Recently, This Morning featured a story on depression, in which Dr. Chris Steele advised participants that their depression was due to a ‘chemical imbalance’ (despite obvious environmental explanations) and that antidepressants – possibly for life – were the solution. However both the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion and the medical solutions it implies, for which there has never been any evidence, are outdated and now known to be harmful. Our letter asks Dr. Steele to refrain from using information that cannot be scientifically substantiated, as doing so has serious implications for the health and well-being of the viewing audience – which may be in violation of broadcasting legislation. Full Article →
Antidepressants may be effective over the short term, but research is showing that treatment resistant depression has risen dramatically in the past 30 years; evidence that the drugs may be inducing chronic depression. Full Article →
From Scientific American: “A commercial sponsored by Pfizer, the drug company that manufactures the antidepressant Zoloft, asserts, “While the cause [of depression] is unknown, depression may be related to an imbalance of natural chemicals between nerve cells in the brain. Prescription Zoloft works to correct this imbalance.” Using advertisements such as this one, pharmaceutical companies have widely promoted the idea that depression results from a chemical imbalance in the brain . . . In reality, however, depression cannot be boiled down to an excess or deficit of any particular chemical or even a suite of chemicals. ‘Chemical imbalance is sort of last-century thinking. It’s much more complicated than that.’” (more…)
Alternet attributes America’s depression epidemic to corporations and right-wing politics, which feed our sense of learned helplessness, exploiting “the various ways that we all have to wait, endlessly wait, to get information and help from those institutions upon which we’re dependent. Waiting, often on the phone, drives most of us crazy.”
A recent paper argues that prescribing antidepressants shortly after the death of a loved one is problematic . . . and a few days later, a Harvard academic publicly suggests prescribing antidepressants FOR bereavement. Wait, what? Full Article →
Tanya Luhrmann writes in the NY Times that, although diagnosis and pathologization of human experience has increased, “there is reason to believe that mental illness is indeed increasing around the world, if only because urbanization is increasing. By 2010, for the first time in history, more than half the world’s population lived in cities. Cities are places of possibility: They are, as E. B. White said of New York, “the visible symbol of aspiration and faith, the white plume saying that the way is up.” But cities also break traditions and fracture families, and they breed psychiatric illness.”
The Daily Echo features “5 Rhythms” dance classes as an alternative treatment for depression. ”Based on methods developed by Gabrielle Roth in the 1970s, the sessions move through five different types of music or rhythm – flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness. The idea is to use movement as meditation and find inner expression.”
One of the roadblocks to recovery for those who suffer from depression is our culture’s tendency to stigmatize depression and other mental health disorders. After my first hospitalization, I remember the dilemma I faced in trying to explain my three-day absence to my employer. If I told the truth—that I was being treated for anxiety and depression—I stood a good chance of losing my job. Instead, I reported that I had been treated for insomnia at a sleep clinic. In another instance, a client of mine who worked as a nurse was petrified of telling her colleagues that she dealt with depression, but when she shared her diagnosis of cancer, they showered her with with love and support. Full Article →
The first time I tried to kill myself, I was 14. I won’t go into the indignity of being involuntarily locked up, time after time, until I satisfactorily convinced the staff that I wouldn’t harm myself or attempt suicide again. (I was lying.) The system taught me to lie, to hide my suicidal feelings in order to escape yet another round of dehumanizing lock-ups and “treatments.” Full Article →
Research from MIA blogger Jeffrey Lacasse finds that “at present, there exists no rigorous evidence to support the prescription of Ads (antidepressants) in bereavement. Yet, it is common for ADs to be prescribed off-label for con- ditions that do not have supporting RCT evidence.” Most bereaved parents prescribed psychiatric medications in response to perinatal/neonatal death continued to take them long-term.
Commentary in the American Journal of Psychiatry cautions that the “unbridled enthusiasm” about Ketamine as a “miracle cure” for depression “needs to be tempered by a more rational and guarded perspective,” noting that the drug is already being administered off-label in private psychiatry clinics without regulation by the FDA.
