A 33-year controlled, prospective study conducted as a collaboration by researchers in New York, Mexico, and Verona, Italy found that men diagnosed with ADHD as children had significantly higher rates of obesity as adults. The causal link, however – whether a common neurobiological dysfunction underlies both ADHD and obesity, or a tendency toward impulsiveness, or an effect of ADHD medication – is unclear.
What makes the DSM so pernicious is that it is a cultural document whose influence transcends not only psychiatric practice but also the Western civilization from which it originates. Each revision of the DSM rescripts and reimagines how we make sense of our experiences, reinterprets what thoughts, feelings and behaviors are socially sanctioned, and ultimately what it means to be human. Full Article →
May 8th in the USA Today: “WASHINGTON (AP) — Wrigley says it is taking a new caffeinated gum off the market temporarily as the Food and Drug Administration investigates the safety of added caffeine.” Really? Major Tranquilizers, Amphetamines, Benzodiazepines, and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors have all been approved by the FDA for the treatment of “mental illness.” These drugs are being prescribed to youth, some as young as 3 and 4 years of age. My Big League Chew is more dangerous than Uncle Jim’s Seroquel or my big brother’s Adderall? Full Article →
For everyone who goes on psychiatric drugs, the reason comes back to power imbalances in their personal life. Women who’s husbands “make all of the money” and have an unequal share of the power, kids who’s parents have power over them—frequently people who have less money and security, therefore less platform for authority than those around them. Mental illness is not in fact an illness but an unequal division of power and sense of security in a social group. Full Article →
At the University of Minnesota, the answer is apparently $1,446. If harmless clerical errors were to blame for oddities like this, that fact should be easy to clarify simply by looking at the relevant documents. But if there are systematic issues with the administration of clinical trials that makes it possible to bill for a visit with a dead subject, those issues would be important for other universities and private trial sites as well. Full Article →
Treating one disease by causing another is actually a pretty mainstream therapeutic strategy in medicine – and especially psychiatry. The idea is to use a milder or temporary disease to treat a more severe or permanent one. In a recent development neuroleptic/antipsychotic drugs are being given to tens/hundreds of thousands of over-active children (aka ‘bipolar’). Parkinson’s disease certainly puts a stop to hyperactivity!
A study of the Swedish medical birth registry, conducted by researchers from Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S.A., found a 3.3X greater risk of autism in the offspring of women reporting antidepressant use during pregnancy. The researchers, however, urge caution as the results explain only a small percentage of the prevalence of autism.
The Onion satirizes the ADHD “epidemic”: “‘As horrible as the diagnosis was, it was a relief to finally know,’ said Beverly. ‘At least we knew we weren’t bad parents. We simply had a child who was born with a medical disorder.’”
Since I left the psychiatric prescribing trenches and came south for the winter, I’ve been staying in a beach town within driving distance of a technology metropolis. I take breaks from my writing and walk to the beach. There, I meet and talk with the winners of the American dream. They are intelligent, highly educated and financially successful. They take their beach vacations here. Full Article →
Autism rates are on the rise, with the latest report from the US Centers for Disease Control showing 1 in 50 children to be affected. Prozac, the first of the SSRI antidepressants, was launched in 1987 and sales have risen since then. Estimates are that up to 13% of US pregnancies are exposed (or around 500,000 US pregnancies per year). Available scientific data from animal and human studies raise serious concerns that exposure to SSRIs during pregnancy damages the developing brain and may cause neurodevelopmental abnormalities, including autism. Full Article →
In today’s NYTs there is an excellent article by Alan Schwartz and Sara Cohen on the rapid rise of the ADHD Diagnosis. The series of articles by Schwartz is especially refreshing given that for decades the Times reporters, for the most part, have ignored the critics. The Times quotes several promoters of the ADHD diagnosis who now have second thoughts. It is a tad humorous that the Times chooses to publish the confessions of those who promoted the diagnosis, rather than mention the critics who were apparently correct all along. Full Article →
The mother of a man charged with trespassing for leaping from a monorail into a tiger’s den at the Bronx Zoo, where he was mauled, says that he had been planning the leap for about year – since he first started taking Adderall.
What is “healthy” spirituality and what supports it? Is it our human right to question our spiritual orientations, to experience transcendence and dark nights of the soul? Is it not normal to go through strange and transforming processes in our becoming who we are? Is it not our right to have significant questions about God or to get bold ideas and big feelings about the world and our place in it? Full Article →
BMC Psychiatry offers an examination of the history of childhood abuse among 141 patients with bipolar disorder found that fins “childhood trauma is associated with a more severe course of bipolar illness… By using specific trauma factors (physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse/neglect) the associations become both more precise, and diverse.”
In a study of 6,767 reports of antidepressant trials in juveniles treated for depressive and anxiety disorders, the risk of psychopathological behavioral or mood elevation was 3.5x greater with antidepressants than with placebo. The authors (which include Giovanni Fava of the University of Bologna and Ross Baldessarini of Harvard Medical School) urge “particular caution and monitoring for potential risk of future bipolar disorder.”
A report from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project finds that hospital stays for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children aged 5-9 increased 696% from 1997 to 2010, 475% in children aged 10-14, and 345% in those aged 15-17. By 2010, mood disorders had become the most frequent principal diagnosis in children aged 1-17.
A North Carolina study of 1,420 participants finds higher rates of agoraphobia (4.6x), generalized anxiety disorder (2.7x), and panic disorder (3.1x) among victims of bullying. Among those who had been both bullies and victims, the study found higher rates of depression (4.8x), panic disorder (14.5x), agoraphobia (26.7x) and suicidality (18.5x) in both childhood and young adulthood. Results appeared in JAMA Psychiatry.
The humor newspaper The Onion satirizes the conversion of transient human emotions into lifelong illnesses, reporting that “Shortly after losing grip of a helium-filled balloon and watching it float into the air above the San Diego Zoo Tuesday, local child Caleb Tremont, 3, reportedly began a battle with chronic depression that will last for the rest of his life.”
Japanese engineers have devised a robotic rat that bullies laboratory rats into a state of depression, creating a model of human depression they deem suitable for testing antidepressants. The research, published this month in Advanced Robotics, reports that continuous attacks in young and intermittent attacks (in response to movement) in older rats is most effective.
A recent New York Times front-page story about ADHD care gone awry concluded with disturbing quotes from a an information session that was held in Norfolk, VA last October. “ADD and Loving It?!” was sponsored by Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD)—the leading advocacy group for ADHD. The story raises questions our country’s love affair with ADHD by detailing the tragic death of an aspiring medical student from the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area who became addicted to ADHD drugs. Full Article →
A prospective study of 2,422 children from 2004 to 2012 found that children whose parents reported Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and depressive symptoms were 4x more likely to have a diagnosis of ADHD, even after adjusting for other variables. Children of parents who reported depressive symptoms alone were 2x more likely to have been prescribed medication.
The New York Times, in an extraordinarily lengthy front-page article, chronicles the descent of popular college class president, athlete, and aspiring medical student into an ADHD diagnosis, Adderall addiction, psychosis, and suicide.