“In America, medication is becoming almost as much a staple of childhood as Disney and McDonald’s,” writes Sarah Boseley in the Guardian. In this piece photographer Baptiste Lignel follows six boys and girls to examine the long-term effects of these drugs.
The results of epidemiological studies of the prevalence of hallucinations strongly imply that psychosis and schizophrenia exist on a spectrum, according to the Scientific American. This suggests “that the standard treatment for a psychotic episode might be due for an overhaul.”
Different types of child abuse have equivalent psychological effects, according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry. It has previously been assumed that emotional and verbal abuse could have different or less harmful impact on a child’s psychology than physical or sexual abuse, but research now suggests that these forms of abuse can be just as damaging.
Reuters covers a new study in JAMA Psychiatry that suggests that children exposed to physical abuse and emotional abuse suffer from similar psychological and behavioral problems. “Even though doctors and parents often believe physical or sexual abuse is more harmful than emotional mistreatment or neglect, the study found children suffered similar problems regardless of the type of maltreatment endured.”
ServiceNet, a mental health and human service agency in western Massachusetts, received a three year, two million dollar grant to launch a program designed to support young adults who have recently experienced their first episode of psychosis. The Prevention and Recovery Early Psychosis (PREP) program is funded by the Massachusetts department of mental health and is designed to treat psychosis as a symptom, not an illness, resulting from other health problems, substance abuse, trauma, or extreme stress.
Researchers recently completed a first of its kind, large-scale international survey of attitudes about mental health and they were surprised by the results. According to their analysis published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders, people in developed countries, like the United States, are more likely to assume that ‘mental illnesses’ are similar to physical illnesses and biological or genetic in origin, but they are also much less likely to think that individuals can overcome these challenges and make a full recovery.
In the third major verdict of its kind, drug giant Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay Nicholas Murray, a 21-year-old Maryland man who grew female breasts while taking the antipsychotic Risperdal. The company failed to warn doctors, patients, and regulators of the risk of abnormal breast development in young males and now faces about 5,400 lawsuits involving the drug.
The Washington Examiner reports that the manufacturer of the antipsychotic Abilify is seeking FDA approval for digitized pills that would alert doctors if patients fail to take their drugs on schedule.
The German news agency DW features a video report on whether cannabidiol, an active substance derived from marijuana, can help relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia.
New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, relates the story of Andrew Francesco, a boy who began taking Ritalin at age five and died from complications with Seroquel when he was fifteen. His father, a former pharmaceutical industry executive, reveals the industry’s greed in his memoir “Overmedicated and Undertreated.” Now the industry is pushing for a first-amendment right to market its drugs for off-label uses.
I was a psychiatrist who participated in the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode Early Treatment Program (RAISE ETP). Although I welcomed the positive headlines that heralded the study’s results, the reports left me with mixed feelings. What happened to render the notion that talking to people about their experiences and helping them find jobs or go back to school is something novel?
Robert Neugeboren, who “spent most of his adult life in institutions, often subject to isolation, physical punishment and numbing medication,” was “a celebrity of sorts in the world of the 'mentally ill' [sic]: a survivor of the horrors of mistreatment, a case history for those who point to the positive effects of kindness and talk therapy, and, perhaps most of all, the embodiment of the bottomless mystery of the human mind.”
In a Science Update, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that steps are already being taken by Medicaid services to implement “coordinated specialty care” (CSC) in response to the RAISE study released last week. “The RAISE initiative has shown that coordinated specialty care for first episode psychosis is better than the standard care offered in community clinics. However, covering the cost of coordinated specialty care can be challenging. When Medicaid agrees to pay for effective treatment programs, patients in need benefit.”
Last Tuesday, The New York Times and several other outlets (including Mad In America) reported on the highly-touted results of a study on psychosocial treatment for people with first-episode psychosis. Now, claims made about the study, which the ‘Times called “the most rigorous trial to date,” are coming under increased scrutiny.
Writing on his 1 Boring Old Man blog, Dr. Mickey Nardo reflects on the media frenzy around the RAISE study and asks why the prescription data has not been released. He adds skepticism about the political motives of the potentially overblown results, which he sees as a clear push for increased mental health funding.
A California jury ruled that Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical and a psychiatrist are responsible for the death of 25-year-old Leo Liu. During a clinical trial for Risperdal, Liu died of a heart injury that was “further complicated” by the drug and ignored by the study doctors. Janssen was found 70% responsible for Liu’s death and ordered to pay $5.6 million to the family.
Yesterday, the New York Times reported that schizophrenia patients in an experimental treatment program (RAISE) who experienced better outcomes had been on lower doses of antipsychotics than normal. However, the article published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on Tuesday did not divulge any data on the varying antipsychotic drug doses in the different study groups.
Results of a large government-funded study call into question current drug-only approaches to treating people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The study, which the New York Times called “by far the most rigorous trial to date conducted in the United States,” found that patients who received increased drug counseling along with individual talk therapy, family training, and support for employment and education experienced a greater reduction in symptoms, were more likely to resume work and school, and reported a higher quality of life than those receiving current standard treatments.
In response to the excellent series of Risperdal articles by Steve Brill in the Huffington Post, Shezad Malik MD JD writes in the Legal Examiner that “Johnson & Johnson is exposed to more than 1,300 gynecomastia personal injury and product liability lawsuits over the failure to warn about Risperdal gynecomastia side effects in boys.” He adds that “as of today, there are over 10,000 Risperdal unfiled claims waiting in the wings.”
Writing for CounterPunch, Paris Williams writes that when an individual is experiencing what has been termed “psychosis,” it is important to recognize that this may also be the manifestation of a breakdown in their larger social groups, the family, society, and even the species. “Although these anomalous perceptions and beliefs are often exaggerated or distorted to some degree,” he writes. “Perhaps it’s time we recognize the shadowy truths so often contained within them, and appreciate that such individuals can serve a very important role in our collective survival by acting as our canaries in the coal mine, helping us to develop insight into our impending breakdown.”
Journalist Emma Reynolds profiles Amanda Waegeli, Ron Coleman, Nathan Grixli and Lyn Mahboub about their experiences coming to the Hearing Voices Network (HVN). HVN was established ten years ago in Australia and provided a support group that encouraged people to listen to their voices rather than trying to block them out. The group now operates in 25 countries.
The University of Minnesota recently announced that it is ending the controversial practice of recruiting study participants from patients involuntarily being held in their psychiatric unit. In a commentary for Minnesota’s Star Tribune, bioethicist and MIA contributor Carl Elliot reports that the university has still not apologized to the patient who spoke out against this practice. Instead, “the university has done its best to discredit him.”
New research is investigating how “poverty reduction promotes cognitive and brain development.” Kimberly Noble, a professor of neuroscience at Teachers College, Columbia University, writes in the Washington Post of her plans to run a large clinical trial involving cash payments to low-income families. She hopes that the study will be able to “estimate the impact of these cash supplements on children’s cognitive, emotional and brain development, as well as the effect on family functioning.”
Individuals diagnosed with psychotic disorders have an earlier onset of psychosis if they have previously been exposed to prescription stimulants, according to new research currently in press in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
New data on the effects of social support after the onset of psychosis suggests that patients with intense social support function better than those without such help, but than once supports are removed the effects eventually diminish.
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