A “systematic review” of all outcome studies of patients with mood disorders, in the March issue of the Australia & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, finds that “the long-term outcome for patients with mood disorders in the predrug era was reasonably positive. Most patients recovered and the majority seemed to remain well after their recovery.” In the modern era, however, “the recurrence of mood episodes appears to have significantly increased.” The authors conclude that “These data . . . provide no comfort for those, including ourselves, who have believed that drugs provide an effective prophylactic treatment for at least a substantial minority of patients with affective disorders.”
Research has shown a correlation between schizophrenia and exposure to cat bites or scratches. This has been theorized to be due to the effects of Toxoplasmosis Gondii, a parasite that can cause changes in behavior, including a reduction of fear and an increase in impulsiveness. Popular Science considers research that extends this connection to depression, with speculation on other reasons that cat fellowship may correlate with changes in behavior.
Salon magazine reflects on “The Puzzling Reality . . . that human depression is increasing in an era when environmental conditions are relatively benign. The average citizen in Western society now lives longer, is less likely to starve, and enjoys considerably greater wealth than his sixteenth-century counterpart. Presumably these objective conditions for survival and reproduction would cause depression rates to fall, not rise to nearly one in five citizens.”
In a few days, I will turn 65. Aside from asking myself, “Where did the time go?” I am reminded that my becoming a senior citizen is a part of a greater phenomenon–the aging of the baby boomer generation. While much attention has been focused on the rise of dementia and Alzheimer’s that will accompany the graying of America, there exists another equally significant hazard of growing old in our culture – the increasing number of older Americans who are attempting suicide – and succeeding. Given that I have battled depression my entire life, this trend takes on personal significance for me. Full Article →
TMS is a psychiatric treatment that uses a rapidly alternating magnetic field to induce electric currents in the brain. These currents stimulate neurons, causing them to “fire.” When used repetitively, TMS is said to alter the excitability of the brain area that has been stimulated. In the psychiatric field, TMS is being used increasingly as a treatment for depression, particularly with so-called treatment-resistant clients. I Googled the string “TMS + depression” and got 1.35 million hits. So the idea is attracting attention. Full Article →
Recently, I have been the target of much wooing by my local Sunovion rep. I think he leaves messages for me almost weekly and he sends me missives – glossy brochures and reprints from major psychiatric journal. What is the subject of this attention? The drug – lurasidone (Latuda). Full Article →
Research from the Universities of Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford and King’s College find that quitting smoking is associated with reduced depression, anxiety & stress and improved mood & quality of life. ”The effect size seems as large for those with psychiatric disorders as those without,” the study concludes, “The effect sizes are equal or larger than those of antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders.”
MiA blogger Jeffrey Lacasse‘s study of psychiatric prescribing in response to perinatal/neonatal death (co-authored with Joanne Cacciatore) finds that 37% of participants in an online bereavement support community were prescribed meds. Of those, 80% were prescribed antidepressants, and 20% were prescribed benzodiazepines. 32% of prescriptions were written within 48 hours, 44% within a week and 75% within a month. Most of the prescriptions given shortly after the loss were prescribed by obstetricians or gynecologists, and most who were prescribed antidepressants ended up taking them long-term.
One day after the bodies of her son and estranged husband were discovered on December 18 of last year, Christina Schumacher was declared “a danger to herself and others” and hospitalized against her will, without a judge’s review. She remains there still. ”I am not ill,” she told the Burlington Free Press, “I am simply a mother who is grieving the tragic loss of her young son . . . This is my journey, and in no way is it up to anyone to judge how I mourn.” A Vermont Superior Court judge is expected to review the clinical order this month.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins, publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed the research literature on mindfulness meditation to find that it is effective in addressing negative dimensions of psychological stress. ”For depression, we found a roughly 10 to 20 percent improvement in depressive symptoms compared to the placebo groups. This is similar to the effects of antidepressants in similar populations,” says lead author Madhav Goyal.
A study of 1,128 adults drawn from Canada’s National Population Health Survey finds that more than three quarters (77%) recovered from depression in 2 years, and nearly all (94%) had recovered by 12 years. However, a history of adverse childhood experiences predicted a longer time to remission. The study appears in January’s Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
A study in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology finds that in a sample of 641 adopted adolescents, an increase in the level of ADHD symptoms was predicted by the duration of exposure to early attachment deprivation.