The Dopamine Hypothesis of Schizophrenia – Version III

The Division of Clinical Psychology of the British Psychological Society published a paper titled Understanding Psychosis and SchizophreniaThe central theme of the paper is that the condition known as psychosis is better understood as a response to adverse life events rather than as a symptom of neurological pathology. The paper was wide-ranging and insightful and, predictably, drew support from most of us on this side of the issue and criticism from psychiatry.  Section 12 of the paper is headed “Medication” and under the subheading “Key Points” you’ll find this quote: “[Antipsychotic] drugs appear to have a general rather than a specific effect: there is little evidence that they are correcting an underlying biochemical abnormality.”
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Psychedelic Use Associated with Reductions in Suicidal Tendencies

People who have taken a psychedelic drug at least once in their lives have significantly less suicidal thinking and are less likely to attempt suicide than the general population, according to a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. More →

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From Surviving to Thriving: Unleashing Creativity

There were days that I’d wake up and all I could do was cry for no particular reason, just another miserable day of withdrawal. However, the idea of taking photos would get me out of the house. Especially on those days, the absolutely only thing that would get me to move at all was the idea of taking photos. One particular day, I was just crying, crying, crying, and as soon as I got to a beautiful spot that I loved, I stopped crying, took photos, and felt at peace. I even found that the days I felt the worst were the days I took the best photos.
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European Medicines Agency Calls for Suspending Generic Forms of Four Common Psychiatric Drugs

The European Medicines Agency has called for the suspension of sales in all of Europe of many commonly used generic drugs, including at least four widely used psychiatric medications, after uncovering corrupt practices in the regulatory approval processes for the drugs. More →

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Quality of Relationship to Doctor Significantly Improves Antidepressant Efficacy

The more that patients feel that they have a high-quality relationship with their prescribing physician, the more likely that they will regard their own responses to antidepressants as positive, according to a study in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. The team of Australian and UK reseachers also identified a host of other social factors that seem to improve antidepressant response. More →

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Evidence Lacking for Antidepressant Safety in Nursing Mothers

Sertraline and paroxetine may be somewhat safer for the infants of nursing mothers than other SSRI antidepressants, but generally there is far too little information to go on, reported two Italian medical researchers in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental. More →

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Smoking Cessation Drug Suspected in 30 Suicides in Canada

Since 2007 in Canada, the smoking cessation drug Champix (Chantix) "is suspected of playing a major role in the deaths of 44 patients — 30 of them by suicide," reported the Vancouver Sun. "The Pfizer drug has also been linked to more than 1,300 incidents of suicide attempts or thoughts, depression, and aggression/anger across the country in the past seven years." More →

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Educating Psychiatrists and Patients Does Not Reduce Polypharmacy or Obesity

Educating psychiatrists about appropriate prescribing guidelines for patients with schizophrenia did not reduce the incidence of inappropriate prescribing, according to a study in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. In addition, educating the same psychiatrists and patients about healthy lifestyle habits did not reduce levels of obesity in the patients. More →

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Antidepressants Seem to Increase Heart Disease in the Elderly

Depressed elderly people are more likely to suffer heart disease not because of their depression, but apparently due to antidepressant medications, according to a study published in Psychological Medicine. More →

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Different Antipsychotics Have Different Effects on Brain Volume

First generation antipsychotics seem to cause general brain volume loss, while second generation antipsychotics seem to both increase and decrease the thickness of different parts of the brain, according to a study led by University of Melbourne researchers published in Psychological Medicine. And the effects on the brain, they found, are noticeable within a matter of months of beginning to take the medications. More →

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Antipsychotic Trial Designs Still Not Reaching Scientific Standards

Too many studies of atypical antipsychotic medications are still not meeting even the minimum scientific standards of the internationally agreed-upon CONSORT guidelines for drug trials, according to a study in Psychological Medicine. The frequently poor trial designs and methods are "potentially impeding the progress of research on antipsychotic efficacy," stated the team from the Kings College London Institute of Psychiatry. More →

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Semen Abnormalities Associated with SSRI Antidepressants

"Several studies have found altered semen parameters after exposure to SSRI antidepressants," stated the French non-profit medical continuing education organization Prescrire in a special report. "Although the role of SSRIs is uncertain, it is justified to take into account the observed effects on sperm quality and to inform exposed patients." More →

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“The Medicalization of Mood: Worse Than Nothing, or Just Ineffective?”

