Call For Abstracts: Philosophical Perspectives on Critical Psychiatry

The Association for Advancement in Philosophy and Psychiatry is issuing a call for abstracts, with a particular interest in submissions from service users. The 29th annual meeting, to be held next May 20th to 21st , 2017 in San Diego, California, will feature keynote presentations from MIA contributors Joanna Moncrieff and Nev Jones, among others.

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New Study Finds Brain Changes in Newborns Exposed to Antidepressants

A first of its kind neuroscience study, published this month in Cerebral Cortex, found changes in the brain electrical activity of infants exposed to SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy. The changes are associated with less-organized communication between the brain’s hemispheres and are comparable to the effects found in previous animal studies. The researchers call for more critical evaluations of the prescription of antidepressants during pregnancy and suggest that non-pharmacologic and therapeutic alternatives should be the preferred treatment.

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Many Foster Kids Are Still Being Prescribed Antipsychotic Drugs

Many experts expressed concern when the rate of antipsychotic prescriptions to children in foster care showed a rapid increase, peaking in 2008, and new recommendations and policies have tried to curb the use of these drugs. While the rate has plateaued, a new study points out that the “new normal” prescription levels are still dangerously high. The data reveals that almost one in ten children in foster care are currently being prescribed antipsychotic drugs with dangerous side-effects, many for diagnoses like ‘ADHD’ and disruptive behavior.

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JAMA Review Questions Use of Ritalin for ‘ADHD’

In December, MIA  reported on a systematic Cochrane review on the research for the safety and effectiveness of Ritalin (methylphenidate) that found substantial bias in previous studies and a lack of quality evidence. Major medical associations, however, recommend this drug as a treatment for children and teens diagnosed with ‘ADHD.’ In a major step,  the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has issued a “Clinical Evidence Synopsis” that reiterates the Cochrane findings and calls for guidelines to be reevaluated.

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Air Pollution Linked to Mental Health Problems in Children

A new study, published in BMJ Open-Access this week, found a significant link between the level of air pollution in a community and the mental health of the children living there. After controlling for socio-economic status and other potential variables, researchers in Sweden discovered a strong association between the concentration of air pollution in a neighborhood and the amount of ‘antipsychotic’ and psychiatric drugs prescribed to children. The link remained strong even at pollution levels well below half of what is considered acceptable by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Well-Being Therapy: A Guide to Long-term Recovery

If a patient has high cholesterol or sugar, the doctor may prescribe a drug to lower what is too high, but he/she generally adds some suggestions: for instance to avoid certain types of food, to do more physical activity, to refrain from smoking. But if someone has a low mood and sees medical help, the doctor–particularly if he or she is a psychiatrist–will likely just prescribe a drug and not encourage any “self-therapy.” The problem with his approach to care is that psychiatric drugs, even when they are properly prescribed, may help very little in the long run and create a number of additional problems
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NBC’s ‘Bitter Pill’ To Cover Antipsychotic Overmedication

As part of NBC's 'On Assignment' series reporter Kate Snow took a closer look at the prescribing of antipsychotic drugs "off-label" to children. The story focuses on Steven Francesco, a former drug company executive whose son died suddenly while taking antipsychotics. Originally planned to air on Sunday, June 12th the episode is now being rescheduled.

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“A Poor Brain is as Worthy as a Rich Brain: Psychotherapy’s Privilege Problem”

“Researchers argue poor communities and communities of colour face an inordinate amount of suffering and trauma, by virtue of their positioning at the very bottom of the US’s deeply unequal socioeconomic and racial ladder.”

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Major Review Finds Antidepressants Ineffective, Potentially Harmful for Children and Teens

In a large review study published this week in The Lancet, researchers assessed the effectiveness and potential harms of fourteen different antidepressants for their use in children and adolescents. The negative results, familiar to MIA readers, are now making major headlines.

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Dateline NBC to Cover Child Psychiatric Overmedication Epidemic This Sunday

This Sunday, June 12 at 7pm (EDT) on NBCs Dateline will cover MIA author Steve Francesco's book, Overmedicated and Undertreated: How I Lost My Only Son to Today's Toxic Children's Mental Health Industry. A former pharmaceutical company executive, Francesco's tells the sad story of his son's experience with the mental health system and is a moving indictment of the psychopharmaceutical industry.

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“Can Neuroscience Understand Donkey Kong, Let Alone a Brain?”

The Atlantic covers an experiment by two researchers who tried to use neuroscience techniques to understand the working of an old microprocessor. “Forget attention, emotion, learning, memory, and creativity; using the techniques of neuroscience, could Jonas and Kording comprehend Donkey Kong? No. They couldn’t. Not even close.”

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Smoking in Pregnancy Linked to Risk of Schizophrenia Diagnosis in Later Life

In the first study of its kind, researchers from Finland found the “most definitive evidence to date” that smoking during pregnancy is associated with the eventual diagnosis of schizophrenia in offspring.  After controlling for other potential variables, the study, published ahead of print in The American Journal of Psychiatry, revealed a 38% increased odds of developing symptoms diagnosed as schizophrenia in young adults who were exposed to high levels of nicotine in utero.

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European Expert Group Calls for Investment in Community Based Services

The European Commission (EC) recently published its 2016 country-specific recommendations (CSRs) to the Member States. Following positive statements on the way social care and support should be provided in the last few years by the European Commission, the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-Based Care (EEG) welcomes several recommendations promoting quality care and support and access to employment and inclusive education for disadvantaged groups. Nonetheless, the overall focus on austerity will be detrimental to the transition to community-based services in Europe if no safeguards are made available for public investment in this area.

