality night’s sleep. For many people, finding the time or energy to commit to a regular practice is difficult, and though in-person visits to a meditation studio are a great option for some, for others they may not be a practical approach to consistent meditation. With a little help from the right app, zen could be as little as three minutes away. Here are the best meditation apps of 2020 to improve your mindfulness practice and relax your mind. […] This guide to the best meditation app picks is a list of meditation, mindfulness and breathing apps that claim some of the best ratings on iTunes and Google Play. None fall below four stars, and they all boast gushing reviews from happy customers.

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 December 26, 2019

A decade of fitness research

 In one study after another, physical activity beneficially remodeled the brains of children and the middle-aged; lowered people’s risks for dementia or, if dementia had already begun, slowed memory loss; and increased brain volume, tissue health and the quality of connections between neurons and different portions of the brain. Exercise also seems able to buoy moods far more than most of us, including scientists, might have expected 10 years ago. In observational studies, physically active people proved to be much less likely to develop depression or anxiety than sedentary people, no matter what types of activities they chose. Walking, jogging, gardening, weight training, swimming, biking, hiking or even rising from an office or living room chair often and strolling across the room seemed to make people happier and less prone to mood problems than remaining still.

Opioid crisis: the benzodiazepine issue

The Opiate Crisis has taken a huge toll, however, the mobilization by communities and government has started to have an impact. But many people speak of another drug crisis at least as severe that is already upon us. In any given year more than 40 million Americans are given this drug family and it is estimated that there are currently 6 million Americans addicted –triple the estimated 2 million addicted to opiates. This is the family of drugs known as Benzodiazepines, or “Benzos” for short. […] “It is great for a one time use – maybe no more often than once every few weeks or months, but I don’t know of anyone that can use it that way. The next thing I knew I was having more issues getting to sleep, so I took it more often. Then I needed stronger doses. Then I started having withdrawal symptoms during the day, so my prescription was increased so I could take it throughout the day. Soon I couldn’t get enough of it to do what I started using it in the first place for – to sleep. And my doctor – he didn’t know anything about withdrawal so he kept on prescribing more,” Carey said.

Omega-3s may offer an alternative treatment for “ADHD,” study says

A new study offers more evidence for a different solution to ADHD. Researchers found, in certain cases, omega-3 fish oil supplements can help children with ADHD more than common medications. What did the researchers find? Previous studies had established a link between omega-3s and ADHD but were inconclusive when it came to using supplements in treatment. This study was able to establish the specific cases when supplements can make a big difference and to isolate a particular fatty-acid that seems to make a difference. […] “Our results suggest that fish oil supplements are at least as effective for attention as conventional pharmacological treatments among those children with ADHD who have omega-3 deficiency,” said co-lead researcher Jane Chang, Ph.D., of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College.

Researchers set the record straight on controversial Zoloft study

Several months ago, Lancet Psychiatry published a study, led by Gemma Lewis, that found sertraline (brand name Zoloft) ineffective for treating depression, even for people with severe symptoms. However, despite this finding, the researchers went on to suggest the drug be prescribed to people who do not have a diagnosis of depression or anxiety. Mad in America covered that article at the time. After some controversy, Lancet Psychiatry has decided to spend an issue addressing the criticisms of that article. In it are three new re-assessments of the study by other researchers. […] The results were “negative regarding the effects of sertraline on the primary outcome of depressive symptoms at week 6 (effect size 0.09), and there was only a marginal effect at week 12 (effect size 0.18). There was no interaction between sertraline and baseline severity, indicating that sertraline did not lead to a clinically meaningful reduction in depressive symptoms in patients with mild and severe depression.” Hengartner and his co-authors write that the results have been spun by “the media and various experts” who argued that the drug would still be helpful to those with severe symptoms.

This is how getting outside heals your gut

From the food we eat to the stress in our lives, we know what happens in our gastrointestinal tract undoubtedly affects our mental health. And as we learn more about the importance of gut health as it relates to mood, a study by the University of Adelaide has revealed none other than Mother Nature as a friend to the mammalian microbiome. The study was conducted on 54 mice in total, with 18 mice per group. The scientists wanted to look at how exposure to dust from soils with varying levels of biodiversity affected the guts of the mice. And what they found suggests yet another reason to get some (real) fresh air. […] The findings are a “significant step forward in showing that airborne exposure to natural biodiversity can influence the gut microbiome, and therefore, our health,” says lead author of the study Craig Liddicoat, Ph.D.

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 December 25, 2019

The neuroscience behind Christmas Cheer

Evidence of Christmas cheer inside the brain was found during a study run at the University of Denmark in 2015. Twenty people were shown images with either a Christmas or non-Christmas theme while having their brain monitored in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. The fMRI machine highlights parts of the brain when there is an increase or decrease in activity in that region. And when there was an increase of activity for this study, that region lit up like … well, a Christmas tree. When the participants saw photographs of Christmas themed images, such as mince pies, a network of brain regions lit up, leading the researchers to conclude that they had found the hub of Christmas cheer inside the human brain. What the activation in brain regions actually meant, the researchers couldn’t say. One theory was that that network in the brain could be related to memories or spirituality. The scientific understanding of our internal experiences is changing and it now seems likely that Christmas cheer may be an emotion in itself.

Do religious patients need religious therapists?

Religious individuals seeking mental health treatment do just as well with non-religious therapists as with therapists who share their religion, as long as therapists understand and respect the religion, according to a new study from Touro College published in the January issue of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders. “The research suggests that treatment of clinical mood and anxiety disorders in the Orthodox Jewish community using a skills-based modality such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is equally effective on average when provided by Orthodox and non-Orthodox therapists, provided the non-Orthodox are familiar with Orthodox Jewish culture and respectful of religious-cultural differences,” says Dr. Steven Tzvi Pirutinsky, PhD.

A guide to the best probiotics

Probiotics can help populate the gut with good bacteria. This is a key part of a person’s immune system. Gut bacteria have many functions in the body and affect things such as weight, mood, and inflammation. In recent years, there has been a lot of interest in how probiotics can support health and reduce a person’s risk and symptoms of certain conditions. […] Many probiotics contain mixtures of two or more individual strains of bacteria or yeasts. They may also contain prebiotics, which are compounds that the probiotics can feed on. If a formula contains both probiotics and prebiotics, it is called a “synbiotic.”Products most often contain Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium species, although many other species exist. Different strains of the same species of probiotics can act in different ways, according to some research. Some people take probiotics for maintaining everyday health. When using a probiotic for a specific health concern, people should speak to a healthcare professional about the best strategy. This is because clinical trials show that different probiotics and dosages are effective for different conditions and situations.

Could having a family dog lower a child’s risk of schizophrenia?

You might just want to throw Fido a few extra bones for the holidays, as new research suggests that growing up with a dog may lower schizophrenia risk by as much as 24%. Unfortunately, cat lovers are out of luck. No similar link was seen with respect to feline ownership. “We found that a history of having had a pet dog present at birth or before age 3 was associated with a lower prevalence of schizophrenia, as compared to individuals who did not have this exposure,” said lead author Dr. Robert Yolken […] Why? The jury is still out. For one, the study simply looked back at pet ownership among about 1,400 men and women. It does not prove that dogs cause schizophrenia risk to fall. […] “One [explanation] is that families with pet dogs differ from families with no pets — or with pet cats — in some way associated with differing rates of schizophrenia,” Yolken said. […] “It is also possible […] that some members of the dog microbiome — beneficial microorganisms that are resident in healthy dogs — are transmitted to an infant, and that these organisms provide some sort of protection against developing schizophrenia in later life,” he added.

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 December 24, 2019

Five Insights on Gratitude: Research explores relation between gratitude and health.

Every so often, psychologists attempt to condense the current state of knowledge in a given research area into a single review paper. This was the approach taken in a new article published in the Journal of Positive Psychology. Specifically, a team of psychologists led by Lilian Jans-Beken of Open University in Heerlen, The Netherlands, explored the connection between gratitude and human health. “The study of gratitude, perceived as an important source of human strength, has gained increasing attention over the past decades,” state Jans-Beken and her team. “With this updated review, we aimed to summarize the current research regarding state and trait gratitude associated with human health.” Analyzing over 50 studies across multiple domains of research, the scientists came to five key conclusions regarding the relationship between gratitude and health. 

Binge drinking linked to poorer mental health, quality of life: Study

Here’s a timely reminder for the festive season – Go easy on the alcohol! […] They found that although most people who engaged in binge drinking here do so infrequently, there was still moderate to strong association between binge drinking and mental health conditions like mood disorders. Those who engaged in binge drinking were also more likely to report a lower mental health-related quality of life compared to those who did not. A questionnaire covering various health aspects such as physical functioning, bodily pain, social functioning and mental health was used to score the respondents’ quality of life. Men who binge-drink were more likely to report worse overall quality of life compared to women who did so.

In India too: Mental disorder cases doubled in less than 3 decades

An estimated one in seven Indians suffered from mental disorders of varying severity in 2017 with depression and anxiety being the commonest, according to a study. The study, published in the Lancet Psychiatry, showed that there was a significant association between the prevalence of depression and suicide death rate at the state level, with this association slightly stronger in men than in women. The first comprehensive estimates of disease burden due to mental disorders and their trends in every state of India from 1990 by the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative show that the contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden has doubled between 1990 and 2017. […] The contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden in India in terms of the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) increased from 2.5 per cent in 1990 to 4.7 per cent in 2017.

Can apps make your kids smarter?

Smartphones, tablets and laptops are everywhere, and young children are fascinated by them. Now, new research suggests that parents might be able to harness that curiosity and use apps on the devices to boost early learning. The review found that apps could be particularly useful for teaching early math and language skills. “Screen time is here, and it’s here to stay. We should not just be paying attention to the amount of screen time, but instead to maximizing that screen time. The idea is to look for ways to leverage screen time in a positive way,” said study author Shayl Griffith, a postdoctoral associate in the department of psychology at Florida International University in Miami.

Kids’ ‘microbiome’ may play key role in asthma

Microbes that live in a child’s upper airway could be linked to severe asthma attacks, new research suggests. For parents, it’s an all-too familiar scene: A child’s seemingly harmless cough quickly escalates to wheezing, gasping and an urgent need for emergency treatment. Asthma is the leading chronic disease in kids and third-most common cause of hospitalization among those under 15, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Now, a new study found an association between asthma flare-ups in children and the makeup of the upper-airway microbiome, communities of microscopic organisms that include bacteria. “In the future, we wish to understand whether the upper-airway bacteria can play a causal role in the severity of asthma symptoms,” said study author Dr. Yanjiao Zhou. 

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 December 23, 2019

Healing Youth with Nature and Connection: An Interview with Peter Mayfield


Mind’s Best Friend: Hanging With Dogs In Childhood May Prevent Schizophrenia

Dogs tend to be ultra protective of their human counterparts, and according to a new study, it turns out they even have a protective effect on our brains! According to researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, spending time with dogs as a child lowers one’s chances of developing schizophrenia as an adult. If any cat owners out there are wondering if the same can be said for felines, unfortunately the research team say it is unclear if cats promote the same mental benefits as dogs. “Serious psychiatric disorders have been associated with alterations in the immune system linked to environmental exposures in early life, and since household pets are often among the first things with which children have close contact, it was logical for us to explore the possibilities of a connection between the two,” says lead author Dr. Robert Yolken in a release.

Loneliness in healthy young adults predicts inflammatory responses

The established link between loneliness and poor health outcomes may stem from aberrant inflammatory regulation. The present study tested whether loneliness predicted the inflammatory response to a standardised in vivo immune challenge. Using a within-subjects double blind placebo-controlled design, 40 healthy men (mean age = 25, SD = 5) received a Salmonella Typhi vaccination (0.025 mg; Typhim Vi, Sanofi Pasteur, UK) and placebo (saline) on two separate occasions. Loneliness was assessed using the R-UCLA loneliness scale. Regression analyses showed that those that reported feeling more lonely exhibited an elevated interleukin-6 response (β = 0.564, 95% confidence interval [0.003, 0.042], p < .05). This association withstood adjustment for potentially confounding variables, including age, sleep quality, socio-emotional factors, and health factors. The present findings are in line with evidence that loneliness may shift immune system responsivity, suggesting a potential biobehavioural pathway linking loneliness to impaired health.

Aging Healthily: Perspectives from the older adults on mindfulness and exercise

Both exercise and mindfulness practice have been shown to have a myriad of health benefits for older adults, but less is know about why many older adults don’t engage in these practices and how to motivate them to do so. In this blog post, the authors of a new qualitative study, published in BMC Geriatrics, discuss what they learned when they asked a group of older adults about the benefits of and barriers to exercising and practicing mindfulness. […] Two promising interventions that could benefit older adults cognitively, emotionally, and physically are exercise and mindfulness. Exercise helps prevent fallsdelays disability, enhances cognitivefunctioningimproves depression, and reverses metabolic diseases. Mindfulness reduces stressworry, and loneliness;decreases systemic inflammation; and improves mental healthsleep, awareness, self-efficacy, cognitive functioning, and psychological well-being

Can social anxiety lead you to misread facial cues?

New study how social anxiety can lead to misreading other people’s emotions. How do you know whether other people like you? If you’re good at reading other people’s feelings, you’ll make these judgments on the basis of some combination of verbal and nonverbal cues. If people say nice things to you, chances are that they feel positively toward you, especially if they accompany those words with a smile. If they turn away as you approach them, this could mean they would prefer not to be in your company, but it could also mean nothing at all, and that they have other things on their mind. Perhaps you’re in the middle of a pleasant conversation with person A, but when person B comes along, your chat with A ends abruptly, and you’re left feeling confused and hurt. […] To sum up, if you tend to be unsure about how you will be received by others, have an open mind toward gathering more evidence before you are convinced that people are rejecting you. Emotional cues from other people can help your relationships be that much more fulfilling once you let their faces do the talking.

Social anxiety and the interpretation of morphed facial expressions following exclusion and inclusion

Background and objectives: Negative interpretation biases are postulated to play etiological and maintaining roles in social anxiety (SA). However, empirical support for interpretation biases of facial expression in SA is inconsistent. Given the importance of signals of (dis)approval in SA, our objective was to examine whether SA is associated with enhanced sensitivity to such signals especially following exclusion. Methods: In Study 1, participants (N = 139) underwent an exclusion/inclusion manipulation and were then presented with video clips of smiles gradually changing into disgust expressions (smile-to-disgust). In Study 2 (N = 203), participants saw smile-to-disgust as well as disgust-to-smile clips following an exclusion/inclusion manipulation. Participants’ task in both studies was to detect the offset of the initial expression. Results: Results of Study 1 show that detection latency of smiles’ disappearance is negatively associated with SA severity. The results of Study 2 suggest that this association is stronger following exclusion, and specific to the smile-to-disgust as opposed to the disgust-to-smile, transitions. Limitations: Our studies did not examine whether the observed interpretation bias was specific to SA. Conclusions: Our findings support and refine cognitive theories of SA, suggesting that interpretation biases for facial information in SA may be especially pronounced following exclusion.

Happiness and grief change depending what language you’re speaking

A new study from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, has found some compelling evidence that emotional concepts are different for different language groups. Researchers studied which words in any given language were related semantically to other words in the same language, and then compared those groupings to each other. The groupings, they discovered, varied significantly. In one example, Persian uses the word-form ænduh to express both the concepts of grief and regret. Meanwhile in the Sirkhi dialect of Dargwa, a language spoken in the Russian republic of Dagestan, the word-form dard expresses the concept of grief, but also that of anxiety. “Persian speakers may therefore understand ‘grief’ as an emotion more similar to ‘regret,’ whereas Dargwa speakers may understand ‘grief’ as more similar to ‘anxiety,’” the researchers wrote in their paper, published in the journal Science this month. Perhaps unsurprisingly, languages from similar geographic regions were more likely to display connections between similar emotion words. Proximal societies have more opportunities for trade and other cross-cultural exchange, and more recent shared histories.

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 December 21-22, 2019

Scrambling Our Children’s Brains with Electricity
The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Dec 18, 2019

The newest psychiatric abuse of children—the Monarch electrical stimulator applied to the foreheads of kids labelled ADHD—is explained by electrical engineer Ken Castleman, PhD, who joins me and psychologist Michael Cornwall PhD. Now that the FDA has approved it, this new abuse will be unleashed not only on children unfortunate enough to be labelled ADHD but on anyone that prescribers think fit. Any child with a psychiatric diagnosis or a psychological problem will be fair game. We cannot stand by while a new wave of atrocities, in the form of electrical assaults, is unleash on millions of children. Someday we may look back to the good old days when the worst they did to our kids was drug them! Scrambling their brains with the electricity may be the ultimate atrocity. Please go to the Children’s Page to learn more about SPAC!

‘Harry Potter’ author J.K. Rowling roasted for opposing firing people for believing sex is biological

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling is catching backlash from the LGBTQ community after tweeting a defense of a researcher who lost her job for tweeting that men cannot change their biological sex. Rowling spoke out in defense of Maya Forstater, who was fired from her job at a thinktank after tweeting a rebuke of “smart people” who she claims to admire championing the concept of a person identifying with a gender that’s different from the one they were assigned at birth.

