“Are Anxiety Drugs Making Us Less Eager To Lend A Helping Hand?”

For the Huffington Post, David Freeman asks “By tamping down anxious feelings, could it be that these so-called “anxiolytic” drugs are blunting our empathy and rendering us less willing to lend a helping hand to those in need?”

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Effects of Exercise on Depression Underestimated, Review Finds

A new meta-analysis finds that the large antidepressant effects of exercise may have been underestimated in previous reviews. This latest report, published this month in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, examines twenty-five previous studies and concludes that regular exercise has a large and significant antidepressant effect in people diagnosed with moderate and severe depression.

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“Antipsychotic Medication for Children Could Have Lasting Effects, Research Suggests”

Neuroscientists have just released the results of a study on the long-term use of antipsychotic drugs in children. The growing brain adapts to the drugs, which block receptors, by creating more receptors, which can lead to more symptoms, including hyperactivity, depression, and anxiety, according to the study author, Michael De Santis. "[This] would then cause an opposite effect of what the drugs were used for," he said.

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“Florida Doctor Pleads Guilty to Fraud — Years After Complaints About His Prescribing”

Charles Ornstein at ProPublica reports on how long it took regulators to take action against the top prescriber of antipsychotic drugs in Florida’s Medicaid program. “Questions about the doctors’ prescribing were first brought to light by Ken Kramer, a private investigator in Clearwater, Florida, who runs a website that compiles public records on psychiatrists. He complained to Florida’s Medicaid fraud unit in 2007 that Mendez-Villamil appeared to be prescribing a disproportionate amount of the antipsychotic Abilify to children.”

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How Can We Address the Corruption Problem in Clinical Trials?

Recently, major researchers, including David Healy, Jon Juriedini, Mickey Nardo, and their colleagues, have brought a great deal of attention to issues of corruption in psychiatric research through their reanalysis of industry-funded trials for psychiatric drugs. This week, fellow reformer and former chair of Duke University's psychiatry department, Bernard Carroll offers a proposal for addressing these issues through the independent analysis of clinical trial data.

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This Ranking of the 10 Most Harmful Drugs May Surprise You

From Sarah Beller at the influence: “Two leading UK health organizations— the Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health–have just made an unprecedented call for decriminalization of all personal possession and use of drugs. In their report, “Taking a New Line on Drugs,” they list the top 10 most harmful drugs, and in what ways each specific drug is most harmful.”

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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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Abolishing Forced Treatment in Psychiatry is an Ethical Imperative

Forced treatment in psychiatry cannot be defended, neither on ethical, legal or scientific grounds. It has never been shown that forced treatment does more good than harm, and it is highly likely that the opposite is true. We need to abolish our laws about this, in accordance with the United Na­tions Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which virtually all countries have ratified.
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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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Rising Rates of Suicide: Are Pills the Problem?

If you’ve read recent reports that state “US suicide rates surge to a 30 year high,” you might first justify the reality with the fact that things feel very wrong in our world today. On a personal, national, and planetary level, people are suffering to survive and the distress is coming from all sides – medical to economic to existential. But you probably also wonder why more people are choosing this permanent and self-destructive path, and feel compelled to submit to seemingly logical appeals to provide these individuals more help and greater access to treatment. Surprise: that may be the last thing our population of hopeless and helpless needs. Life’s inevitable challenges are not the problem. It’s the drugs we use that are fueling suicide.
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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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“If Antidepressants Don’t Work Well, Why Are They So Popular?”

“The true balance of risk versus benefit for people taking these kinds of antidepressants will probably only emerge when independent researchers have access to all the data from clinical trials – something manufacturers of these drugs are still resisting.”

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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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Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy Increases Risk of Preterm Birth, Latest Review Finds

Antidepressant use during pregnancy has been associated with a number of fetal and developmental complications. The latest meta-analysis of the effect of SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy adds to this growing body of research. The review found an increased risk for preterm births that remained significant even when compared to women who were also diagnosed with depression but did not take antidepressants.

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New Video For World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day

In a new video for World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day (W-BAD) people from all over the world share about the iatrogenic harm they sustained from taking benzodiazepines as prescribed.

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“Tasty and Easy to Take, A New ADHD Drug Alarms Some Psychiatrists”

For STAT, Meghana Kashavan reports on a new, candy-flavored, chewable, fruity, amphetamine drug on the market for children diagnosed with ADHD. “It’s a move that sanctions ‘an orally disintegrating amphetamine for kids by the morally disintegrating FDA,’ said Dr. Alexander Papp, an adult psychiatrist affiliated with University of California, San Diego. ‘What’s next?’ Papp scoffed. ‘Gummy bears?’”

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“Focus on Opioids May Obscure Other Drug Issues”

“The war against the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts may be pushing another potential public health crisis into the shadows,” the Metro West Daily News reports. Anti-anxiety drugs known as benzodiazepines, like Ativan, Klonopin, and Xanax, were involved in over thirty percent of all opioid-related overdose deaths in 2014, according to a new CDC report.

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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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Moving Forward in the Science of Psychiatric Medication Discontinuation/Reduction

This week Live & Learn launched a research study on the experience of people labeled with mental disorders who have tried to stop taking psychiatric medications. This project — the Psychiatric Medication Discontinuation/Reduction (PMDR) Study — aims to understand the process of coming off psychiatric medications in order to better support those who choose to do so. The study seeks to answer the question: What helps people stop their psychiatric medications? What gets in the way of stopping?
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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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“Lawmakers Accuse HHS of Delaying FDA Guidelines for Off-Label Marketing”

Ed Silverman reports for STAT’s Pharmalot that high-ranking congressmen are accusing the Department of Health and Human Services of deliberately delaying new guidelines on the marketing of drugs off-label, or for unproven uses. In the absence of new guidelines, some worry that court rulings will end up determining policy. Meanwhile, the FDA has expressed concern that marketing claims not backed up by sufficient evidence can lead to public health problems and raise health care costs.

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