In his blog Psychology Salon, psychologist Randy Paterson explores what the balance of evidence is showing us after 60 years of increasing medical treatments for depression. Are drug treatments ineffective, or worse than ineffective? More →

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Report from the Front Lines: Dealing with a New Voice that I Call ‘The Counter’

I live in the quiet backwoods of a country where the general public talks very little about what it’s like to hear voices, where most people who admit to hearing voices are drugged into submission, and where I can’t learn much from anyone else’s experience, because we haven’t yet learned that we can get together and talk about it. But I’ve changed, and so have my voices, and now we seem to be able to negotiate a little, and I discovered this when I had to deal with The Counter and his attempt to intrude on my mind with his otherwise useful discipline.
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Lower Education Linked to Higher Antipsychotic Use in Swedish Elderly

Elderly people in Sweden are five times more likely to be taking antipsychotics if they have a diagnosis of dementia, according to research published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. And among those people with dementia, the lower their education the higher the likelihood they're taking antipsychotics. More →

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More than Half of UK Antipsychotic Prescribing is Not for Authorized Conditions

More than half of the prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs in the UK are being issued "off-label" to treat conditions other than those for which the drugs are approved, according to a large study published in the British Medical Journal Open. Researchers also found significantly higher levels of prescribing of the medications to poorer people. More →

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Ketamine: Promising Path, False Prophecy, or Producer of Psychosis?

In the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine's Gerard Sanacora and Stanford University School of Medicine's Alan Schatzberg examine the scientific literature on ketamine, and discuss some of the promises and dangers surrounding the recent resurgence of interest in the drug as a potential treatment for depression. More →

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Depression: It’s Not Your Serotonin

What if I told you that, in 6 decades of research, the serotonin (or norepinephrine, or dopamine) theory of depression and anxiety – the claim that “Depression is a serious medical condition that may be due to a chemical imbalance, and Zoloft works to correct this imbalance” – has not achieved scientific credibility? You’d want some supporting arguments for this shocking claim. So, here you go:
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Government Calls US Benzodiazepine Prescription Levels “Worrisome”

Despite the well-known risks of the drugs, especially for the elderly, prescription use of addictive benzodiazepine sedatives in the United States increases steadily with age, according to a large-scale study published in JAMA Psychiatry. Overall, as of 2008, 5.2% of American adults were taking the drugs. The study also showed that women were twice as likely to be taking benzodiazepines as men. National Institute of Mental Health director Thomas Insel called the findings "worrisome." More →

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Long-term Painkiller Use on Rise, 1/3rd Dangerously Mix with Anti-anxiety Meds

About 9% fewer Americans are using prescription opioids than were five years ago, but those people are taking more of the drugs for longer periods of time, according to a study by pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts reported in FiercePharma. And nearly one-third are being put in serious risk of overdose death by taking the opioids alongside prescriptions for benzodiazepine sedatives, stated the New York Times. More →

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Not an Onion Study: Laughing Gas vs Air for Treatment of Depression

"Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, has shown early promise as a potential treatment for severe depression in patients whose symptoms don’t respond to standard therapies," stated a press release about a widely-reported study that was published in Biological Psychiatry. The press release also stated that over a third of the patients improved after being given air. More →

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“Healing with MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy” and Other Psychedelic Stories

The Multi-Disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies' Winter 2014 Bulletin is freely available. Among other articles, the issue includes a personal story of a patient, "My Journey through PTSD: Healing with MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy." There's a conversation with a team of researchers working with MDMA, and remembrances of California chemist Sasha Shulgin. There's also an update on efforts to build support in the US Congress for more research into the therapeutic potentials of psychedelics. More →

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What Does Santa Think About ADHD Drugs?

NEWS FLASH (North Pole, Somewherereallycold)– According to sources at the North Pole, Santa is not happy about the growing use of ADHD drugs. As you know, long ago, he had made his list and checked it twice. But with more than 4.5 million kids in the USA alone doing ADHD drugs every day, he has had to redo his list infinitum.
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New Form of Mice Experiment Reveals Antidepressant’s Dangers Earlier

Scientists from the University of Utah say they have discovered a new way of doing mice experiments that more sensitively and quickly reveals negative side effects from drugs being tested. In their proof-of-concept, their experiment much more pronouncedly and rapidly revealed the negative effects of the antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine) on pregnant mothers and offspring, even at relatively low doses. More →

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The Truth About Antidepressant Research: An Invitation to Dialogue

The Finnish Psychological Association held a meeting in Helsinki on 1 Sept 2014 titled “Mental Health and Medicalization.” I spoke at the meeting and four days later I sent a letter to another speaker, psychiatrist Erkki Isometsä. Professor Isometsä replied: “I will respond to it in detail within a few days…” As “Open Dialogue” is essential in science, I have published my letter to Isometsä here as well as on my own website, although I didn’t succeed in starting a dialogue.
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