J.K. Rowling takes a stand, saying she believes men are not women

One of the long-held principles of the gay-rights movement has been that it’s wrong to fire someone just because they’re gay. Now, one of the principles of the LGBTQ movement is that it’s fine to fire someone if they disagree in the slightest with every claim of gender ideology. This shift from a “live and let live” to a “do what I say or else” movement is one reason I don’t identify with this activism any more. I loathe the idea of forcing people to say things they don’t believe, demonizing and ostracizing them for their dissent, and enshrining in law penalties for wrongthink. I am very happy to live alongside people whose faith makes them consider me a sinner. As long as they cannot touch a hair on my head or use the law to punish me for what I believe and how I live, I’m fine. But that pluralist worldview is anathema to the “social justice” movement, as it proves every single day.

The ticking screen time bomb

Parents, and the educators that teach their children, struggle to deal with students’ screen time. That struggle is hardly new — both have been griping about TV for decades. But the ubiquity of tablets and smartphones today, which are mercilessly engineered to addict users, is surely upping the challenge, and their effects could be seen in future school outcomes. The fruit of screen time may become visible after school starts, but like many other influences on outcomes, the roots start much earlier. Several studies have  linked excessive early screen exposure to later academic struggles, and groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recommendedrestrictions to parents. New research by Mai Han Trinh and colleagues, published in JAMA Pediatrics, suggests that parents typically allow young children screen time far beyond those guidelines. Further, they found patterns of screen time use that I worry could widen gaps in school outcomes. Trinh et al. looked at parent reports of screen time for thousands of children in New York State gathered at five points between the ages of one and three. They found nearly all the kids in this sample—just shy of 87 percent—exceeded the AAP’s recommendations. Median screen time for one-year-old children was half an hour, while the AAP recommends no screen time. For two-year-old children the median was two hours, twice what the AAP and WHO recommend at that age.

Here’s how talk therapy can boost longevity in people with anxiety

The benefits of therapy have been well known for years, but did you know that it can do more than just treat the mind? Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can boost longevity along with treating anxiety in patients. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a common form of psychotherapy, typically used to treat mental disorders. It consists of talk therapy, where the patient interacts with a mental health professional to discuss feelings, emotions, and behaviors. CBT aims for the patient and professional to work together and identify negative thought processes, working through them to change the patient’s thinking. […] While CBT has already been proven as an effective form of treating anxiety, this study has discovered an exciting new benefit, which can hopefully encourage more people with any form of an anxiety disorder to try CBT. Currently, the treatment is only used for about 45% of people suffering from mood and anxiety disorders. 

If you suffer from seasonal depression, limit your sugar intake

Researchers at the University of Kansaspublished a study in the Medical Hypotheses Journal in which they claim that eating foods that are too high in sugar could be partly responsible for the inflammatory and neurobiological processes linked to ‘winter-onset depression’. And it also doesn’t help that during the coldwinter months, all that most of us want to do is indulge in cakes, treats or boxes of chocolates. Another factor that has been called into question is the changes that affect our sleeping patterns which, when combined with of a lack of light and this higher-than-usual intake of sugar, could cause us to slip into an episode of depression. A lack of light has actually been said to affect and alter the circadian rhythm and the sleeping patterns of around 10% of the population, as Stephen Ilardi, co-author of the study, explained. […] ‘We’re learning when it comes to depression, people who optimize their diet should provide all the nutrients the brain needs and mostly avoid these potential toxins.’ According to the results of this study, to combat the toxic effects of seasonal depression, you should avoid consuming ultra-processed foods, foods that contain too much sugar and alcoholic drinks.

Holiday stress: UA psychiatrist says blues this time of year real, common

For many people, the holiday season is a time filled with happiness and celebrations with family and friends. But for some people, this time of year can also evoke feelings of loneliness, stress and anxiety. According to University of Arizona psychiatrist John Racy, the holiday blues are very real and more common than most people might think. “I think special occasions almost always arouse feelings, expectations and obligation, and the degree to which they arouse those feelings brings a certain amount of weight,” Racy said. “So, in my mind, I classify them from very heavy to very light.” […] “Christmas is a big gorilla in the room,” he said. “It’s like a huge magnifying glass on the human condition. (This time of year) exaggerates and enlarges everything. What’s positive is more clearly positive. And what’s negative is more vividly negative.”

Growing Research Connects Nutrition and Mental Health

A new article, published in European Neuropsychopharmacology, compiles mounting evidence linking the food we eat and our moods and mental health. The article explores the emerging field of nutritional psychiatry that is increasingly finding evidence of a strong association between a poor diet and mental health issues such as mood disorders and depression. While this field of research is still emerging, initial findings are promising and suggest that nutrition may be an essential part of any approach to preventative mental health. “The composition, structure and function of the brain are dependent on the availability of appropriate nutrients, including lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It is therefore logical that food intake and food quality would have an impact on brain function, which makes diet a modifiable variable to target mental health, mood and cognitive performance. In addition, endogenous gut hormones, neuropeptides, neurotransmitters, and the gut microbiota, are affected directly by the composition of the diet,” write the researchers, led by Roger Adan, a physician and researchers from the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.

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 December 20, 2019

Why your brain needs exercise

In the 1990s researchers announced a series of discoveries that would upend a bedrock tenet of neuroscience. For decades the mature brain was understood to be incapable of growing new neurons. Once an individual reached adulthood, the thinking went, the brain began losing neurons rather than gaining them. But evidence was building that the adult brain could, in fact, generate new neurons. In one particularly striking experiment with mice, scientists found that simply running on a wheel led to the birth of new neurons in the hippocampus, a brain structure that is associated with memory. Since then, other studies have established that exercise also has positive effects on the brains of humans, especially as we age, and that it may even help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions. But the research raised a key question: Why does exercise affect the brain at all?

The workout drug

Exercise is good for you. That’s hardly news: People who exercise tend to have longer, healthier lives. But until recently, researchers have tallied its benefits only in narrow slices: Exercise lowers your cholesterol and blood pressure; it keeps you from getting fat. Now it’s becoming clear that those known slices don’t add up to the full pie. “When people totaled up those effects, they only account for about half the benefit,” says Michael Joyner, an exercise physiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “So what’s contributing to the biomedical dark matter?” To solve that mystery, researchers are now digging deeper into the mechanisms that underlie the benefits of physical activity. They are finding that exercise is both powerful and wide-reaching, affecting not just muscles and the cardiovascular system, but almost every part of the body, from the immune system to the brain to the energy systems within individual cells. And as scientists understand more precisely which levers exercise pulls to improve our health, clinicians are on the verge of being able to change their practice. The goal is to think of exercise as a medicine — a therapy that they can prescribe in specific doses for specific needs.

Happiness in retirement can depend on how you spend your time

A new study led by Tao Guo, an assistant finance professor at William Paterson University, finds that how people allocate their time in retirement is a factor in their wellbeing. And the reality is that most retirees are spending way less time on what they desire as they get older, contributing to a decrease in overall happiness. […] Passive activities such as watching television and staying at home were reported to generate the lowest amount of happiness, while more active endeavors, like socializing, volunteering, walking or exercising, were associated with the highest level of happiness, among retirees of all ages. Yet the study found that as respondents aged, they spent more time watching television, staying home, and running errands. […] The study suggest that retirees of any age can benefit from being given simple resources, like a list of volunteer opportunities, tools that help them track their time use and health, and life-planning and retirement coaching. 

According to study, money doesn’t buy happiness—or spur generosity

In this season of giving, who is more likely to give and why? That was the question behind a recent study conducted by The Galant Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia. Researchers […] found that those who cited material or physical resources—money, investments, real estate, belongings, health, fitness, etc. – as their primary sources of abundance felt less abundant overall and reported donating their money and time less frequently. […] “The more people derive abundance from egocentric resources, the less often they share them, nearly across the board,” the researchers wrote in a summary of their findings. “Conversely, the more our abundance stems from non-egocentric resources, the more often we are generous with these resources.” […] “People who self-reported stronger connections to others and to their community were much more likely to give.”

Study finds group medical meetings help low-income patients with chronic pain, depression

A study by UMass Medical School integrative medicine expert Paula Gardiner, MD, MPH, finds that patients with chronic pain and depression who participated in medical group visits in which they learned mindfulness techniques were able to reduce their use of pain medications and made fewer emergency room visits. “We have to help patients find strategies to reduce their pain other than just taking opioids,” said Dr. Gardiner, associate professor of family medicine & community health. “There is more and more evidence for the effectiveness of nonmedical treatments, including mindfulness and stress reduction techniques.”

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 December 19, 2019

Internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) protects against cellular aging 

Psychiatric disorders have been linked to increased risks of somatic illnesses and even premature death1, although the underlying mechanisms are not clear. Recent studies raise the possibility that accelerated cellular aging and deficiencies in cellular protection contribute to this association2,3. An often-used indicator of accelerated cellular aging is telomere length measured in blood leukocytes. Telomeres protect the chromosomes from damage and shorten with age4 […] In this longitudinal study, indices of cellular aging and oxidative stress protection were assessed twice before, and immediately after a psychological treatment (CBT) for a common psychiatric disorder (SAD). A large within-group treatment effect (Cohen’s d = 1.46) was observed on the primary social anxiety measure, indicating substantial symptom improvement […] We found that putatively enhanced cellular protection, as indexed by increases in activity of the telomere-preserving enzyme telomerase and antioxidant enzyme GPx, paralleled social anxiety reduction. Also, pretreatment telomerase activity was predictive of symptom improvement. Although enzyme activities did not increase in all patients, those who showed the greatest clinical improvement were more likely to show increases in telomerase or GPx activity over the course of treatment. […] Apart from further validating internet-delivered CBT as an effective psychological treatment for SAD, our findings suggest improvement in indices of cellular health in tandem with mental health. 

Air pollution linked to increased risk of depression and suicide

Exposure to air pollution is linked to a greater risk of depression and suicide, the first overview of studies on the subject has found. […] They found that someone living for at least six months in an area with twice the World Health Organization’s recommended limit for fine particulate matter, PM2.5, would have roughly a 10 per cent increased risk of developing depression as a person living in an area that met the limit. […] For suicide, an association was found with short-term exposure to a slightly larger type of pollution, PM10. Each 10μg/m3 increase in PM10 a person was exposed to during a three-day period was linked to a 2 per cent greater risk of suicide. […] The exact mechanisms for how pollution could be affecting our brains aren’t certain, but there is evidence that tiny particulate matter can enter our blood and reach the brain. Air pollution is also known to affect inflammation, which is thought to be implicated in depression, and there is some evidence exposure could affect stress hormones, too.

Studies have shown that spirituality and religion helps children’s mental health

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently performed a study which showed kids and teens who are raised in a spiritual or religious home, fare better with both physical and mental health, than those who are not, when they are older. The study was conducted on 5,000 people, and the aim of it was to see if the frequency, at which children were exposed to religion or spirituality, had an impact on their overall wellbeing. The children of the people in the study, were as young as 8-years-old and as old as 14-years-old, and it followed them into their 20’s. According to the study, introducing children to religion or spirituality, when they’re young, did have a positive impact on them as young adults. Kids who grew up in homes, where their parents attended some sort of service once a week or practiced some sort of at-home prayer or meditation, when surveyed, showed to be 18% happier in their 20’s than the children and teens, who did not attend service or have prayer/meditation.

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 December 18, 2019

Better daytime lighting improves sleep quality, reduces depression in Alzheimer’s patients

Guerman Ermolenko has seen plenty of restless dementia patients. They wander the hallways of care facilities at night and wake other residents, only to sleep in late and become agitated the following evening at sundown. “This particular patient, it’s really hard to reason with them,” says Ermolenko […] Some of Ermolenko’s patients took part in a recent clinical trial […]

In it, researchers placed bright LEDs throughout assisted-living and long-term care facilities in New York and Vermont. “Some clients in assisted living and dementia units, seeing all the bright lights, say they feel like they’re on a cruise,” Ermolenko says. The study, published Friday in the Journal of Clinical Sleep, found that exposure to the [bright] light throughout the day increased sleep quality, decreased depression and lowered agitation among the seniors. “From observations from the nurses and the caregivers, [patients] were more social,” says Figueiro. “They were eating better. They were behaving better. It was really a very amazing result.”

Ian’s thoughts: A potentially important drug-free method for treating behavioral disturbances in Alzheimer patients. Everyone else, take note too! 

What is the best diet for mental health?

In this article, we review some of the evidence suggesting that a healthful diet can improve mental health and help treat or prevent certain conditions. We also explore how food affects our mood. Nutritional psychiatry, which some refer to as psychonutrition, is a new field of study that focuses on the effect of diet on mental health. Most studies have focused on the effects of the standard Western diet and the Mediterranean diet. An article in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society reviewed the existing body of research on diet, nutrition, and mental health. The research suggests that the more closely a person follows a Western diet, with its highly processed foods, the more at risk they are for depression and anxiety. People who follow a Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, seem to be less likely to have mental health conditions.

Study finds religion losing influence in American Society

American views about religion are changing, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center survey. Researchers found a “large majority of Americans feel that religion is losing influence in public life.” The survey stated that while some say this is a good thing, many more view it as a negative development, reflecting the broad tendency of Americans to see religion as a positive force in society.  Simultaneously, “U.S. adults are resoundingly clear in their belief that religious institutions should stay out of politics. Nearly two-thirds of Americans in the new survey say churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters, while 36% say they should express their views on day-to-day social and political questions,” the survey added. The decline in religion’s influence on American society was met with sorrow by about four in 10 respondents including a majority of Christians, while fewer than two-in-ten say they think religion is losing influence in American life and that this is a good thing.

Doing yoga just once or twice a week can boost brain performance

Most people know that yoga can ease stress and even help relieve back pain from sitting at a desk all day, but a new study suggests it can also improve your brain health — and practicing just once or twice a week can be enough to reap the benefits.  Yoga benefits the brain in ways that are similar to aerobic exercise, according to the study published in the journal Brain Plasticity, which has also been shown to improve cognitive performance, attention and memory. For the study, researchers reviewed 11 studies that looked at the effects of practicing yoga on the brain. They found that yoga appears to have a positive effect on key areas areas “responsible for memory and information processing, as well as emotional regulation,” Neha Gothe, study author and director of the exercise psychology lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Comparative effects of 18 antipsychotics on metabolic function in patients with schizophrenia

Marked differences exist between antipsychotics in terms of metabolic side-effects, with olanzapine and clozapine exhibiting the worst profiles and aripiprazole, brexpiprazole, cariprazine, lurasidone, and ziprasidone the most benign profiles. Increased baseline weight, male sex, and non-white ethnicity are predictors of susceptibility to antipsychotic-induced metabolic change, and improvements in psychopathology are associated with metabolic disturbance. Treatment guidelines should be updated to reflect our findings. However, the choice of antipsychotic should be made on an individual basis, considering the clinical circumstances and preferences of patients, carers, and clinicians.

Ian’s thoughts: these results match Dr. Breggin’s Brain Disabling Principle III, that the so-called “therapeutic effect” of psychiatric drugs is merely a convenient interpretation of drug-induced brain impairment (and metabolic disturbance can be caused by disruption of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis). So for example, if you gave a tranquilizer to a distressed person and it knocked them out, the “therapeutic” interpretation would be that the pill has improved the subject and restored normal brain function, but in reality it caused a gross brain malfunction that happens to merely hide the prior distress. In contrast, giving insulin to a diabetic actually resorts normal conditions. 

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 December 17, 2019

Antidepressant given to pregnant mice alter offspring into adulthood

  • Researchers exposed one group of pregnant mice to fluoxetine [Prozac], a common antidepressant
  • Newborn mice had abnormal brain activity in the sensory areas when their front paws were wiggled
  • This unusual activity continued into adulthood, suggesting that antidepressants may change the way they interpret information gathered from touch for life

Taking antidepressants during pregnancy could permanently change the way children’s brains process sensory information, a new study suggests. Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri, exposed mice to a common antidepressant in the womb and for the first two weeks after birth. Findings showed that the exposed mice had abnormal brain activity when the scientists wiggled their front paws. What’s more, this lasted into adulthood, which the team says suggests that exposure to the drug can cause long-lasting changes in the mouse brain. 

After fatal school shootings, antidepressant use spikes among student survivors

The children who experience a school shooting but live to see their parents and friends again are often called survivors. But by at least one measure of mental health, they too are among a gunman’s victims, new research finds. In the two years after a fatal school shooting, the rate at which antidepressants were prescribed to children and teens rose by 21% within a tight ring around the affected school. The increase in antidepressants prescribed to kids grew more — to nearly 25% — three years after a school shooting, suggesting that survivors’ depression lingers long after the incident has begun to fade from a community’s memory. 

