LIFE STYLE CAN CHANGE THE BRAIN

Jill Littrell is an Associate Professor at the Georgia State University in the School of Social Work.  Her Ph.D. is in Clinical Psychology.  Early in her career, she worked as a ward aide and then as a social worker in the state hospital in Nebraska.  After attaining her Ph.D., she worked as a psychologist in the Alcohol and Drug Dependency Department at CIGNA Health Plan.  During this time, she completed a two volume work on alcoholism.  Having been intrigued by the connections between mind and body, she pursued a Masters in Biology (Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry) while on faculty at Georgia State.  Much of her class work and laboratory experience was focused on Immunology.  She has published various papers on the links between behavior, disease, and immune system function as well as on the efficacy of antidepressants.  Littrell writes on research updates related to medications, diagnoses, ways to support natural resilience, and various trends in the mental health field.

 

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. Should Our Tax Dollars Be Spent on Promoting Drugs?

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June 10, 2014

As part of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government has made a commitment to integrate behavioral health with physical medicine. Physicians have saddled America with addiction to antidepressants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazpines. If the federal government decides that opiate addiction is ok, as they seem to have conceded, shouldn’t the question be “what is the cheapest and the safest opiate?” In Europe, heroin is an option right along with buprenorphine and methadone. It seems to me that the “back-door” legalization of opiates under the guise of “treatment” ought to at least be debated out in the open.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Opiates, Uncategorized

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. A Close Look at Andreasen et al.’s
Advice to Increase the Dosage of
Antipsychotics to Prevent
Brain Volume Reduction

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June 29, 2013

Research by Andreasen et al. published in American Journal of Psychiatry in June of 2013 reported that the dosage of antipsychotic medication correlated with the reduction in the cortex volume; higher dosage was associated with greater reduction. In that same article, the authors suggested that, since they found brain shrinkage correlated with duration of relapse, curtailing or preventing the relapse would probably decrease damage. Their suggested mechanism for shortening the relapse process was to prescribe more drugs. Before advising fellow physicians to increase the dosage of antipsychotic drugs to prevent brain volume reduction, it is important to show the following: first, demonstrate that symptoms, in fact, reflect the occurrence of a damaging process; second, demonstrate that any treatment intervention actually targets the damaging process itself and not just the downstream symptoms of this process.
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Categorized in: Antipsychotics, Blogs, Featured Blogs, Psychiatric Drugs, Research, Uncategorized

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. Talk Therapy Can Cause Harm, Too

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June 6, 2013

The Association for Psychological Science (APS) was founded twenty years ago by psychologists and neuroscientists who were dismayed by trends in the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA had lost its old single-minded focus on the search for empirically based answers to psychological questions. This may have followed from the fact that the APA’s membership encompassed an ever-larger percentage of practicing psychologists with many immediate, practical concerns. Yet it is these very clinicians who are in such dire need of empirically validated procedures. It might be time to summarize newer empirical literature that challenges the assumption that the mere expression of emotion is helpful.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Non-Drug Approaches, Recovery/Empowerment, Trauma/Distress, Uncategorized

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. Can a Profession Be any More Confused?

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March 28, 2013

Yesterday I attended psychiatry grand rounds, where Andy Miller presented his latest research. Andy has been a pioneer in the field of psychoneuroimmunology and an exponent for the view that major depression reflects systemic inflammation. (I have published a review of this literature recently in Frontiers in Psychology which is available for download).
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Categorized in: Adult, Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Blogs, Depression, Disorders, Featured Blogs, Immune Response, Psychiatric Drugs

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. Psychiatry Is Not the Only Branch of Medicine to Lose Its Soul to Pharma

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January 17, 2013

In the present climate, the truth proves elusive. Almost all clinical studies of various drugs are designed and funded by the pharmaceutical companies. Only the studies which support efficacy of a drug are published while the more numerous negative studies are rarely acknowledged. While companies are supposed to register the studies they are conducting so that planned timing of study endpoints are public knowledge, these requirements are often ignored.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. Commentary on the National Comorbidity Survey Replication

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January 10, 2013

An article in the New York Times reported on a publication in JAMA Psychiatry that presented the results of a reanalysis of data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement. The results suggest that the vast majority of those adolescents who might attempt suicide are already in treatment. This should discourage efforts to identify even more children at risk and get them in to treatment if the rationale for screening is to prevent suicide attempts.
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Categorized in: Blogs, Featured Blogs, Suicide

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. Better Living through Chemistry?