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Study Finds Racial and Class Discrimination in Psychotherapy

Are psychotherapists less likely to accept patients that are working class or black? According to a new study from the American Sociological Association, the answer is yes. The study, published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, found that therapists in New York City were less likely to offer appointments to patients who were perceived to be black or lower working-class.

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What Would a Trauma-Informed Society Look Like?

Imagine if we, as a society, started recognizing trauma, pain, grief, fear, the need for connection and understanding, and oppression without defensiveness or denial. What if, hypothetically, we saw the signs in people who were “defiant,” “withdrawn,” “oppositional,” “depressed,” “manic,” or otherwise as desperate pleas to have their needs met, and stopped telling them they were sick for doing so? What would a society that actually encouraged expression of emotion, compassion, and empathy look like?
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Undisclosed Financial Conflicts Endemic in Clinical Practice Guidelines

While there has been a recent push to account for financial conflicts of interest in medical research, less attention has been paid to organizations that produce clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) that offer official treatment recommendations to doctors and providers. A new analysis published this week in the journal PLOS Medicine reveals that such organizations are often rife with financial conflicts of interest with biomedical companies and that these conflicts are often undisclosed. According to the study, only one-percent of the guidelines disclosed the organization’s financial relationships with companies and only half of all guidelines disclosed the financial conflicts held by individual members of the organizations.

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Eat Breathe Thrive: Chelsea Roff on Eating Disorders, Trauma, and Healing with Yoga and Community Supports

Chelsea Roff is the Founder and Director of Eat Breathe Thrive (EBT), a non-profit with an inspired mission to bring yoga, mindfulness, and community support to people struggling with negative body image and disordered eating. I reached out to Chelsea to learn more about her life and organization, which she writes, “…is like AA for people with food and body image issues, plus yoga and meditation.” Chelsea shared her journey from life as a patient to yogi, author, and innovative community organizer. With her permission, you can find this interview below.
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Despite Official Recommendations, Young Children Are Still Receiving Drugs Instead of Therapy for ‘ADHD’

In 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued guidelines recommending therapy over stimulant drugs as the primary treatment for children diagnosed with ‘ADHD.’ New research from the CDC reveals, however, that children between ages 2 and five are still prescribed medications before receiving the recommended therapy or psychological services. Overall, the researchers found that 75% were being prescribed “ADHD’ drugs while no more than 55% received psychological treatments. Incredibly, among those on private insurances, the percentage of children receiving psychological services for ‘ADHD’ showed no increase following the 2011 recommendations.

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Nutrition, Sleep, and Mental Health

It was somewhat surprising 15+ years ago when Bonnie first began to be challenged (by psychiatrists in particular, who are always being asked about adverse side effects) to answer this question: what are the side effects of taking a broad-spectrum formula? In all these ensuing years, the answer has not changed from her first observations: people repeatedly tell us that in addition to improved mental health and cognitive clarity, they sleep better and they experience relief of constipation. Now, finally, we have evidence for the first of those two ‘side effects’ in the form of an excellent study
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Researcher Urges Caution When Applying Genetics to Psychiatry

In a review editorial for the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, neurobiology researcher Steven Dubovsky from the University at Buffalo argues against the adoption of genetic tests in psychiatry. He calls on colleagues to resist the pressures to “appear scientific”and support industry marketing by critically examining any new genetic findings.

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Illness Inflation: Expanded Medical Definitions Create More Patients

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has issued a watchdog report titled “Illness Inflation” that examines how new medical conditions are often the product of industry groups aiming to create a market for expensive new drugs. "There are powerful interests that want the numbers to be inflated," said Allan Horwitz, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University and author of "Creating Mental Illness." "All of these estimates push the numbers upward."

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Effective Tactics for the “Rehumanizing Resistance”: Real Politics 101, Part Two

In Part Two, I discuss strategy and tactics for the Rehumanizing Resistance, including: (1) Traditional, Personal, and Underground Politics; (2) Direct Action and Confrontation: When It Can and Cannot Succeed (3) Organizing: Taking Advantage of the Current Cultural Climate; (4) Alliances and Coalitions; and (5) Film and Media. In Part One, I discussed how the Resistance has been winning scientific battles but losing the war against the expansion of influence of First-Order Psychiatry (which includes American Psychiatric Association and Big Pharma), and how this is due in large part to the First-Order’s effective political tactics and the Resistance’s political naivety.
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Please Join Groundbreaking Research on Psychiatric Medications

Psychiatric medications such as antipsychotics and antidepressants account for a huge number of published research studies. This existing research, however, is almost exclusively constrained within a medical model approach, purporting to evaluate medications as treatment for biological brain disorders, and designing studies accordingly. The disease, and how medications presumably affect it, is at the center — with pharmaceutical company financial interests not far behind. That paradigm is starting to change.
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Does Your Child Have ‘ADHD’? It Might Depend On Your Doctor

A study published in the journal Pediatrics reveals large differences from one pediatrician to the next when it comes to diagnosing and prescribing drugs for ‘ADHD.’ The researchers found that the percentage of children being diagnosed with ‘ADHD’ varied from as high as 16% of patients at some offices to as little as 1% of patients at others. The data also revealed significant but lower variability in the pediatric diagnosis of anxiety and depression.

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Rising Prescriptions, Rising Disability: Video from the UK Parliament

Mental health campaigner Chrys Muirhead’s blog features video from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence event on 11 May 2016 at Westminster. “Robert Whitaker, the Pulitzer-shortlisted science journalist and author, presented global prescribing and disability data, as well as research which shows how long-term use of psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants, can lead to worse outcomes for patients.”

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