Australia: New call to action on minimizing chemical restraint

A funded complete-cycle-of-care approach would help address the overuse on antipsychotics in aged care, writes Natalie Soulsby. The interim report of the aged care royal commission provides a damning indictment into what is happening in both the residential and home aged care sectors. Of note was the whole section dedicated to restrictive practices and the role medications play. One of their findings was that the use of psychotropic medications was not clearly justified in 90 per cent of cases they were prescribed.

Skin exposure to ultraviolet (UVB) light modulates the human intestinal microbiome

The recent worldwide rise in idiopathic immune and inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) has been linked to Western society-based changes in lifestyle and environment. These include decreased exposure to sunlight/UVB light and subsequent impairment in the production of vitamin D, as well as dysbiotic changes in the makeup of the gut microbiome. Despite their association, it is unclear if there are any direct links between UVB light and the gut microbiome. […] This is the first study to show that humans with low 25(OH)D serum levels display overt changes in their intestinal microbiome in response to NB-UVB skin exposure and increases in 25(OH)D levels, suggesting the existence of a novel skin-gut axis that could be used to promote intestinal homeostasis and health.

Patience proven to improve physical, mental health

Patience is a virtue, according to a well-known adage, but perhaps less well known is that patience can improve your mental and physical health as well as help you be a better neighbor and achieve your goals. That’s according to an article recently published in Greater Good Magazine, and many experts agree. “I agree that patience is a virtue that pays dividends,” Dr. Lois Mueller, a psychologist from New Port Richey, Florida, tells Newsmax. “I’m a type A personality and found myself becoming impatient for the article to end! But that being said, patience does improve your confidence, which is tragically lacking in the general population today. “Boredom is rampant because young adults and children expect things to happen at warp speed all the time. They speak too fast, like they are in a drag race. They have a hard time sticking to a task, rushing through everything without taking the time to contemplate themselves, let alone others.”

Encouraging kids to talk to themselves (self-talk) could improve their outcomes

 It’s widely accepted that teachers and parents should praise the effort kids make — rather than praise their innate ability — if they want their students and children to be successful. Similarly, a new study suggests that encouraging children to silently repeat statements to themselves that emphasize effort over ability could bring greater success. Mantras like “I will do my very best” during a math exam, for example,can actually improve test scores for some kids. “Our study found that the math performance of children with low self-confidence benefits when they tell themselves that they will make an effort,” said Eddie Brummelman, an assistant professor of child development at the University of Amsterdam and co-author of the study that published Tuesday in the journal Child Development.

Scientists develop new method that predicts vulnerability to stress

Stress is part of life for everyone, but how we respond to it seems to vary from person to person. For some, the effects of a stressful situation can be long-lasting and lead to anxiety, depression, and other health problems; others are more resilient to stressful life events. In a new study in mice, Rockefeller scientists have identified a set of biological factors that seem to determine in which end of this spectrum one may land. They also provide preliminary evidence that a naturally occurring substance called acetyl-L-carnitine (LAC) may help make the brain become more resilient to stress. “If we find similar factors in humans, that could help us more accurately identify which individuals are more likely to develop major depression,” says Bruce McEwen, Rockefeller’s Alfred E. Mirsky Professor. “Treatment with LAC or other agents may help alleviate some types of depression or even prevent it.” […] The findings, published in Biological Psychiatry, encourage more research into the neurobiology of LAC by suggesting it has the potential to treat and even prevent depression-like behavior by increasing stress resilience. They also suggest that other biological pathways, such as those related to the immune system, should be considered when developing treatments for depression.

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 December 16, 2019

Now Mark Zuckerberg is also pushing you to want a brain implant

  • Zuckerberg said on Thursday said that he’s thinking more about brain-controlling wearable and implantable technology.
  • “The goal is to eventually make it so that you can think something and control something in virtual or augmented reality,” he said.

Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday that he wants to work on brain-controlling wearable and implantable technology, and Facebook’s recent acquisition of CTRL-labs was a step in that direction. “The goal is to eventually make it so that you can think something and control something in virtual or augmented reality,” said Zuckerberg […] “That kind of detailed real-time information has never been possible from surface readings,” DeRisi said. “You actually have to get under the skull and touch neurons.” Zuckerberg said that people could eventually use devices like the CTRL-labs wristband to control things with their thoughts, assuming they have motor neurons. But those with physical limitations may need an implanted device to do the same, he said. “I have enough neural capacity in my motor neurons to probably control another extra hand, it’s just a matter of training that and then they can pick up those signals off of the wrist,” Zuckerberg said. “But if your ability to translate things that are going on in your brain into motor activity is limited then you need something implanted.”

Be sure to see Dr. Breggin and Truthstream Media’s critical analysis of Elon Musk’s vision of a future where we are all wired into a network via brain implants. With Zuckerberg now also promoting brain implants, it’s obvious the tech elite have a neuro-Orwellian vision of social domination. 

Fish oil as effective as ADHD drugs but only for kids with Omega-3 deficiency

Some studies have shown that omega-3 fish oil may help with ADHD symptoms. […] In our study, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, we examined 92 children, aged six to 18, diagnosed with ADHD. Half were randomly assigned to a group taking omega-3, EPA. The other half (the control group) were given a placebo. The trial lasted 12 weeks. […] We found that children who were deficient in omega-3, measured in the blood, became more attentive and vigilant at the end of the 12 weeks when taking EPA. The difference was statistically significant, that is, unlikely to be the result of chance. […] Our study is the first to use the concept of personalized medicine (also known as “precision medicine”) applied to nutritional studies. 

Flax-seed oil is another and vegetarian source of Omega-3 fats. 

Addicted to video games

In May, the World Health Organization officially added a new disorder to the section on substance use and addictive behaviors in the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases: “gaming disorder,” which it defines as excessive and irrepressible preoccupation with video games, resulting in significant personal, social, academic, or occupational impairment for at least 12 months. The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association’s clinical bible, recognizes “internet gaming disorder” — more or less the same thing — as a condition warranting more research. […] A typical gamer in the United States spends 12 hours playing each week; 34 million Americans play an average of 22 hours per week. In 2018, people around the world spent a collective nine billion hours watching other people play video games on the streaming service Twitch — three billion more hours than the year before. 

Tis the season: Dealing with holiday depression

Steps to ward off depression should be employed year-round, but especially during the holiday season. Engaging in regular phone and email contact, as well as routine face-to-face visits, can help the elderly feel cared for, thought about and loved, rather than abandoned or forgotten. Encourage older family members to socialize with friends and participate in community events. Do all you can to make them feel “special.” Encourage your beloved seniors to express their feelings about any sadness or despair. Let them know it’s okay to cry. Family members should learn tactics to distract the senior and to divert discussion away from unpleasant topics of conversation. With many seniors, it is not just politics and religion that should be avoided, but other trigger topics.

Stressed this holiday season? A ‘Safety Signal’ may help

  • A team from Yale University and Weill Cornell Medicine say that using a “safety signal” can help people ease their stress levels.
  • Researchers learned that a safety signal alleviated anxiety by activating a specific brain network.
  • They found an increase in activity in specific portion of the brain called the hippocampus that supports emotional memory.

Turns out that the advice “think happy thoughts” may be an effective way to diffuse your anxiety, according to new research. A team from Yale University and Weill Cornell Medicine found that using a “safety signal” can help people who otherwise wouldn’t respond well to anxiety treatments to ease their stress levels. When researchers tested the use of a symbol or sound in humans and mice, both had anxiety reduction. In fact, the safety signal alleviated anxiety by activating a specific brain network. Their report recently appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For as many as 1 in 3 people, non-dangerous situations can trigger fear and panic. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), including gradually exposing the person to the perceived threat, is used along with or without antidepressants to treat anxiety. But the treatments don’t work for all people.

NHS ‘over-diagnosing’ transgender children, psychologists warn

Six psychologists who resigned from England’s flagship National Health Service (NHS) child transgender clinic have raised concerns over its treatment of children with the mental disorder gender dysphoria, saying that they felt pressured to ignore psychological treatment and begin hormone treatment for minors. Sky News reports that 35 psychologists have resigned in three years from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) that deals with gender dysphoria. The service had treated 770 children a decade ago, compared to 2,590 last year. There are another 3,000 on the waiting list. Most of those treated are girls (74 per cent) who believe they are boys. Some are as young as three-years-old when their parents take them to the Tavistock. In the United Kingdom, cross-hormone therapy — where girls are given testosterone and boys are given oestrogen — is not normally given until 16 and gender reassignment surgery is illegal under the age of 18.

Some rest homes are rejecting anti-psychotics in favour of person-centred care

Alarming statistics suggest elderly New Zealanders suffering with dementia are over-prescribed anti-psychotic medication to subdue them. But there are alternatives to the drugs, as Tony Wall and Hannah Martin report. At the CARE Village in Ngongotaha, residents wander along paths with names like “Camellia Way”, enjoying breathtaking views of Lake Rotorua. There is no separate dementia unit – those with the brain disease mingle with residents who still have all their faculties. […] A Stuff investigation into the use of anti-psychotics by the elderly has found that use of the drugs has climbed as the population has aged. Even though they can double the risk of death in dementia patients, they are often used to control “aggressive” residents in care homes. Over the past decade there has been a move towards a more person-centred approach, but rest-home staff and families spoken to by Stuff say anti-psychotics remain ubiquitous.

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 December 14-15, 2019

Peter Breggin and Michael Cornwall – Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children


This week on MIA Radio, we interview Drs. Peter Breggin and Michael Cornwall about their new initiative, Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children (SPAC!). […] Dr. Breggin continues to criticize psychiatric drugs and “electroconvulsive therapy,” and promotes more caring, empathic and effective therapies. To that end, with his wife Ginger, he founded the Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Education and Living. […] Michael Cornwall, PhD has done therapy with children, teens and families since 1980 as well as specializing in therapy with people of all ages experiencing extreme states. He completed doctoral research on medication-free treatment of extreme states and is the editor of a two-volume special edition of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology on extreme states.

Taking sex differences in personality seriously

New approaches are shedding light on the magnitude of sex differences in personality and the results are so strong and pervasive that they can no longer be ignored. […] their data suggests that the probability that a randomly picked individual will be correctly classified as male or female based on knowledge of their global personality profile is 85% […] By applying a multivariate analysis of the whole brain, researchers are now able to classify whether a brain is male or female with 77%-93% accuracy (see herehereherehere, and here). In fact, some recent studies using the most sophisticated techniques have consistently found greater than 90% accuracy rates looking at whole brain data (see herehere, and here). While this level of prediction is definitely not perfect– and by no means do those findings justify individual stereotyping or discrimination– that’s really high accuracy as far science goes [7].

New study suggesting link between screen time and ADHD

Kids are spending more and more time on screen, and new research shows lots of screen time could be linked to higher risk for ADHD. The study was conducted by the University of Alberta on preschool-aged kids. The study found that by age five, kids looking at screens two or more hours a day were over seven times more likely to meet the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis than with kids who spent 30 minutes a day or less looking at screens. […] “ADHD presents itself differently among genders and ages. Boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed than girls but that doesn’t mean that girls aren’t susceptible,” said Roberts. “In order for there to be a diagnosis for ADHD, there must be persistent problems in more than one area.”

Doctors warn against misusing psycho-stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin

Psycho-stimulants are used to treat conditions like ADHD and ADD. UMMC School of Medicine professor Dustin Sarver says these prescription drugs are sometimes misused by people who don’t need it. “The rate of which misuse and prescription uses changing is actually more in the adults than it is in children and adolescents,” he says. The need to stay alert and focused will push people to use drugs like Adderall and Ritilan. “Cognitive enhancement think that if I take it, I’m going to be alert, have better memory or I’m going to have a better attention span. It’s not as much ‘I wanna lose weight, or I wanna have for fun’. That does happen. But a vast majority that say they want to use it to address some sort of cognitive limitations,” he says.

Problem drinkers have higher ‘benzo’ use, study shows

Problem drinkers are more likely than teetotalers and moderate drinkers to take benzodiazepines, a class of sedatives that are among the most commonly prescribed drugs – and the most abused. When taken by heavier drinkers, benzodiazepines may heighten the risk for overdoses and accidents as well as exacerbate psychiatric conditions. […] researchers found that primary care patients with “unhealthy alcohol use” had a 15 percent higher likelihood of using benzodiazepines than moderate drinkers and nondrinkers […] In the study, which appears in the American Journal of Managed Care on Dec. 13, 2019, researchers reviewed the health records of more than two million primary care patients, who were Kaiser Permanente enrollees […] the authors also found that when problem drinkers were prescribed benzodiazepines, their average dose was 40 percent lower and the duration of use was 16 percent shorter than moderate drinkers and abstainers […] Numerous studies have already demonstrated that long-term benzodiazepine use has been linked to an increased risk for dementia. “It’s possible that unhealthy alcohol use may amplify this dementia risk,” […] Alcohol was a factor in one-in-four benzodiazepine-related visits and one-in-five benzodiazepine-related deaths in U.S. emergency departments, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More teens are overdosing on benzos for anxiety

The number of teens taking and overdosing from benzodiazepines, commonly prescribed anxiety medications, has risen dramatically over the past decade, according to a new study. The researchers found a 54% increase in cases involving children ages 12 to 18 that were reported to US Poison Control Centers from 2000 to 2015 […] the rate for adolescents rose from 17.7 exposures per 100,000 children in 2000 to 27.3 exposures per 100,000 children in 2015. The study also shows a rise in intentional abuse, with nearly half of all reported exposures in 2015 documented as intentional abuse, misuse, or attempted suicide. […] “Our study group found that the increasing rate of reported benzodiazepine exposures appear to reflect the increasing rate of benzodiazepine prescriptions that have been reported across the United States over the past decade,” she says. “Medical providers should be aware of the increased prevalence of benzodiazepine exposures to help limit unnecessary prescribing. Parents and caregivers must be counseled on the proper use, storage, and disposal of these high-risk medications.”

Judge removed in case as Texas father fights to prevent sterilization of 7-year-old son

The Texas judge who has presided over the case of James Younger, the seven-year-old boy caught in a transgender transition custody fight, has been removed from the case. Little James is in the middle of a legal battle between his parents that made national headlines after it was revealed the boy’s mother intended to publicly gender-transition him into a girl against the father’s wishes. Even the seven-year-old boy has reportedly been conflicted about the transition, too. […] Rep. Matt Krause, who makes his Christian faith prominent in his Twitter bio, represents HD 93 in the Texas Legislature. He writes on Twitter: “Absent a special session between now & the 87th Session, I will introduce legislation that prohibits the use of puberty blockers in these situations for children under 18. We missed our opportunity to do so in the 86th Session. We won’t miss the next one.”

I started getting outside once a week, and it helped ease my seasonal depression

For as long as I can remember, my moods have changed with the seasons. I grew up in Michigan, where Winter feels like it’s eight months long, and the lack of sunshine can really take a toll. The Winter before my parents moved our family to Florida, I vividly remember feeling like a whole month had passed since we had last seen the sun. When I was younger, I never really understood why I felt so sad during those colder months or why the gloomy skies practically ordered me to stay in bed. But in adulthood, when I learned about seasonal affective disorder (SAD), everything started to click. […] In forest bathing, you’re encouraged to take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the world around you, without technological barriers or any kind of agenda. You can even practice gratitude to further personalize the experience. Some people find a dense forest with lots of greenery the most relaxing, but I love finding a spot with water. The sounds of a waterfall or a trickling stream are extremely calming to me.

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 December 13, 2019

More than half of people suffer withdrawal effects when trying to come off antidepressants

New research suggests it is common to experience withdrawal effects when coming off antidepressants, especially when the medication has been used for a long time. The findings have been published in the journal Addictive Behaviors. “Human distress has become increasingly pathologised and medicalised, due primarily to the influence of the drug companies, and the inability of psychiatrists and general practitioners to maintain a proper boundary between themselves and the industry,” said study author John Read, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of East London. “This frightens me because the dominant bio-genetic paradigm and label-and-drug approach to treatment masks the main causes of human suffering, such as poverty, abuse, war trauma, loneliness etc.” […] The severity of withdrawal effects was strongly associated with treatment duration. Anxiety or panic was the most commonly reported withdrawal effect, followed by irritability and dizziness. Only six participants — or 0.7% of the sample — said they recalled their doctors telling them anything about withdrawal from or addiction to antidepressants.

Too much screen time associated with behavioural problems in preschoolers

A new Canadian study of more than 2,400 families suggests that among preschoolers, spending two hours or more of screen time per day is linked to clinically significant behavioural problems. Compared with children who had less than 30 minutes per day of screen time, children who were exposed to more than two hours of screen time per day were five times more likely to exhibit clinically significant “externalizing” behavioural problems such as inattention, acting out, hyperactivity and being oppositional; and over seven times more likely to meet the criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. “We found that screen time had a significant impact at five years of age,” said Piush Mandhane […] The researchers also identified factors that provided protection from the negative effects of screen time. Good quality sleep had a small impact, and participation in organized sports was found to have a highly significant protective effect. […] “Our data suggest that between zero and 30 minutes a day is the optimal amount of screen time,” said Mandhane. “The preschool period is an ideal time for education on healthy relationships with screens, and we believe our data show that you can’t start too early.”