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June 11, 2012

Reading the article “Risky rise of good-grade pill” in the New York Times on Saturday once again raised the philosophical issue of how to respond to the burgeoning panoply of ways to alter the human condition. I teach a course …
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Categorized in: Blogs

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. The New York Times Magazine Article on Antidepressants

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April 25, 2012

In the Sunday New York Times Magazine, an article by Siddhartha Mukherjee entitled “Post-Prozac Nation” appeared. I eagerly read this article, wondering what position the author might take with regard to the anti-depressants. Mukherjee acknowledges that the initial belief depression …
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Categorized in: Adult, Antidepressants, Blogs, Depression, Disorders, Mind/Body, Non-Drug Approaches, Psychiatric Drugs, Trauma/Distress

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. Life for Psychiatrists after Reading Bob Whitaker: Let’s Take Back Substance Abuse Treatment

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April 24, 2012

An astounding development is the explosion in the numbers of substance abusers being diagnosed with Bipolar. I teach a class in Substance Abuse at Georgia State. Typically, this course draws persons in recovery. In the early 1990s, most were recovering …
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Categorized in: Adult, Antipsychotics, Bipolar, Blogs, Community, Disorders, Non-Drug Approaches, Psychiatric Drugs, Recovery/Empowerment, Substance Abuse/Addiction, Uncategorized

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. Response to 60 Minutes

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February 22, 2012

On February 19, 2012, Lesley Stahl’s “Treating depression: is there a placebo effect?” aired on CBS 60 Minutes. Stahl is to be commended for doing an excellent job. During the broadcast, Stahl interviewed Irving Kirsch, Michael Brown, and Michael Thase …
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Categorized in: Blogs

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. What Do Psychiatrists Say When They Talk to Each Other?

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February 18, 2012

Last week I attended a lecture presented at the Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds at a major Southeastern University.  The presenter, a psychiatrist employed in a student counseling center at the same university, discussed the historical evolution of the orientation …
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Categorized in: Blogs, Pregnancy & Birth Defects

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. The Role of Inflammation in the Success and Failure of Antidepressants

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February 6, 2012

The evidence is fast accumulating that systemic inflammation has a causative role in depression, or, at minimum, is a major factor in the chain of events leading to depression. Pioneer animal work was done by Robert Dantzer, Linda Watkins, and …
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Categorized in: Blogs

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. Bipolar Everywhere

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January 28, 2012

A recent dramatic rise in diagnoses of Bipolar has been documented (Moreno, Laje et al., 2007). Bipolar used to be a relatively rare event. When working at the state hospital during the 1970s, over a 7 year period, I recall only 4 or 5 patients with a bipolar diagnosis.
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Categorized in: Blogs

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. The Cure for Mood Disorders Is Dementia?

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January 22, 2012

Perhaps the most alarming current trend in psychiatry, documented by Domino and Schwartz (2008), is the rise in prescriptions for the class of drug called “atypical antipsychotics”, which include seroquel/quetiapine, abilify/aripiprazole, clozaril/clozapine, geodon/ziprasidone, invega/paliperidone, risperdal/risperidone, zyprexa/olanzapine. Initially, these drugs were …
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Categorized in: Blogs

Jill Littrell, Ph.D. Introducing Myself

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January 22, 2012

I’m an Associate Professor at the Georgia State University in the School of Social Work. Early in my career in the late 1960s and 1970s, I worked as a ward aide and then as a social worker in the state …
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Categorized in: Blogs