Akili’s video game therapy improves cognitive ability in patients with major depression

A video game-like digital therapy may be key to helping reduce cognitive impairments in adults living with major depressive disorder (MDD). Results out of a new study [clinical trial NCT03310281] conducted by Akili interactive found that patients using the company’s AKL-T03 significantly improved their sustained attention compared to their peers in the control group. In the study, which was presented at the Meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology yesterday, researchers also found a “strong correlation” with improved processing speed. The yet-to-be published research also found that the tool showed improvements in cognition, depression and quality of life; however, this wasn’t a significant difference from the control group. 

NHS ‘over-diagnosing’ children having transgender treatment, former staff warn

The NHS is “over-diagnosing” children having medical treatment for gender dysphoria, with psychologists unable to properly assess patients over fears they will be branded “transphobic”, former staff have warned. Thirty five psychologists have resigned from the children’s gender-identity service in London in the last three years, Sky News research suggests. Sixof those have now raised concerns about hormone treatment being given to children with gender dysphoria, a condition where a person experiences distress due to a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity. A psychologist, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Our fears are that young people are being over-diagnosed and then over-medicalised. “We are extremely concerned about the consequences for young people… For those of us who previously worked in the service, we fear that we have had front row seats to a medical scandal.”

Pervasive industry influence in healthcare sector harms patients

A new article in the British Medical Journal describes the endemic problem of industry influence in healthcare. The authors argue that industry influence compromises the integrity of unbiased evidence, and suggest ways to achieve independence from such control. Led by Ray Moynihan of Bond University, Australia, the article is written by clinicians, researchers, and citizen advocates from across the globe. They write that the current evidence-building process in the healthcare industry is riddled with conflicts of interest, which results in overdiagnosis, overtreatment, and overtesting of the patients. […] Over 60% of medical research in America is industry-funded, and evidence suggests that such funding creates a sponsorship bias because results usually benefit the sponsors. As the New York Times report on bipolar disorder in children had shown, Harvard psychiatrist Joseph Biederman had conveyed to Johnson and Johnson that “planned studies of its medicines in children would yield results benefiting the company.”

Brief cognitive behavioral therapy may reduce suicidal behaviors in US Army soldiers

Using brief cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to reduce suicide attempts among at-risk soldiers would likely save the Department of Defense money in addition to being more effective than the current treatments, according to new research published in JAMA Psychiatry. “We thought it was important to undertake this study because cost-effectiveness analysis provides decision-makers with vital information when weighing whether to implement a new healthcare intervention,” explained study author Sam L. Bernecker, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School. “The specialized treatment that we investigated is one of the few interventions for servicemembers with suicidal thoughts and behaviors that has been rigorously tested in a randomized controlled trial.” A previous study of 152 Army soldiers who had either attempted suicide or had been determined to be at high risk for suicide found that brief CBT treatment significantly reduced soldiers’ likelihood of future suicide attempts.

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 December 12, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Dec 11, 2019

Psychiatric drugs can ruin our quality of life, causing brain damage, cognitive deficits, apathy and withdrawal reactions. Medication spellbinding then blinds us to the seemingly infinite harms caused by these potent neurotoxins.  Dr. Breggin draws on many decades of clinical and forensic experience, his research, and his many scientific articles and books, including Toxic Psychiatry, Medication Madness and Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal.  He reviews  his most important observations and conclusions about the harmful effects of psychiatric drugs and how to withdraw from them. 

This one-hour talk is Dr. Breggin’s most comprehensive and up-to-date overview of what everyone should know about psychiatric drugs before taking them or trying to withdraw from them.   It is intended for the general public, including people taking or contemplating taking psychiatric drugs.  But it also presents information and scientific principles largely unknown to mental health professionals.  If they knew the truth, many therapists and other health professionals would think twice before referring their clients for psychiatric medications. 

Screen-time found to be the leading risk factor for ADHD symptoms 

We provide results from one of the largest birth cohort studies to examine screen-time exposure and behavioral morbidity in pre-school children. Screen-time above the two-hours threshold at 5-years was associated with an increased risk of clinically relevant externalizing morbidity and specifically inattention problems. The association between screen-time and behavioral morbidity was greater than any other risk factor including sleep, parenting stress, and socio-economic factors. Our findings indicate that pre-school may be a critical period for supporting parents and families on education about limiting screen-time and supporting physical activity.

Germany: Depression in women, youth above EU average

A new study found that Germany had the second-highest proportion of people who exhibited depressive symptoms. The authors said more efforts needed to be taken to address prevention and care for younger people. Nearly one out of every 10 people in Germany exhibited depressive symptoms, according to a Robert Koch Institute study published on Wednesday. The study found that 9.2% of respondents showed signs of depressive symptoms, which researchers used as an indicator of depression. That figure was higher than the EU average of 6.6%. “The results for Germany indicate a particularly high prevalence of depressive symptoms,” the study said.

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 December 11, 2019

MSU study shows promising results for online program for people with depression

A company in Seattle asked Montana State University to test an online program designed to help people cope with depression in rural communities. “I’ll hear a story that says you know this is the only thing I have available. and that’s a common story among a lot of people who live in remote, rural areas of the state,” said Assistant Professor of Community Health, Mark Schure. The program, called Waypoint Thrive , launched in 2017. Here’s how it works: participants take a series of questionnaires about their moods. The program then uses an algorithm that presents a specific video that matches the person’s responses to the questionnaire. […] Because Waypoint’s Thrive program is delivered via the internet, it can reach individuals in nearly all areas of the state, including rural communities where it may be difficult to access mental health services. Another benefit is that costs of internet-based care are considerably less than traditional face-to-face care, Schure said. Cognitive behavior therapy – a form of psychotherapy that aims to boost happiness by focusing on behaviors and thoughts – has been shown to effectively reduce depression symptoms, which can increase risk for suicidal thinking and suicidal behaviors, Schure said.

Depression on birth control: Everything you need to know

Some people who use hormonal birth control, such as the pill, the patch, or hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), report experiencing depression as a side effect. Research on the topic has mixed results, so the precise link between depressive symptoms and birth control remains unclear. A 2016 analysis suggested a link between the use of hormonal birth control and later antidepressants use. However, other studies contradict or undermine these findings. In this article, learn more about the link between depression and birth control, as well as what to do about some possible side effects that can be dangerous. The analysis appearing in 2016 provides some of the strongest evidence of birth control linking with depression. The study included data on more than 1 million females resident in Denmark. Those who used hormonal birth control, especially as teenagers, were more likely to take antidepressants later. Major depressive disorder with peripartum onset, which doctors previously called postpartum depression (PPD), can occur during pregnancy or after childbirth. A 2018 retrospective study that gathered data from patient databases suggests a potential link between certain types of birth control and this form of depression occurring after delivery.

Have a purpose, have a healthier life

Do you feel like you know why you’re here? The answer to that question could determine how you feel day-to-day. If you’ve found meaning in your life, you’re more likely to be both physically and mentally healthy, a new study reports. On the other hand, people restlessly searching for meaning in their life are more likely to have worse mental well-being, with their struggle to find purpose negatively affecting their mood, social relationships, psychological health, and ability to think and reason. “We found presence of meaning was associated with better physical functioning and better mental functioning,” said senior study author Dr. Dilip Jeste. […] “Many think about the meaning and purpose in life from a philosophical perspective, but meaning in life is associated with better health, wellness and perhaps longevity,” Jeste continued. “Those with meaning in life are happier and healthier than those without it.”

Have You Found Meaning in Life? Answer Determines Health and Well-being

Over the last three decades, meaning in life has emerged as an important question in medical research, especially in the context of an aging population. A recent study by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that the presence of and search for meaning in life are important for health and well-being, though the relationships differ in adults younger and older than age 60. “Many think about the meaning and purpose in life from a philosophical perspective, but meaning in life is associated with better health, wellness and perhaps longevity,” said senior author Dilip V. Jeste, MD, senior associate dean for the Center of Healthy Aging and Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Those with meaning in life are happier and healthier than those without it.”

Researchers find links between anxiety and social media

A study conducted by the Texas State Psychology and Communication Studies departments found several links between anxiety disorders and social media. Researchers observed the relationship between social media behaviors and mental health in the study, “Upward social comparisons and posting under the influence: Investigating social media behaviors of U.S. adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” The research was not conducted to determine if social media causes anxiety but to discover if there are different social media habits between users with anxiety and those without. […] “What we found is those with anxiety disorders were more likely to spend time making upward social comparisons,” Howard said. “What that means is they are focused on people and posts of others whom they believe are better off than they are. For many, this can be a problem because it can exacerbate anxiety symptoms and lower self-esteem.” Another important find made by the team was a correlation between alcohol, social media and anxiety. Individuals with anxiety were found more likely to post on social media while under the influence of alcohol. “Anxiety disorders and alcohol use are often comorbid, meaning they occur at the same time,” Howard said. “If social media increases anxiety symptoms, alcohol is often used as a maladaptive stress reliever.”

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 December 10, 2019

Treat the gut, treat depression: medicine’s next big thing?

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia conducted a study that demonstrates the biological interaction between brain and gut, starting in animals. […]  “We were able to show that gut bacteria from stress-vulnerable rats, if you introduce that into a rat that had never been exposed to stress, that rat would now have some of the depressive characteristics of the rat that was stress vulnerable.” […] Scientists say stress changes the gut microbiome and increases inflammation in the brain. There’s a growing body of evidence that brain inflammation is associated with depression. So, what do the findings mean for humans? Researchers believe future studies will show that altering gut bacteria, possibly with probiotics, might pave the way for treating psychiatric disorders, including depression. Research, from bench to bedside that could someday make a big difference in mental health. Probiotics are live bacteria that help restore the balance of microbes in the gut and can be taken in a supplement form. Scientists nationwide have widely studied the impact of probiotics on digestive diseases like Crohn’s, but the Philadelphia team is among a few in the country considering the potential impact of probiotics and mental health.

Sedentary behavior linked to increased risk for depression in older adults

Sedentary behavior is associated with depression among patients aged 70 years with longer daily periods of inactivity correlating with increased risk for depression, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. […] The risk for depression was greater among individuals with a longer total sedentary time (odds ratio [OR] 1.031; 95% CI, 1.007-1.055), with each 1% increase in sedentary time associated with a 3% increase in risk for depression. The risk was also greater among individuals with longer average length of sedentary bouts (OR 1.116; 95% CI, 1.003-1.243), in which each 1-minute average increase in the length of sedentary bouts was associated with a 12% greater risk for depression. 

Psychological function improves with Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing

Background: Evidence suggests that yoga may be an effective treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD). Studies evaluating the “dosing” of yoga treatment and efficacy for MDD are needed. The goal of this study was to assess the effects of an intervention combining Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing in participants with MDD and determine the optimal intervention dose. […] Results:Significant improvements in all outcome measures were found for both groups, with acute and cumulative benefits. Although the HDG showed greater improvements on all scales, between-group differences did not reach significance, possibly due to lack of power because of the small sample size. Cumulative yoga minutes were correlated with improvement in outcome measures. Conclusions: Improvement in psychological symptoms correlated with cumulative yoga practice. Both interventions reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety and increased feelings of positivity. The time commitment for yoga practice needs to be weighed against benefits when designing yoga interventions.

Can the right diet help you heal from trauma?

I’ve worked with trauma survivors throughout my career as a therapist, and I don’t think I’ve ever recommended that they change their diet as part of treatment. But my recent discussion with trauma specialist and psychiatrist Dr. James Gordon, author of The Transformation, has made me rethink the role of nutrition in healing from trauma. The mental health field (myself included) generally has been slow to recognize the role that nutrition can play in mental health. However, recent studies have begun to change commonly held beliefs. For example, research has shown that diet can play a significant role in treating depression (e.g., the SMILES trial and the HELFIMED study). Other studies have found that nutritional supplements can significantly reduce anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress symptoms following major traumatic events.

Study finds cannabis use increases in individuals with depression

The prevalence of cannabis, or marijuana, use in the United States increased from 2005 to 2017 among persons with and without depression and was approximately twice as common among those with depression in 2017. The findings, which are published in Addiction, come from a survey-based study of 728,691 persons aged 12 years or older. “Perception of great risk associated with regular cannabis use was significantly lower among those with depression in 2017, compared with those without depression, and from 2005 to 2017 the perception of risk declined more rapidly among those with depression. At the same time, the rate of increase in cannabis use has increased more rapidly among those with depression,” said corresponding author Renee Goodwin, PhD, MPH, of Columbia University.

To boost mental health, spend time in ‘blue’ spaces

OFFICIALS ARE INCREASINGLY recognizing that integrating nature into cities is an effective public health strategy to improve mental health. Doctors around the world now administer “green prescriptions” — where patients are encouraged to spend time in local nature spaces — based on hundreds of studies showing that time in nature can benefit people’s psychological well-being and increase social engagement. Much of this research to date has focused on the role of green space in improving mental health. But what about “blue” space — water settings such as riverside trails, a lake, a waterfront or even urban fountains? You probably intuitively know that being close to water can induce feelings of calm. And many poets and artists have attested to the sense of awe and magic that water can evoke. But can it deliver the same wide-ranging benefits that urban green infrastructure brings to mental health? A few studies have shown that water bodies score just as well — if not better — in supporting psychological well-being as compared with “green” nature.


Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for December 9, 2019

Gratitude journaling ‘rewires’ the brain for happiness

UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center gives you your gratitude journaling prescription right here

Research shows exercise leads to greater happiness than money

It won’t come as a surprise to you hear about the plethora of benefits we receive from exercising–both on your physical and mental health. If you want to give yourself a refresher to give you an added kick of motivation this week, this will help. However, this new study done by researchers at Yale and Oxford suggests that exercise may be more important to maintaining your mental and emotional health than, stop the press, making a gazillion dollars. Surprised? It may seem hard to believe since we’ve been hardwired from youth to make more money, make more money, just keep making more money. So the idea that something that’s already so good for us anyway would have a larger effect on our happiness than achieving the “American dream,” can seem a bit eyebrow-raising. The study, which was posted in the prestigious journal The Lancet, involved 1.2 million Americans about whom scientists collected data in regard to their physical activity and mood. They were asked questions related to mental wellness, emotional issues, as well as their level of income. That’s a very simple summary of an in-depth study.

Three-day cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) intensive reduced suicidality in adolescents

When an adolescent is acutely suicidal and cannot safely remain in the community, inpatient psychiatric hospitalization is the traditional intervention  […] With funding from the ADAMH board, the unit’s doctors and mental health professionals developed a new therapeutic model called intensive crisis intervention (ICI). […]  a promising alternative to lengthy hospitalization. […] ICI relies on cognitive behavioral therapy, focusing on responses to stress that can lead to suicidal behavior and working with these adolescents and their families to develop better ways of coping with stressors. The model places a particular emphasis on family engagement, and family members are encouraged to stay in the Youth Crisis Stabilization Unit overnight with their children. The therapy takes place across three phases. […] Now, in what appears to be the first study of its kind … 

Transitioning: a threat to our children

The last thing young people with mental-health problems need is a course of toxic hormone treatment. Over the past decade there has been a huge rise in the number of young people seeking treatment for gender dysphoria — a condition in which one experiences a mismatch between one’s biological sex and one’s gender identity. In fact, since 2008/9, there has been a 5,337 per cent increase in referrals of teen girls, and a 1,460 per cent increase in referrals of teen boys, to the Tavistock Clinic, the UK’s leading treatment centre for gender dysphoria. Many of these young people are reported to be already suffering from serious mental health issues, and sometimes a history of self-harm. So they certainly require care. What they don’t require is a potential diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The consequences can be severe. As one doctor puts it, it can mean that vulnerable teens are given puberty-blocking hormones in a ‘context of profound scientific ignorance’. These hormone-blockers suppress the release of testosterone in boys and oestrogen in girls. And they are often followed by cross-sex hormone therapy.

Does structured play build stronger social-emotional skills?

Citing the benefits of playtime, a study conducted by a University of British Columbia (UBC) Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Dr. Adele Diamond, discovered that more play, hands-on learning and altruistic behaviour in kindergarten improves academic outcomes, self-control and attention regulation. “Before children have the ability to sit for long periods absorbing information the way it is traditionally presented in school through lectures, they need to be allowed to be active and encouraged to learn by doing. “Executive functioning skills are necessary for learning, and are often more strongly associated with school readiness than intelligence quotient (IQ). This trial is the first to show benefits of a curriculum emphasising social play to executive functioning in a real-world setting,” says Diamond.

The epidemic, consequences of male loneliness

Loneliness kills. According to former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, isolation and weak social connections “are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking fifteen cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.” Even when it’s not fatal, loneliness makes life a lot less pleasant. We’ll talk about exactly what that means below. While loneliness cuts across all racial and socio-economic lines — just about everyone feels lonely at some point, right? — one group in particular is disproportionately affected: men. […] In the same study, men were 50% more likely than women (18% vs 12%) to say they don’t have any close friends, and 33% more likely (32% vs 24%) to say they don’t have a best friend. […] Aside from the predictable increase in suicide, the other consequences of loneliness and the lack of human connection are devastating. A variety of studies have found a strong correlation between loneliness and increased risk of alcoholism and substance abuse, heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, mental health issues (such as anxiety, depression, and risky behavior, and poor decision making), dementia and cognitive decline, poor self-care (like not eating well or getting enough exercise), disrupted sleep, lack of motivation and poor job performance, decreased resistance to infection, high stress levels, and even chronic diseases such as diabetes.

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 December 7-8, 2019

Study: Psychiatric Diagnoses Are ‘Scientifically Meaningless’ In Treating Mental Health

“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.

Study: Art gallery therapy improves well-being, memory in dementia patients

Mankind has taken refuge in art for centuries. Now, a fascinating new study finds that simply viewing, experiencing, and discussing works of great art can improve the well-being of dementia patients. Furthermore, individuals enrolled in this unique art therapy program also saw their memory and verbal fluency skills improve. The National Gallery of Australia’s Art and Dementia program has actually been running for over 12 years, producing a number of anecdotal and observational benefits among participants. However, this is the first time scientific research was conducted to back up and solidify the program’s benefits. The program is a discussion-based tour of Australia’s National Gallery, in which dementia patients are able to engage with art, interpret its meaning, express their emotions, and even discuss any memories the creative works evoke within them. All of this is conducted in a group, which is another big benefit since it’s very common for dementia patients to suffer from isolation and a lack of interaction with other people.

Psychological Support for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal

This week on MIA Radio we turn our attention to support for those who are struggling to withdraw from psychiatric drugs. Recently in the UK, this issue has become headline news with more and more attention being given to the work of groups such as the Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry and peer-led initiatives such as the Bristol Tranquilliser Project. […] In this interview, we chat with psychotherapist  and project lead Dr. Anne Guy, Peer Support Specialist Paul Sams and Professor of Psychology John Read.

Study: Dogs experience profound personality changes as they age

“When humans go through big changes in life, their personality traits can change. We found that this also happens with dogs – and to a surprisingly large degree,” explains lead author William Chopik, professor of psychology at MSU, in a university release. “We expected the dogs’ personalities to be fairly stable because they don’t have wild lifestyle changes humans do, but they actually change a lot. We uncovered similarities to their owners, the optimal time for training and even a time in their lives that they can get more aggressive toward other animals.” […] “We found correlations in three main areas: age and personality, in human-to-dog personality similarities and in the influence a dog’s personality has on the quality of its relationship with its owner,” says Chopik. “Older dogs are much harder to train; we found that the ‘sweet spot’ for teaching a dog obedience is around the age of six, when it outgrows its excitable puppy stage but before its too set in its ways.”

Cities with the Highest (and Lowest) Rates of Depression

While the U.S. has long been a global leader in healthcare and medicine, the nation is losing its battle with mental health. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention BRFSS Survey, almost one in five Americans have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives. The number of Americans diagnosed with depression has been on the rise over the past few years, with an increase of 17.8 percent between 2016 and 2017 alone. Unfortunately, this may underestimate the problem, since more than half of those with a mental illness receive no treatment.

Positive correlation between depression and obesity among US cities.

10 Cities with the Highest Rates of Depression


#1 – Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI

  • Share of adults ever diagnosed with depression: 25.0%
  • Share of adults who are obese (BMI 30.0 – 99.8): 32.3%
  • Share of total population with a disability: 11.1%
  • Share of total population who are divorced: 10.4%
  • Mean household income: $79,512
  • Share of total population below poverty level: 10.0%

Mindfulness lessons help school children study better and handle emotions

Recent studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States revealed that mindfulness can enhance academic performance and boost mental health in children. One of them, published in August 2019 in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, found that sixth-graders (11-year-olds) who paid attention to their breathing and focused on the present rather than thoughts of the past or future, reported fewer negative feelings such as sadness or anger. They also experienced less stress, as demonstrated by brain imaging studies. Another study, published in the journal Mind, Brain, and Education in June 2019, found that children in grades five to eight (10- to 13-year-olds) who were mindful tended to have better academic grades and test scores, and fewer absences and suspensions.

Just being near this urban feature can boost the health of city dwellers

Officials are increasingly recognizing that integrating nature into cities is an effective public health strategy to improve mental health. Doctors around the world now administer “green prescriptions” — where patients are encouraged to spend time in local nature spaces — based on hundreds of studies showing that time in nature can benefit people’s psychological well-being and increase social engagement. […] You probably intuitively know that being close to water can induce feelings of calm. And many poets and artists have attested to the sense of awe and magic that water can evoke. But can it deliver the same wide-ranging benefits that urban green infrastructure brings to mental health? A few studies have shown that water bodies score just as well — if not better — in supporting psychological well-being as compared with “green” nature. So far the evidence is sparse, though, and mostly limited to coastal settings in Europe. What if you’re in one of the 49 countries in the world, or 27 American states, that are landlocked with no ocean shore? For natural capital to deliver health benefits to people, it needs to be right next to them, integrated into the everyday fabric of their world.

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 December 6, 2019

Sage shares sink as depression therapy fails much-awaited trial

Sage Therapeutics Inc said on Thursday its experimental fast-acting drug aimed at treating severe depression failed a closely-watched study, sending shares down 60% and erasing about $4.6 billion of the drugmaker’s market value. The trial data shocked investors who were betting on the success of SAGE-217, which would have helped the company garner a bigger share of the multi-billion dollar market for depression drugs. “Expectations were so high for a positive outcome… this is going to be a painful setback for many,” said JP Morgan analyst Cory Kasimov in a client note. The company was testing SAGE-217 for a fixed course of 14 days. Currently available antidepressants are required to be taken for months, or even years. At the 15-day mark, however, the oral therapy did not produce a statistically significant improvement in patients scored across 17 different parameters, including anxiety and insomnia.

The connection between sugar and your gut

I recently wrote about the relationship between sleep and inflammation. Both sleep and inflammation are regulated by our circadian bio rhythms. When one goes awry, the other is likely to suffer, also. Sleeping poorly, including getting too little or too much sleep—increases the chronic, low-grade inflammation that is a significant contributor to disease. […] Diets high in sugar increase chronic inflammation. Sugar contributes to the formation of harmful biochemical compounds that spike inflammation. Sugar and refined carbohydrates cause unhealthful, inflammation-boosting changes to gut bacteria—now recognized as a key regulator of overall health. Sugar in our diets also elevates cholesterol, which is linked to increased inflammation. […] Fiber is food for the bacteria and other microbes in our intestines. Eating plenty of fiber is one way to keep our gut healthy. One recent study in mice showed the dramatic effects of switching to a low-fiber diet from a high-fiber one. A low-fiber diet produced significant changes to the diversity of bacterial life in the microbiome. The mice developed inflammation, and their blood sugar levels rose.  

Study suggests two-way relationship between bullying perpetration and mental health problems

A new study at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health suggests there is a two-way relationship between bullying perpetration and mental health problems among youth in the U.S. Researchers report that bullying perpetration increased the risk of developing internalizing problems, and having internalizing problems increased the probability of bullying others. While previous research has focused on the causes and consequences of bullying victimization, this is the first study to comprehensively explore the time sequence between bullying perpetration and mental health problems. The results are published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Bullying is defined as any unwanted aggressive behavior by another youth or group of youths, who are not siblings or dating partners, and is repeated multiple times or highly likely to be repeated. In the U.S., it has been estimated that between 18-31 percent of youths are involved in bullying.

It wasn’t depression that led this physician to suicidal ideation

If antidepressants work, as Big Pharma would like us to believe, why are suicide rates on the rise across all races, ages, and works of life? Why are African American children and teens attempting and dying by suicide more than other races? Why do LGBTQ+ youth have the highest rates of suicide of all youth? Why do Native American/Alaskan youth have the highest rates of suicides of all youth? Why do Indigenous Australian youth lead the pack in suicides in that country? Why would a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed resident with a promising future suddenly kill herself during her second year in surgical residency? Until we begin to look at other myriad reasons for suicide as bonafide players in the game, suicide rates will not come down any time soon.

Movie Review: ‘Little Joe’: A ‘Body Snatchers’ for the Age of Antidepressants

What if you bred a plant with the power to make people “happy” — and its zombified fans would kill to protect it? Imagine Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the age of antidepressants — that’s Little Joe, the seventh feature (and first in English) from Austrian provocateur Jessica Hausner (Lourdes, Amour Fou). Hausner doesn’t so much do another Body Snatchers remake (there’s already been three) as spin its thesis for her own cerebral twists. Borrowed inspiration? Maybe. Too deliberately paced? For sure. But watch out for Hausner. She’s a cinematic hypnotist of a high order. […] Alice, a divorced mother, breaks the rules by bringing a single plant home to show to her adoring teen son, Joe (Kit Connor), who becomes defiant and less adoring the closer he gets to the flower. Though Alice has named the plant and the breed “Little Joe” after her son, she soon begins to see that she might have unleashed a monster. Beecham is spectacularly good at showing how this growing realization affects Alice. While she keeps her distance from the plant, everyone else shows serious behavior modifications. Outwardly calm and “happy” on the surface, these smiling zombies become increasingly protective of the plant and eager to persuade others to take a hit off Little Joe.

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 December 5, 2019

Psychologists explain how to stop overthinking everything

Thinking about something in endless circles — is exhausting. While everyone overthinks a few things once in a while, chronic over-thinkers spend most of their waking time ruminating, which puts pressure on themselves. They then mistake that pressure to be stress. “There are people who have levels of overthinking that are just pathological,” says clinical psychologist Catherine Pittman […] Overthinking can take many forms: endlessly deliberating when making a decision (and then questioning the decision), attempting to read minds, trying to predict the future, reading into the smallest of details, etc. People who overthink consistently run commentaries in their heads, criticising and picking apart what they said and did yesterday, terrified that they look bad — and fretting about a terrible future that might await them.

Study recommends exercise to reduce odds of developing depression

If you are already feeling the holiday blues, a new study says a simple step might make all the difference in boosting your mood. It may be more powerful than any pill, according to a study in Current Sports Medicine Reports. This study says whether it’s yoga or any other form of exercise, staying active at the holidays — or any other time of year — can reduce your risk of depression by up to 17 percent. This study on exercise was a comprehensive review of more than 250,000 people. They followed those who were not depressed at baseline for at least a year and found higher levels of exercise and activity dropped the odds you’ll get depressed. The authors of another study found this same thing true and that it was even better if you exercised with others. They found the support of family and friends and exercise a powerful pairing.

Researchers find bad cholesterol in a newborn’s blood predicts future mental health

Stanford researchers have shown that levels of cholesterol and fat in a newborn’s blood can reliably predict that child’s psychological and social health five years later. If confirmed, the discovery could point to new ways for monitoring or treating mental illnesses, such as depression, early on in childhood. The results correlated lipids in newborn’s umbilical cord blood with teacher ratings of the children’s mental health at about five years of age. Children born with more “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat, or lipid, that circulates in the blood) were more likely to receive poor teacher ratings than were their peers with higher levels of “good” cholesterol and lower triglyceride levels. […] “The fact that the only solid predictor for the Born in Bradford children’s psychosocial competency assessment scores was their fetal lipid levels really argues in favor of a connection between the two,” Manczak said. “Now we need to find out what exactly this connection may be […] Bad cholesterol might promote greater inflammation across the body that influences the way children’s brains are developing or acting,” Manczak said. “That might ultimately be enough to nudge them on certain psychological trajectories.”

How Social Media Drives Polarization

In a time of heightened political tension, Jonathan Haidt has a good idea of what’s driving this polarized atmosphere around the world. He is a social psychologist who believes social media has transformed in recent years to become an “outrage machine,” spreading anger and toxicity. He sits down with Hari to discuss this difficult problem and what the possible solutions could be.

Another downside to vaping: higher odds for depression

Vaping, already linked to lung damage, may also have harmful psychological effects, a new study suggests. The researchers found a strong association between vaping and depression in a study of nearly 900,000 U.S. adults. The apparent culprit: nicotine. “There is a potential risk between e-cigarette use and depression,” said lead researcher Dr. Olufunmilayo Obisesan. She is a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, in Baltimore. “E-cigarettes are not as harmless as people once thought they were,” Obisesan added. Prior studies have found an association between tobacco cigarettes and major depression and suicidal behavior, she noted. “Because e-cigarettes contain nicotine, there could also be an association with depression,” Obisesan said. […]  The researchers found that current e-cigarette users were about twice as likely to have been diagnosed with depression as people who had never used e-cigarettes. And former users were about 60% more likely to have had depression.

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 December 4, 2019

Time to end drug company distortion of medical evidence

A huge proportion of medical research is currently funded by industry—in the United States almost 60%. Yet there’s a mountain of evidence that company-sponsored studies tend to overstate product benefits and playdown harms. One example is cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins. A review analyzing almost 200 studies of statins found that company-sponsored studies were much more likely to find results favorable to the sponsors’ drug. There’s similar distortion with devices, like pelvic mesh, used to treat pelvic organ prolapse. In this case, poor testing meant many women received the mesh without knowing the risks of horrendous harms, including severe pain, infection, and repeated surgery. Those same companies then sponsor the “education” of your doctor, often with the evidence they’ve funded, and good food and wine. As a study of 280,000 doctors reveals, accepting just one sponsored meal is associated with higher prescribing of the sponsor’s products: a 20% increase in statins, and a doubling of antidepressants. Industry argues it’s information helps patients, but a systematic review found differently. Doctors who accept marketing, including sales representatives, tend to prescribe more, at higher cost, and lower quality, such as prescribing an inappropriate drug, or prescribing that is not in line with guidelines. Just look at the opioid epidemic in the United States. One study found the amount of marketing, including payments to doctors, was associated with small but significant increases in both prescriptions and deaths from overdose.

How antidepressants shape young women’s sense of self

A recent study, published in Qualitative Health Research, examines the impact of antidepressants on selfhood during a significant period for identity development in women. The authors, based in New Zealand and the UK, identified self-related themes drawn from the participants shared narratives, including a “diagnosed self,” an “ill self,” a “normal self,” a “stigmatized self,” an “uncertain self,” and a “powerless self.” “Youth is a period of life within which identity issues are paramount and people begin to explore narrative possibilities that will contribute to their future selfhood. Although antidepressants offer young women legitimacy for their distress and the possibility of ‘normal’ functioning, they also represent a significant challenge to selfhood at a time when it is just beginning to take shape,” the authors, Wills, Gibson, Cartwright, and Read, write. […] “Besides the direct impact of these medications on depressive symptoms, antidepressants also have profound consequences for a sense of self as they are designed specifically to alter people’s emotional experience of themselves and the world,” write the authors. 

Does ‘mental illness’ exist?

Does ‘mental illness’ exist? I have taken as my title one of my least favourite questions. Although often posed to critics of psychiatric practice like myself, it actually makes very little sense. In unpicking it, I hope to show that we have better ways forward than the current, largely unchallenged understandings of emotional distress which do not reflect reality – either in terms of the evidence, or in terms of people’s lives. The question really needs re-phrasing in two parts. If we framed the first part as ‘Do people really experience extreme forms of distress such as suicidal despair, hearing hostile voices, crippling anxiety and mood swings?’ then of course the answer is yes. As a clinical psychologist who has worked in the field of mental health for over three decades, and as a human being who is not immune from distress myself, I know this very well. But my answer to the implied second part ‘Are these experience best understood as “mental illnesses”?’ is a definite no. […] There is no issue of greater importance or greater controversy in mental health, since if this cannot be established, the whole model breaks down and all psychiatry’s other functions – indicating treatment, research and so on – will be fundamentally undermined. In the words of Peter Breggin, psychiatry would then become ‘something that is very hard to justify or defend – a medical specialty that does not treat medical illnesses.’

‘Forest bathing’ walks encourage deep connection to nature

In general, forest therapy is the idea that connecting with nature in an intentional way can be beneficial, both emotionally and physically. In some ways, it resembles yoga, with its focus on calming the mind and concentrating on one’s surroundings. “It’s profoundly simple,” said Pamela Wirth, director of partnerships and community with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. “You don’t have to believe in anything, and it’s accessible to most levels of physical ability. “It’s about inviting people to make a connection through the sensory body to really become fully present and connect with nature.” […] “It helps me notice other parts of my life that I can dwell on that aren’t as negative,” he said. “I have a stressful work life that I’m dealing with right now, and this is kind of a nice break from that.” […] “It’s a journey,” she said. “It’s a beautiful way to connect with nature. They say it’s really good for you, and it feels really good for me, so it all seems to work out.”

Mindfulness training may help lower blood pressure, new study shows

Many of these deaths are due to hypertension, or abnormally high blood pressure, and could be prevented through medication or lifestyle changes such as healthier eating, weight loss and regular exercise — but behavior change is often challenging. That’s where mindfulness may be useful, says Eric Loucks, an associate professor of epidemiology, behavioral and social sciences, and medicine at Brown University. “We know enough about hypertension that we can theoretically control it in everybody — yet in about half of all people diagnosed, it is still out of control,” said Loucks, lead author of a new study published in PLOS One. “Mindfulness may represent another approach to helping these people bring their blood pressure down, by allowing them to understand what’s happening in their minds and bodies.” Loucks directs the Mindfulness Center at Brown’s School of Public Health, which aims to help scientists, health care providers and consumers better understand whether particular mindfulness interventions work, for which health concerns and for which patients.

Anxious people may perceive the world differently

A study showed that people with generalized anxiety disorder unconsciously label harmless things as threats, which may serve to further their anxiety. These findings were published in the journal Current Biology. Psychologists recognize several forms of clinical anxiety. The most common is generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, in which people frequently feel very worried or anxious even when it seems like there’s nothing to worry about. Some studies have suggested that anxiety disorders may stem from a process called overgeneralization. In overgeneralization, the brain lumps both safe and unsafe things together and labels them all unsafe. For this reason, the researchers also call this the “better safe than sorry” approach. Our brains naturally pay more attention to negative or threatening information in our environments. If anxious people perceive more threats in the world around them, it would make a lot of sense for them to be worried. […] Paz noted that in dangerous circumstances, the hyper-vigilance associated with anxiety might be a good thing. The problem is that most circumstances aren’t dangerous. “Anxiety traits can be completely normal, and even beneficial evolutionarily,” he says. “Yet an emotional event, even minor sometimes, can induce brain changes that might lead to full-blown anxiety.”

How microbiomes affect fear

Until recently, studies of the gut-brain relationship have mostly shown only correlations between the state of the microbiome and operations in the brain. But new findings are digging deeper, building on research that demonstrates the microbiome’s involvement in responses to stress. Focusing on fear, and specifically on how fear fades over time, researchers have now tracked how behavior differs in mice with diminished microbiomes. […] Peering inside the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the outer brain that processes fear responses, the researchers noticed distinct differences in the mice with impoverished microbiomes: Some genes were expressed less. One type of glial cell never developed properly. Spiny protrusions on the neurons associated with learning grew less plentifully and were eliminated more often. One type of cell showed lower levels of neural activity. It’s as if the mice without healthy microbiomes couldn’t learn to be unafraid, and the researchers could see it on a cellular level. […] On an evolutionary timescale, human microbiomes have changed as more people have come to live in cities, and brain disorders have become increasingly prominent. The swarms of microbes inhabiting each of us have evolved with our species, and it’s vital that we understand how they impact both physical and mental health, Lowry said. Our environments may affect our nervous systems by way of the microbiome, adding new layers of complexity to the study of health and disease in the brain.

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 December 3, 2019

8 songs to calm anxiety, from a music therapist

In my work as a music therapist, I’ve noticed the impact music can have on anxiety. For example, in guided imagery sessions, the therapist uses specially selected music and the client is invited to describe what they are feeling and what images the music conjures up. It’s amazing what insights can be gained from simply allowing yourself time to listen and talk about what you see in your mind’s eye. These may be as simple as becoming more aware of how music can affect emotions, or be used to explore past experiences or future dilemmas. It can also be used to find a place of comfort and a secure base where physical and emotional balance can be found. A recent experiment explored whether certain kinds of music can reduce anxiety during a complex task and concluded that some music is better at doing this than others. Also, a study based on measuring physiological and emotional responses suggests there are certain qualities in music that are better at helping people relax. […] With these musical elements in mind, here are eight suggested pieces of music that meet these criteria:

Is depression really caused by a ‘chemical imbalance’?

If you’ve been around the mental health world for any amount of time, you’ve definitely heard about the “chemical imbalance” theory of depression.  […] Only one problem. This implication that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance may by gospel in the popular zeitgeist, but it’s not really true. In more recent years, we’ve started to move away from minimizing depression to a single chemical imbalance cause, acknowledging mental health is much more complex. Yet the chemical imbalance theory of depression still lingers, enough that it’s worth revisiting. […] So where did this idea come from, why did it get so popular and what do chemical imbalances have to do with depression? 

Honest statement by the APA in 1978, before being co-opted by drug companies. 

So how did this theory take over and convince so many people a chemical imbalance caused depression decades after experts knew better? Jonathan Leo, Ph.D., professor of anatomy at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, primarily attributes this to the power of drug company advertising on TV. “It was really proposed as a very tentative scientific idea and then it quickly morphed into a marketing plan and was picked up by most of the mainstream pharmaceutical companies to market their products,” Leo told The Mighty. “Prior to the chemical imbalance theory, the medications were really marketed to take the strain off everyday living. As soon as the chemical imbalance theory came out, [pharma] tweaked the whole idea that it was this medically related issue.”

Ian’s thoughts: that is an outstanding article, reviewing the history of the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of mental illness. 

Antidepressants not the only medical response to depression

For the more than 17 million Americans who contend with depression lasting two or more weeks during the year, finding a way out of the gloom can be difficult. The number of people affected seems to be growing. […] 12.7% of Americans over age 12 took an antidepressant in the past month, according to the American Psychological Association. Unfortunately, those meds, most often SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), either do not alleviate symptoms or stop working for a third of people taking them. And side effects, from nausea and insomnia to sexual dysfunction and bleeding, lead many folks to abandon the meds even if they are making depressive symptoms more tolerable. […] it is smart medicine to see what is available in addition to or in place of those meds that might help life become more enjoyable today and tomorrow.

Treating multiple sclerosis with the help of the gut microbiome

The population of bacteria in the gut, known as the microbiome, is of great interest to researchers hoping to harness it to treat a host of diseases. A team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital has a unique approach to studying the microbiome and its relation to multiple sclerosis (MS)—one that could provide a completely new way to treat the neurological disorder, they believe. The approach involves a microRNA in the microbiome that increases when MS peaks in mouse models of the disease. When the researchers made a synthetic version of the microRNA and gave it to the mice as an oral treatment, it suppressed symptoms of the disease. They published their findings in the journal Cell Host & Microbe. […] “Our findings, which show that a microRNA can be used to target and influence the microbiome with precision, may have applicability for MS and many other diseases, including diabetes, ALS, obesity and cancer,” he said in a statement.

People with depression experience suicidal thoughts despite treatment

One in five people with depression have suicidal thoughts despite treatment with antidepressants. This is demonstrated in a new study from iPSYCH. The results can be used to examine whether more targeted treatment could be provided for patients where medication does not have a sufficient effect. Antidepressants are used in particular against moderate to severe depressions. A new study from the Danish national research project iPSYCH shows that twenty percent of people with depression have suicidal thoughts, even though they are treated with antidepressants. “Suicidal thoughts are a major challenge among patients with depression,” explains Ph.D. Trine Madsen, from the Capital Region of Denmark, Mental Health Services, who is the lead author on the study. 

Researchers Examine Altitude’s Role In Depression And Suicide

The Mountain West has some of the highest rates of depression and suicide. Researchers think the mountains, with a lack of oxygen at high altitude, could be interfering with people’s mental health.

A Colorado ski town’s struggle with suicide, depression

In 2011, Amanda Precourt was living the dream in a glamorous Colorado ski town, enjoying an intense outdoor recreation lifestyle, socializing, a patron of Vail’s robust arts scene and the daughter of one of its wealthiest and most prominent citizens. The philanthropist and homebuilder seemingly had the perfect life in an alpine paradise. But mentally — and then physically — her world was spinning out of control. Diagnosed with general anxiety and depression when she was in college, Precourt said she had been “popping Prozac for a lot of years and not really realizing what was going on in my brain” when endocrine issues in 2011 “poured lighter fluid” on her underlying depression and led to a severe sleep disorder. […] “It really is the paradise paradox, because you’re supposed to be so happy,” Precourt said. “So you don’t want to admit that you’re not, and then you go out and friends come visit or friends are in town and you keep a fake smile on your face and pretend like everything’s fine when inside you’re really struggling.”

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 December 2, 2019

New Study: Children’s Screen Time Triples Between Ages 1 And 3

Sharing a cell phone or other device with a child often keeps them entertained, but health experts say too much exposure could be bad for their health. According to a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics, screen time triples between the ages of one and three years old in the U.S., meaning a one year-old will go from watching 53-minutes of content a day to more than 150 minutes by age three.Dr. Rishma Chand urges parents to monitor how much time kids are planted in front of a screen: “Screen time becomes a problem when it replaces things kids should be doing at youth — playing sleeping, talking, having real time interactions. That’s when screen time becomes a problem.”

Studies show meditation can reduce pain And opioid use

A new meta-analysis of dozens of studies finds evidence that mind-body therapies, like meditation, can reduce not only pain, but also opioid use. “There have been other reviews of studies of mind body therapies for people experiencing various types of pain,” said Eric Garland, lead author of the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association and director of the Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development at the University of Utah. “By and large, those reviews have showed that my body therapies are effective for reducing pain.

Interview of Eric Garland, University of Utah

“I think that was one of one of the most appealing findings from the from this study was that there really have been a large body of patients who’ve been treated with mind body therapies to alleviate pain and opioid use,” Garland said. “The studies, by and large, were fairly well conducted, fairly rigorous. […] “Mindfulness meditation, hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy seemed to be the most effective,” said Garland, “whereas therapies like relaxation and guided imagery were seem to be less effective. […] “I think really the conclusion when you look at the literature as a whole is that mind body therapies appear to be, by and large, safe and effective means of reducing pain and opioid dosing,” Garland asserted.

One step at a time: how to improve mental health through fitness

When you are struggling with your mental health, getting active may be one of the last things you feel like doing. But if you can muster the energy, evidence shows that exercise has a powerfully beneficial effect. One 2019 study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, found that physical activity is an effective prevention strategy for depression. Another 2015 paper found that exercise can be as helpful in treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressants and psychotherapy. “We have known for a long time that exercise promotes physiological and neurochemical responses that make you feel good,” says Prof Nanette Mutrie of the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences. When we exercise, the brain releases endorphins, as well as dopamine and serotonin. “Very often, these same chemicals form part of antidepressant drugs,” she says.

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for December 1, 2019

The undervalued power of experiencing love in everyday life

My anecdotal observation that feeling small amounts of love in everyday life boosts psychological well-being is corroborated by a recent study (Oravecz et al., 2019). These findings appear in the January 2020 issue of Personality and Individual Differences. The latest research on a link between everyday “felt love “and psychological well-being was conducted by a multidisciplinary team led by Zita Oravecz and Timothy Brick of Penn State University’s Institute for Computational and Data Sciences (ICDS). As the authors explain, “Everyday life presents many experiences that can make people feel connected to another and leave them feeling loved.” […] “We took a very broad approach when we looked at love,” Oravecz, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at Penn State, said in a release. “Everyday felt love is conceptually much broader than romantic love. It’s those micro-moments in your life when you experience resonance with someone. For example, if you’re talking to a neighbor and they express concern for your well-being, then you might resonate with that and experience it as a feeling of love, and that might improve your well-being.”

Studies show spirituality & religion improves children’s mental health

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently performed a study which showed kids and teens who are raised in a spiritual or religious home, fare better with both physical and mental health, than those who are not, when they are older. The study was conducted on 5,000 people, and the aim of it was to see if the frequency, at which children were exposed to religion or spirituality, had an impact on their overall wellbeing. […] According to the study, introducing children to religion or spirituality, when they’re young, did have a positive impact on them as young adults. Kids who grew up in homes, where their parents attended some sort of service once a week or practiced some sort of at-home prayer or meditation, when surveyed, showed to be 18% happier in their 20’s than the children and teens, who did not attend service or have prayer/meditation. The study also showed that kids who grew up in homes with some level of religion or spirituality, were 30% more likely to give back in the form of volunteer service. What’s more, 33% were less likely than their counterparts to engage in drug use.

Mindfulness isn’t just for adults: teaching your kids to reset is essential

Teenagers are at the perfect phase in life to start developing mindfulness. Mindfulness is part of a skill category called metacognition, which is the act of thinking about thinking. It’s how we talk ourselves out of negative thought patterns and recognize when we’re being irrational. Metacognitive ability increases significantly during the teenage years, so it’s important that we teach teens how to manage their thoughts in healthy ways. The effects of mindfulness and meditation practices on adolescents have been studied in many settings, from outpatient clinics to high schools. In 2011, a mindfulness program for adolescents, called Learning to BREATHE, was studied in a pilot program involving 120 female high school seniors. The girls who participated showed a decrease in negative experiences like fatigue, physical aches and pains, and unpleasant emotions in general. Instead, they enjoyed more positive feelings like relaxation, calmness, and self-acceptance. […] As teenagers engage with the idea of mindfulness and use the exercises when they need them, they will notice the improvement in their daily life. They will quickly learn that this is a tool that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.  

Negative bias in people with depression is temporary

The tendency to have an enhanced response to negative facial expressions is common in people with depression. The findings of a new study show that treatment can reduce this bias. People with depression can be highly sensitive to negative events. Past studies have found that these individuals can recollect negative words and identify sad facial expressions more accurately than those not living with depression. These findings fall into the emotional information processing category. A new study, appearing in Biological Psychology, has investigated whether a similar pattern occurs in a different form of information processing.

Life expectancy and mortality rates in the United States, 1959-2017

US life expectancy has not kept pace with that of other wealthy countries and is now decreasing. […] Between 1959 and 2016, US life expectancy increased from 69.9 years to 78.9 years but declined for 3 consecutive years after 2014. The recent decrease in US life expectancy culminated a period of increasing cause-specific mortality among adults aged 25 to 64 years that began in the 1990s, ultimately producing an increase in all-cause mortality that began in 2010. During 2010-2017, midlife all-cause mortality rates increased from 328.5 deaths/100 000 to 348.2 deaths/100 000. By 2014, midlife mortality was increasing across all racial groups, caused by drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases. The largest relative increases in midlife mortality rates occurred in New England (New Hampshire, 23.3%; Maine, 20.7%; Vermont, 19.9%) and the Ohio Valley (West Virginia, 23.0%; Ohio, 21.6%; Indiana, 14.8%; Kentucky, 14.7%). The increase in midlife mortality during 2010-2017 was associated with an estimated 33 307 excess US deaths, 32.8% of which occurred in 4 Ohio Valley states.

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for November 28-30, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving from Peter, Ginger, and our Yorkie!

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Nov 27, 2019

On this remarkable radio/TV presentation of the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, I talk with three outstanding Toronto activists and leaders in the antipsychiatry movement: psychologist Bonnie Burstow; psychiatrist Stephen Ticktin; and activist Oriel Varga. Much of our time emphasizes what they are doing in Canada and the world to stop psychiatric oppression—a goal which I wholly support. Yet we somewhat disagree about the nature and aims of psychotherapy. The disagreement pertains to whether individual freedom or the necessity of social change lies at the heart of living a good life. For me, therapy should enable individuals to pursue their own personal goals in a satisfying manner and I seldom find that political activism is high on anyone’s wish list. For my guests, political activism is part of recovery. An interesting discussion between well-meaning people who deeply respect and enjoy each other and yet who differ on an important aspect of what it means to live a good and satisfying life.

‘Performance-enhancing substance’: How Thanksgiving gratitude may improve your health

Show your gratitude this Thanksgiving. It’s good for your health. Expressing gratitude improves cardiovascular strength, sleep quality and more, researchers said. “Gratitude enhances performance in every domain that’s been examined, psychological, relational, emotional, physical,” said Robert Emmons, a professor and psychologist at the University of California-Davis. “This is why it’s been referred to as the ultimate performance-enhancing substance.” The field of gratitude health studies is young, but researchers said practicing gratitude may positively affect physical health in two main ways: It can change your biology and your behavior. “A health behavior change is when someone that practices gratitude ends up engaging in more self-care behaviors, or following the directions of their care provider more closely,” said Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director at the Greater Good Science Center, an interdisciplinary research center at UC-Berkley. “Sometimes you’ll find that a study reports that a particular gratitude intervention leads to lower blood pressure – that’s the biology pathway.”

Obesity can cause brain damage, says study

While obesity is primarily associated with weight gain, a new study suggests it triggers inflammation in the nervous system that could damage important regions of the brain. Developments in MRI, like diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a technique that tracks the diffusion of water along the brain’s signal-carrying white matter tracts, have enabled researchers to study this damage directly. “Brain changes were found in obese adolescents related to regions responsible for control of appetite, emotions and cognitive functions,” said study co-author Pamela Bertolazzi from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. […] From DTI, the researchers derived a measure called fractional anisotropy (FA), which correlates with the condition of the brain’s white matter. A reduction in fractional anisotropy is indicative of increasing damage in the white matter. The results showed reduction of FA values in the obese adolescents in regions located in the corpus callosum, a bundle of nerve fibre that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain. […] The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), scheduled from December 1 to 6 in the USA.

The tragedy of the ‘trans’ child

[According to] James Cantor, a Canadian psychologist with decades of clinical and research experience in treating transsexuals, “all the studies have come to a remarkably similar conclusion: Only very few trans-kids still want to transition by the time they are adults.” From these studies, conducted prior to the cultural mainstreaming of gender-identity theory, it consistently appears that 80 percent of gender-confused children psychologically realign with their biological sex by young adulthood or sooner when supported through their natural puberty with non-invasive therapies such as watchful waiting. Realignment was (and, among more cautious professionals, still is) considered the ideal outcome, since it is obviously easier for a child to change his thinking than to try to change his sex. […] On the gender-affirmation model, clinicians have put children as young as twelve on sterilizing cross-sex hormones, removed the healthy breasts of girls as young as 13, and peeled and inverted the penises of boys as young as 15. Is it too much to wonder why? Humans are a sexually dimorphic species. Females produce eggs and bear offspring, while males produce sperm and impregnate females. The existence of disorders of sexual development (or, more imprecisely and potentially offensively, of “intersex” persons), and the need for greater social understanding of them, in no way collapses this distinction.

Jim Gottstein: Patient rights in mental healthcare

Individuals with dark traits have the ability but not the disposition to empathize 

Empathy is fundamental to social cognition and societal values. Empathy is theorized as having both the ability as well as the disposition to imagine the content of other people’s minds. We tested whether the notorious low empathy in dark personalities (Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism; the Dark Triad) is best characterized by a lack of capacity (ability) or lack of disposition (trait). Data was collected for 278 international participants through an anonymous online survey shared on the online platform LinkedIn, consisting of trait-based Dark Triad personality (SD3) and empathy (IRI), and cognitive ability (ICAR16) and ability-based empathy (MET). Dark personality traits had no relationship with ability-based empathy, but strongly so with trait-based empathy (β = -0.47). Instead, cognitive ability explained ability-based empathy (β = 0.31). The finding is that dark personalities in a community sample is normally cognizant to empathize but has a low disposition to do so. This finding may help shed further light on how personality is interlinked with ability.

Study finds one in four youngsters ‘addicted’ to smartphones

One in four children and young people are using their smartphones in way that is consistent with a behavioural addiction, scientists found. These youngsters are exhibiting “problematic smartphone usage”, meaning they use the devices in way that is consistent with a behavioural addiction, scientists found. The study, by researchers at King’s College London and published in BMC Psychiatry, analysed 41 studies published since 2011 on smartphone usage and mental health. It concluded that between 10% and 30% of children and young people use their phones in a dysfunctional way, meaning that on average 23% were showing “problematic smartphone usage” (PSU). The KCL researchers defined PSU as behaviour linked to smartphone use that has an element of addiction – such as anxiety when the phone is unavailable or causing neglect of other activities. The study also concluded that there are links between PSU and mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, poor sleep and depressed moods.

Some brain-boosting supplements contain an unapproved drug that could harm users

New research led by Dr. Pieter Cohen of Harvard Medical School documents five supplement brands for sale in the U.S. that contain various amounts of piracetam, a drug prescribed in European countries for cognitive impairment in dementia but not approved in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t allow piracetam to be sold as a dietary supplement and has issued warning letters in the past to other companies marketing supplements that contain it. Though the drug is approved in Europe, evidence for using piracetam to improve cognition was “inadequate,” a Cochrane Review analyzing 24 studies that enrolled more than 11,000 patients concluded in 2012. Cohen and his colleagues reported in JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday that piracetam is listed as an ingredient on the labels of five supplements for sale online. Relentless Improvement, Nootropics, and Specialty Pharmacy sold their products as piracetam. BPS named its supplement Compel, and Cognitive Nutrition called its NeuroPill but included piracetam on the label. 

Young-onset drinking predicts hospitalization for alcohol intoxication among adolescents

In studies, younger age at first alcohol use has been associated with later alcohol problems in adult life, including heavy drinking and alcohol use disorder. That is the reason why around the world, as in the Netherlands, a key aim of alcohol policy is to postpone the age at first alcohol use. In a report published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers from the Netherlands have investigated whether age of drinking onset is a risk factor for alcohol intoxication among adolescents aged under 18 years. Among this group of adolescents, half had had their first alcoholic drink before age 15 years, and half when aged between 15 and 18 years. […]  The researchers showed that after adjusting for other factors that could influence the results, a year’s delay in drinking onset was associated with a 6 month increase in age at admission for intoxication.

Study finds lower rates of premature death and cancer in Seventh-day Adventists

A recent study found lower rates of premature death and cancer in Seventh-day Adventists, a Protestant denomination long known for health promotion, compared with individuals in the general U.S. population. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study also found similar results when limiting the analysis to Black Adventists and the Black general population. Health behaviors promoted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church include not smoking, eating a plant-based diet, regular exercise, and maintaining normal body weight. […] “Adventist vegetarians have less overweight, diabetes, hypertension, elevated blood cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and several cancers compared with Adventist non-vegetarians, who themselves are lower than usual consumers of animal foods,” he said. “Thus, the findings in this report comparing all Adventists–vegetarians and non-vegetarians–to average Americans are largely as expected, and strongly suggest that these health advantages may be available to all Americans who choose similar diets, in addition of course to other well-known prudent lifestyle choices such as regular physical activity, avoiding smoking, and care with body weight.”

Irregularly shaped parks reduce mortality risk of residents in the neighborhood

Some community parks are square, a reflection of the city block where they’re located — but irregularly shaped parks reduce the mortality risk of residents who live near them, concluded a study by Huaquing Wang, a Ph.D. Urban and Regional Sciences student and Lou Tassinary, professor of visualization. “Nearly all studies investigating the effects of natural environments on human health are focused on the amount of a community’s green space,” said the scholars in a paper describing their project. “We found that the shape or form of green space has an important role in this association.” Their paper was published in the Nov. 2019 issue of The Lancet Planetary Health. […] “Our results suggest that linking existing parks with greenways or adding new, connected parks might be fiscally accessible strategies for promoting health. We showed that the complexity of the park shape was positively associated with a lower risk of mortality,” they said in the paper. “This association might be attributable to the increased number of access points provided by complex-shaped green spaces.”

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for November 27, 2019

Most children exceed recommended screen time, study finds

A study published in JAMA Pediatrics on Monday found that at 12 months of age, children on average watched television or used a computer or mobile device for 53 minutes per day. That number skyrocketed to about 150 minutes per day by the time children reached the age of 3. WHO released new guidelines in April stating that children under a year have no screen time and those under 5 have no more than one hour of screen time per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no digital media exposure for children under 18 months, only introducing children 18 to 24 months to screen time slowly, and limiting it to an hour a day for children from 2 to 5. However, the study found that 87% of children exceeded the recommended screen time for their age. While time spent with digital media increased throughout the toddler years, by age 7 and 8 it fell to less than 90 minutes per day. Researchers attribute the decline to children spending more time on school-related activities.

Ian’s thoughts: those results are especially disturbing given the study published a few weeks ago finding impaired brain development in very young children related to screen time in excess of recommendations. 

Does social media increase teen depression?

Research is helping to sort out which online activities may be harmful to teens and which are not. It’s a “good news, bad news” story. A group of researchers in Montreal studied the online activity and screen use patterns of almost 4,000 adolescents over a four-year period starting in Grade 7. Their research showed that, on average, as teenagers’ use of social media increased in a given year, so too did their reported symptoms of depression that year. That’s the bad news. The good news is that being online playing video games didn’t have the same negative association. […] the study is helpful because it suggests that not all active screen time impacts children in the same way. In a previous blog post, I argued, based on the available evidence, that children who spend lots of time passively in front of a screen (watching television or Youtube videos) were more likely to suffer mental health problems than if they were actively engaged online. This new study indicates that active engagement is still far better than passively watching a screen.

Skiers have lower incidence of depression and vascular dementia

Half as many diagnosed with depression, a delayed manifestation of Parkinson’s, a reduced risk of developing vascular dementia — but not Alzheimer’s. These connections were discovered by researchers when they compared 200,000 people who had participated in a long-distance cross-country ski race between 1989 and 2010 with a matched cohort of the general population. The results of the population register study, led by researchers at Lund University in Sweden together with Uppsala University, were recently published in three scientific articles. “As brain researchers, we have had the unique opportunity to analyse an exceptionally large group of very physically active people over two decades, and we have unravelled some interesting results,” says Tomas Deierborg, research team leader and associate professor at Lund University.

High levels of screen use associated with symptoms of anxiety in adolescence

A new study […] reveals that social media use, television viewing and computer use, but not video gaming, are linked to an increase in anxiety symptoms among adolescents. The study, published in academic outlet the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, shows that a higher than average frequency of social media use, television viewing and computer use over four years predicts more severe symptoms of anxiety over that same time frame. Over and above a potential common vulnerability to both sets of behaviours, the study demonstrates that if a teen experienced an increase in their social media use, television viewing and computer use in a given year which surpassed their overall average level of use, then his or her anxiety symptoms also increased in that same year. Furthermore, when adolescents decreased their social media use, television viewing, and computer use, their symptoms of anxiety became less severe. Thus, no lasting effects were found.

Are we looking for happiness in all the wrong places?

Research shows that additional income, dating apps and social media don’t necessarily bring us the joy we think they will. One of the major misconceptions of happiness is income, notes USC Dornsife’s Norbert Schwarz, Provost Professor of Psychology and Marketing. “Everybody wants higher income and is willing to do quite a bit for that. In reality, income makes much less of a difference than we usually expect,” Schwarz says. “When you are poor, earning more money is very beneficial, but once needs are met, making more and more adds ever less to one’s well-being. “You don’t need a lot of luxury to feel good as you go through your day,” he adds. “And many high-income jobs come with long hours and high stress, which makes the day less enjoyable.” In fact, the relationship between income and life satisfaction, he notes, is relatively minor, with income explaining only about 4 percent of the variation in people’s evaluation of their life as a whole and even less in how they feel moment to moment.

Transgender college students four times more likely to experience mental health problems

A recent study on gender minority mental health in the U.S. gathered information from a national survey on college campuses among undergraduate and graduate students. […] “Rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, non-suicidal self-injury were approximately twice as high for gender minority students than for cisgender students, and suicidality indicators such as suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts were three-to-four times higher. Public health efforts are urgently needed to meet the mental health needs of gender minority students.” Gender minority students had significantly higher prevalence rates (78 per cent) of symptoms than their cisgender counterparts (45 per cent) and were found to be 4.3 times more likely to have at least one mental health problem. 

Depression: men far more at risk than women in deprived areas

Major depressive disorder is a particular form of the condition which affects many people […] This is the condition we examined during our new study, which showed that living in a deprived area can lead to major depressive disorder in men, but not in women. […] we found that men living in the most deprived areas were 51% more likely to experience depression than those living in areas that were not deprived. Interestingly, the results did not reach statistical significance in women. […] A recent study investigating depression risks for men and women indicated that men are more affected by “failures at key instrumental tasks, such as expected work achievements and failures to provide adequately for the family”. Research shows that men seem to be more sensitive to certain stressors in their environment compared to women, such as those related to work and finances. […] A great many factors may be behind this, but in the UK, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women and so root causes as to why men are struggling should be investigated.

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

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

News & Information for November 26, 2019

Feeling loved in everyday life linked with improved well-being

In two studies, the researchers found that people who experienced higher “felt love” — brief experiences of love and connection in everyday life — also had significantly higher levels of psychological well-being, which includes feelings of purpose and optimism, compared to those who had lower felt love scores. They also found that people with higher felt love tended to have higher extraversion personality scores, while people with lower felt love scores were more likely to show signs of neuroticism. “We took a very broad approach when we looked at love,” said Zita Oravecz, assistant professor of human development and family studies and ICDS faculty co-hire. “Everyday felt love is conceptually much broader than romantic love. It’s those micro-moments in your life when you experience resonance with someone. For example, if you’re talking to a neighbor and they express concern for your well-being, then you might resonate with that and experience it as a feeling of love, and that might improve your well-being.”

Religious California town may hold lessons for living longer

[Loma Linda] is one of the five original blue zones, regions in the world where people live longest and are the healthiest. In fact, the people in this community tend to live eight to 10 years longer than the average American. Experts say that’s because Loma Linda has one of the highest concentrations of Seventh-day Adventists in the world. The religion mandates a healthy lifestyle and a life of service to the church and community, which contributes to their longevity. […] Wareham passed away last year, at the age of 104. Like 10% of the Adventist community, Wareham was a vegan. Another 30% are lacto-ovo vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs, while another 8% eat fish but not other meat. Vegetarianism is so prevalent that no meat can be purchased at the cafeterias at the university and medical center. “Even our non-vegetarians are relatively low meat consumers,” said Dr. Michael Orlich, the principal investigator […] Based on US Department of Agriculture statistics on meat sold, Americans were expected to consume 222 pounds of red meat and poultry per person last year. In comparison, the Seventh-day Adventist meat eaters in the study consume less than 46 pounds a year.

South Carolina bill could ban transgender surgery, hormones or antidepressants for teens

Lawmakers in South Carolina want to make it illegal for doctors to operate on or prescribe hormones and possibly even antidepressants to transgender children and teenagers, according to a bill proposed last week. If signed into law, the bill would make any medical efforts toward gender reassignment impossible for anyone under 18. The legislation even aims to outlaw drugs to treat ‘symptoms of clinically significant distress resulting from gender dysphoria,’ including depression or anxiety that arise from being assigned a gender at birth that doesn’t match a young person’s identity. State Representative Stewart Jones told the Post and Courier the bill is to ‘protect children’ like a seven-year-old in Texas whose gender reassignment surgery is now being delayed by a court battle over her father’s objections. 

Antidepressant use soars despite static depression prevalence among elderly

Use of antidepressants among older people has more than doubled over the past 20 years, despite little change in the prevalence of depression, research published in The British Journal of Psychiatry (7 October 2019) has shown. […] The researchers found little change in the prevalence of depression between participants questioned between 1990 and 1993 and those questioned between 2008 and 2011, but the proportion of participants taking antidepressants rose from 4.2% to 10.7%. “[Access to] newer antidepressants means that it is easier to treat older people for depression, but it is disappointing that increases in the proportion [of people] receiving antidepressants isn’t reflected in any real decrease in the prevalence of depression,” said Antony Arthur, professor of nursing science at the University of East Anglia’s School of Health Sciences and lead author of the study.

[OC] Selected Causes of Death in Comparison with the No. 1 Cause from r/dataisbeautiful

Two studies lay the blame for childhood screen time at moms’ feet

The often perplexing world of screen-time research has some new findings—one pretty obvious, and one a bit strange. The mom effect, part 1: The first of two studies published today in the journal JAMA, led by Sheri Madigan at the University of Calgary, used survey data to see whether preschoolers were meeting World Health Organization guidelines for screen time, which recommend no more than an hour a day for that age bracket. Madigan and her colleagues found that almost 80% of two-year-olds and nearly 95% of three-year-olds were on screens for longer than an hour.  Moms who spent large amounts of time on their respective devices tended to have kids who did, too. […] Moms bear the brunt of the blame in these studies because that’s how this kind of research has always been done. That allows data collection, analysis, and comparisons between data sets to stay consistent over time (in Yeung’s work, data was collected in two batches between 2007 and 2019). It also leaves out a huge chunk of the typical parenting equation. Both Yeung and Madigan noted that data on both dads and overall parental involvement (or lack thereof) in screen time is due to be incorporated in this kind of research soon.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for November 25, 2019

Omega-3 fish oil just as effective at improving attention in some children as ADHD drugs

For years, people with trouble concentrating have been described as having “the attention span of a goldfish.” Ironically, a new international study finds that omega-3 fish oil can actually treat ADHD symptoms in certain children and improve attention just as much, or more, than many leading medications. However, the research team caution that their findings only apply to children with low levels of omega-3 in their blood. […] “Our results suggest that fish oil supplements are at least as effective for attention as conventional pharmacological treatments among those children with ADHD who have omega-3 deficiency. […] “The omega-3 supplements only worked in children that had lower levels of EPA in their blood, as if the intervention was replenishing a lack of this important nutrient. For those children with omega-3 deficiency, fish oil supplements could be a preferable option to standard stimulant treatments. Our study sets an important precedent for other nutritional interventions, and we can start bringing the benefits of ‘personalized psychiatry’ to children with ADHD,” adds senior researcher professor Carmine Pariante.

Ian’s thoughts: this study suggests that the “ADHD” label is being abused to misdiagnose dietary deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Pregnancy-related depression may be linked to inflammation, study says

A new study says inflammation could be a primary cause for depression during and after pregnancy. This severe depression is not to be mistaken for the “baby blues,” a milder, passing bout of negative emotions right after delivery. Pregnancy-related depression is a serious medical condition that can escalate in severity and may even require hospitalization. “As many as 90 percent of women will experience a lot of new changes in the days right after delivery,” said Dr. Lena Brundin, associate professor at Van Andel Institute and senior author of the study. […] The placenta, an organ that surrounds, protects, provides food and oxygen to the baby, also creates high levels of inflammation in the body. “That inflammation, early in pregnancy, it protects the baby from being rejected by the mother’s immune system,” said Eric Achtyes, staff psychiatrist at Pine Rest. […] “Maybe we need a different kind of treatment, maybe an anti-inflammatory treatment would be helpful.”

Science says the most successful kids have parents who do these 5 things

While becoming a parent may be easy for many people, doing a stellar job in the role often is not. Here’s what the parents of the most successful kids do differently, according to a handful of recent studies. They limit screen time You probably understand that letting your child sit in front of a screen for hours at a time isn’t good for his or her development and health. But in reality, policing this aspect of life is difficult considering the ubiquity of digital entertainment and the reality of how young people use social media to relate with one another. But it’s definitely a battle worth fighting if you consider a study which found that kids whose screen time exceeded limits set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) actually have less functional brains. Researchers tested the language and literacy skills of 47 preschoolers between ages three and five and conducted imaging on their brains. The kids who had higher levels of screen-based media use had lower microstructural integrity of white matter tracts. … 

Study that shows pharmaceuticals are changing fish behavior is alarming, says Bluewater

A new scientific study showing how fish behavior is being changed by pharmaceuticals entering water habitats after being incorrectly disposed of highlights the urgent need for research into the impact of such drugs on human health, says Bluewater, a world leader in water purification technologies and solutions. “The findings are alarming as they add to growing evidence that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals leaking into the natural environment can disrupt the functioning of hormones,” said Swedish environmental entrepreneur Bengt Rittri, founder and CEO of Bluewater. […] “The latest research findings from Monash University spotlight how wildlife and humans alike are at risk from ingesting the growing amount of chemical and other contaminants being found in the water we drink. We face the worst of outcomes if we don’t act to halt the toxic waste entering our water and food chains,” said Bengt Rittri.

AI, brain augmentation and our identities

Do you know who you are? If so, do you direct your own actions? These are two questions that we ask ourselves when someone asks us about our identities. In the west, individualism is valued. We like to think that we have agency in our own actions. We like to think that our identities are not affected by the world. We are distinct. We are unique. […] Brain augmentation is not a new concept. From the 1950’s, ever since Robert G. Heath demonstrated that you can use electrical stimulation to treat patients with mental illnesses, there were waves of physicians following suit to treat their patients with brain stimulation. From that point onwards, the US military experimented with mind control techniques for the use of the military. […] It’s not hard to see the ethical implications of brain augmentation. With the power of artificial intelligence, if the brain can be controlled, then any responses from the individual can also be controlled. This is when we start to lose our human agency. […] Essentially, to adapt to the age of artificial intelligence, we may need an implant to help us enhance our abilities”. This is as evolutionists like to call “human-machine” evolution. […] Do we want this vision to be realized? Have we thought about the implications? These are the questions we’ll be asking in the new year, and undoubtedly, the years ahead.

Ian’s thoughts: It’s terrifying to think one day people may not be able to participate in society unless they accept a brain implant that could override your personal volition. What would sound like a fevered nightmare or B-movie script in decades past could actually be humanity’s future. Be sure to see Dr. Breggin and Truthstream Media’s critical analysis of Elon Musk’s vision of a future where we all have brain implants. It might not be as unlikely or as far off as we’d hope. 


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 November 23-24, 2019

Persistent harms of antidepressants have not been investigated 

It is well known that harms caused by SSRIs can be long-lasting [18] and there are indications that they can even be permanent, e.g. for sexual disturbances [39, 40]. Withdrawal symptoms are also drug harms, and they can also persist for a long time [18]. Even though the median publication year was 2013, and even though all the trials we reviewed had a follow-up of at least 24 weeks after the randomised phase, none of them reported adequately on persisting harms of SSRIs; in fact, the reporting was very poor and selective. The authors were not even interested in reporting withdrawal effects although they likely occurred in all the trials. […] The currently available randomized trials are not helpful in elucidating what the persistent harms of antidepressants drugs are. 

Why are so many kids addicted to vaping?

With thousands sickened and 47 dead from a mysterious lung illness linked to vaping, teenage use of electronic cigarettes is still surging. As the health risks grow, pressure is building on President Trump to take action, with particular focus on limiting the flavored tobacco products that appeal to kids. William Brangham reports and talks to Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. […] “Anything else we do won’t work, unless we get rid of the flavors. What we have seen is that 97 percent of all kids who use e-cigarettes use a flavored product. Seventy percent of them say they use the product precisely because of the flavors. If you have something out there that kids will want to get, they will find a way to do it.”

Screen time impairs kids’ language, literacy and cognitive skills

Experts are studying the impact of screen time on brain development in young kids. A new study is shedding light on concerns when it comes to pre-schoolers watching too much. Shannon Visentin, a pediatric occupational therapist and owner of Thera-Peds, has strong opinions about screen time and young kids. “It’s kind of my soap box,” she said. “I’m feeling lately that a lot of kids cannot problem solve. They come in, they cannot build a fort.” The term, “screen time” has become a double-edged sword. Experts believe it’s a part of life, but it’s also changing life. “Seeing these babies, these toddlers on phones at parks and restaurants, it’s starting to bother me a lot more,” said Visentin. “They are not getting the language and interaction with friends and family. They’re not multi-sensory learning.”

Kids with ‘helicopter parents’ more likely to burn out and struggle in the ‘real world’

In many ways, the college admissions scandal, aka “Operation Varsity Blues,” was a cautionary tale about what can happen when parents get too involved in their children’s school careers. Although most parents don’t break the law or pay millions of dollars to get their kids into prestigious schools, “helicopter parenting” is far more common, and it can have lasting psychological effects. A new study from Florida State University found that kids who had helicopter parents were more likely to experience burnout from schoolwork, and they had a harder time transitioning from school to the real world. […] Those who had helicopter parents also had higher levels of burnout in school. And these effects were more pronounced when their fathers were the ones hovering compared to mothers. Researchers define helicopter parents as those who “excessively monitor” their kids and are overly involved or controlling in a way that’s inappropriate for parents of adults. Instead of teaching their kids how to handle obstacles, helicopter parents often just clear the way for them. For example, a helicopter parent might do their kid’s laundry or speak to their child’s professor about their grades.

Omega-3 fatty acids’ health benefit linked to stem cell control

For years, researchers have known that defects in an ancient cellular antenna called the primary cilium are linked with obesity and insulin resistance. Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that the strange little cellular appendage is sensing omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, and that this signal is directly affecting how stem cells in fat tissue divide and turn into fat cells. […] Jackson and his colleagues found that when omega-3 fatty acids bind to a receptor called FFAR4 on the cilia of fat stem cells, it prompts the fat stem cells to divide, leading to the creation of more fat cells. This provides the body with more fat cells with which to store energy, something that is healthier than storing too much fat in existing fat cells. “What you want is more, small fat cells rather than fewer, large fat cells,” Jackson said.  “A large fat cell is not a healthy fat cell. The center is farther away from an oxygen supply, it sends out bad signals and it can burst and release toxic contents.” Large fat cells are associated with insulin resistance, diabetes and inflammation, he added.

Discovering the connections between chronic stress, inflammation and depression

Chronic stress can inflame our brain, destroy the connections between our neurons and result in depression, scientists say. Now they are working to better understand how the destructive cycle happens and how best to intervene. Even powerful, prescription anti-inflammatory drugs that should help break the connectivity between chronic stress and inflammation don’t help many patients with depression, says Dr. Anilkumar Pillai, neuroscientist in the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. […] C3 is known to play a key role in inflammation in the brain, and microglia, the resident immune cells in the brain, are known to use C3 during brain development to eliminate synapses. […] Studies have shown that chronic stress is a major factor in depression, says Pillai. In fact, people with physical health problems like cancer or heart disease where inflammation also is a major factor, often develop depression, and at least one reason is that high levels of inflammation that are impacting the body also may be affecting the brain, Pillai says.

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for November 22, 2019

WHO report warns that adolescents get too little exercise and too much screen time

Most adolescents aren’t getting enough exercise as screen time increasingly replaces physical activity in homes across the world, putting their current and future health at risk, the World Health Organization warned in a new study Thursday. The study, published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, found that 85% of girls and 78% of boys are not meeting the current recommendation of at least one hour of physical activity per day. The authors of the study used data reported by 1.6 million students ages 11-17. “Urgent policy action to increase physical activity is needed now, particularly to promote and retain girls’ participation in physical activity,” study author Dr. Regina Guthold of WHO said in a release. […] “The trend of girls being less active than boys is concerning,” study co-author Leanne Riley of WHO said in a release. “More opportunities to meet the needs and interests of girls are needed to attract and sustain their participation in physical activity through adolescence and into adulthood.” […] “Policies should increase all forms of physical activity, including through physical education that develops physical literacy, more sports, active play and recreation opportunities,” as well as “providing safe environments so young people can walk and cycle independently,” co-author Dr. Fiona Bull of WHO said in the release.

Survey: Americans eating less meat more plant-based options instead

Cheeseburgers, steaks, and hot dogs are synonymous with American cuisine, or at least they were at one time. According to a new survey of 2,000 Americans, if these dishes are a common part of your diet, you’re now in the minority. Less than half (47%) of the survey’s respondents said meat is a major part of their diet. The survey, commissioned by Herbalife Nutrition, found that many Americans (23%) are adopting a “flexitarian” approach to eating. This means eating mostly vegetarian foods with the occasional inclusion of meat. Another 18% of respondents said they were fully vegetarian. So, what’s fueling this shift in Americans’ eating habits? Among survey participants, flexitarians were the most likely group to say their food choices stemmed from trying to be more environmentally friendly (40%) or ethical (31%). Young people are also a factor; 36% of surveyed flexitarians said they adopted their new diet because their children encouraged them to do so.

Depression & anxiety epidemic caused by ‘safetyism’

WGBH continues mental health radio series due to epidemic depression on campus

WGBH has launched a new four-part radio series titled “Stressed and Depressed on Campus” in response to a study by researchers at Boston University and the University of Michigan, which revealed 36 percent of college students struggle with depression. The Healthy Minds Study, conducted during the 2018-19 school year, aims to provide “a detailed picture of mental health and related issues in college student populations,” according to the study’s website.

The study was led by Sarah Lipson, an assistant professor at the School of Public Health, and Daniel Eisenberg, a professor of Health Management and Policy at University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. “I also like to think of Healthy Minds’ data as a way for campuses to identify opportunities to invest in student mental health programming,” Lipson said, “including prevention and wellness initiatives.” […] “We often think of mental illness as a more or less individual concern, something to handle on one’s own, or with the help of a therapist,” Galea said. “But mental health is shaped by the same forces that shape physical health. Our income, neighborhood, community networks, education level, proximity to harmful forces like racism and misogyny, such factors deeply influence the health of our bodies and our minds.”

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 November 21, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 11/20/19

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

Another new study suggests inflammation can cause depression

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

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

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

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

New evidence that yoga can offers relief for people with depression

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

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

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

News & Information for November 20, 2019

Lower risk of depression with 35 minutes of exercise per day

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

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

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

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

New Study Shows Impact of Technology on Relationships

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

MSU study: Internet-based program used reduces depression symptoms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The gut microbiome in psychiatry: A primer for clinicians

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

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for November 19, 2019

Increased antidepressant use does not decrease depression prevalence in older adults

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tragic trans boys who want to be girls again are ignored

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

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

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

Pam Popper: Cancer Cells Mutate

Mayo Report: What are the benefits of friendships?

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

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

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


Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for November 18, 2019

Taking dementia patients off antipsychotics yields success for researchers

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

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

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

Inappropriate use of antipsychotics on adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities

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

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

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

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

Teenagers abusing ADHD medication

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

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

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

News & Information for November 16-17, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Nov 13, 2019


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

Listen in @, Today @ 4 PM, NY Time

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

Or listen to the radio archive @

Or the TV archive @

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

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

Lavender promising for anxiety but evidence base needs to grow

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for November 15, 2019

The Outrage Machine: How social media fuels outrage 

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

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

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

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

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

Telepsychiatry helps reduce overprescribing of antipsychotics

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

How Health PEI is weaning dementia patients off antipsychotics

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

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

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

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

News & Information for November 14, 2019

Seniors with Alzheimer’s who take antipsychotics hospitalized more frequently

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

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

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


News & Information for November 13, 2019

The First Dr. Peter Breggin Hour on TV

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

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

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

Or listen to the archives @

Antidepressants polluting the water can change fish behaviour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National parks a boost to mental health worth trillions: study

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

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

Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect

What are child abuse and neglect?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for November 12, 2019

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

Meta: The Dark Psychology of Social Networks

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

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

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

Levels of Prozac polluting aquatic ecosystems disrupt behaviors of zebrafish 

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for November 11, 2019

Screening + drug treatment = increase in veteran suicides

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does temperature affect mental health?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for November 9-10, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 11.06.19

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

Does Poor Sleep Contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease?


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

More young New Zealanders using antidepressants

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

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

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

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

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

Researchers: Lurking on social media could lead to depressive symptoms

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

Are aspects of Twitter use associated with reduced depressive symptoms

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

Forest Bathing: Where nature becomes your therapist

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

More than a walk in the Maine woods

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


Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for November 8, 2019

Better tools needed to aid antidepressant discontinuation, researchers say

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

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

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

Scientists identify gut microbiome uniquely associated with obesity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for November 7, 2019

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

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

Physical activity offsets genetic risk for incident depression

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

Useless and Harmful Medical Practices


Forest bathing: The free cure for stress and anxiety?

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

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

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

News & Information for November 6, 2019

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

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

Raising Anti-Fragile Kids

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

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

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

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

 Antidepressant monotherapy in elderly linked to increased incident dementia

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

On the troubling trail of psychiatry’s pseudopatients stunt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for November 5, 2019

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

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

Doctors warn ‘gender affirmative’ treatments dangerous for children

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

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

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

Enriching the lives of seniors, one song at a time

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

Consumer Reports: The whole-body benefits of coffee

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

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

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

Robert Talisse, Overdoing Democracy


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

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for November 4, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metacognitive therapy may prevent depression relapse

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

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

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

UN calls for human rights-based approach to suicide prevention

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

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

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

News & Information for November 2-3, 2019

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

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Open Mic

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

Just 20 minutes of contact with nature lowers stress hormone levels

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

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

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

3 unexpected benefits of using mindfulness apps

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

The hard questions about young people and gender transitions

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

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

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

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

Sleep Experts Debunk 15 Sleep Myths


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

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


Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for November 1, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

News & Information for October 31, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 10.23.19

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

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

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

How much dog do you need for optimum health?

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

NIH fails to correct pattern of violating spending transparency law

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

Coffee consumption boosts health of gut microbiota, analysis finds

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

Doctor Lays Out Dangers Of Using Puberty Blockers On Children    


Four steps to conquering the psychological roadblocks to success and happiness

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

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

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

News & Information for October 30, 2019

Tipperary doctor Mary Ryan issues warning to women over antidepressants

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

Just thinking about bright objects changes the size of your pupils

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

Significantly fewer pregnant women take antidepressants

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

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

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


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

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

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

News & Information for October 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

Mirtazapine Withdrawal Using Tapering Strips – A Video Diary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for October 28, 2019

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

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

Should we use food to treat depression?

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

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

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

Prozac shows no benefit for autistic children with obsessive behaviors

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

Screen time linked to greater caffeine, sugar consumption among teens

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

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

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

The Antidepressant Fact Book – by Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for October 26-27, 2019

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

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

Sex differences in humor production ability: A meta-analysis

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

The lead scientist posted a tweet thread discussing those findings. 

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

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

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

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

Rigorous Study Finds Antidepressants Worsen Long-Term Outcomes

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

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

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

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for October 25, 2019

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

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

Peter R. Breggin

Why is it Almost Always Men Who Commit Violent Acts?

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

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

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

Benzodiazepines and z-drugs are prescribed more in poorer areas

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

Gut microbiome may have connection to mental health

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

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

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

Toxic Pssychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for October 24, 2019

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

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

Even the fetus has gut bacteria

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

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

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

5 survival tips to cope with these uncertain times

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

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

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

News & Information for October 23, 2019

Chronotherapy offers promising results in depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for October 22, 2019

More outdoors less online activity for kids

Drugs for trans kids a health risk, say doctors

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

Abandoned Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center still the creepiest

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

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

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

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

Dementia and depression following hormone suppression for prostate cancer

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

Could elder-care use more spirituality?

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

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

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

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

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

News & Information for October 21, 2019

Smartphones, Loneliness, and Depression in Teens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NICE guideline update acknowledges severe antidepressant withdrawal

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

The Benefits of Calorie Restriction for Longevity

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for October 19-20, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Oct 16, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

When mad voices are locked out of academia

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

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

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

What helps with the calming of dementia patients?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whether the drug is a sleeping pill, tranquilizer, stimulant, antidepressant, mood stabilizer, or antipsychotic, Your Drug May Be Your Pr