For the New York Times, Cornell psychiatrist Richard Friedman proposes new regulations to make direct-to-consumer drug ads reveal the relative price and effectiveness information that is currently hidden. “Drug companies might legitimately complain that there are many reasons a drug might fail to outperform a placebo besides ineffectiveness: quirks in the design of a trial; patients who were not typical of those with the disease; a dosage that was too low. But then the company should be happy to explain this to the public, since the goal is education, right?”
Professionals are paid to share their wisdom with those who are, typically, less informed. But, when dealing with mental health professionals in the psychiatric arena, it is wise to retain a degree of skepticism about the words spoken by the doctors and nurses commissioned to help reduce human misery and suffering.
People who survive life-threatening illnesses in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital are at high risk for depression and anxiety and nearly a quarter suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to new research published in the journal of Critical Care Medicine. The study, conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, found that, following a stay in the ICU, patients who are young, unemployed, female, or who are prescribed opioids longer-term, are at the highest risk for persistent psychiatric symptoms.
Today, organizers have released a statement announcing a "World Benzo Awareness Day" to take place on Monday, 11th July 2016. "This day has been made necessary due to decades of inaction on the part of global governments over the most serious of public health issues - that is doctor induced benzodiazepine drug dependency and associated iatrogenic damages." See the full statement below.
Multiple media sources are reporting on new data from the CDC revealing a substantial increase in the suicide rate in the United States between 1999 and 2014, with a steep increase in rates among girls and women. Few report, however, that the percentage of Americans on antidepressants has nearly doubled over this period.
In the New York Times, Paula Span discusses the risks of polypharmacy, the use of five or more drugs at the same time, which is becoming increasingly common among older adults. “We spend an awful lot of money and effort trying to figure out when to start medications,” Dr. Alexander said, “and shockingly little on when to stop."
A study, comparing the effects of antidepressants combined with psychotherapy for severe depression to antidepressants alone, has been retracted and replaced by JAMA Psychiatry. The errors, once corrected, “have not changed the final conclusion of this study—that cognitive therapy combined with antidepressant medication treatment enhanced rates of recovery relative to treatment with medication alone,” according to the authors. A related, follow-up study, covered by MIA, including first author, Steven Hollon, also found that “patients with more severe depression were no more likely to require medications to improve than patients with less severe depression.”
I lived through forced ECT from 2005-2006 at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. My experience with ECT was the impetus for me to become involved in the antipsychiatry and Mad Pride movements, although I am not entirely opposed to voluntary mental health treatment. The following is the comment I submitted to the FDA on its proposal to down-classify the ECT shock device.
For The Week, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry comments on the current state of Science: the replicability crisis, the failure to self-correct, outright fraud, the inadequacy of peer review, and the tendency to cling to regnant paradigms. “All of this suggests that the current system isn't just showing cracks, but is actually broken, and in need of major reform," Gobry writes. “There is very good reason to believe that much scientific research published today is false, there is no good way to sort the wheat from the chaff, and, most importantly, that the way the system is designed ensures that this will continue being the case.”
The Mercury News reports that California’s judicial council is taking major steps to address the rampant use of psychiatric drugs in foster care. The council has added, “a slate of new safeguards to make juvenile courts here the country’s most careful and inquisitive monitors of psychiatric care for abused and neglected children.”
For Alternet, Martha Rosenberg discusses the dangers of overmedicating seniors and older adults. She interviews Dr. Harry Haroutunian about his new book, “Not As Prescribed: Recognizing and Facing Alcohol and Drug Misuse in Older Adults.”
In this video from CBC News, BMJ editor Fiona Godlee takes on “corruption of the scientific process.” "There will be commercial pressures, academic pressures, and to pretend otherwise is absurd. So we have to have many more mechanisms, much more skepticism, and much more willingness to challenge."
A new study, published in JAMA Neurology, found that older people who regularly took anticholinergic drugs, including certain cold medicines or antidepressants, had poorer cognitive skills and lower brain volumes. “I certainly wouldn’t advise my grandparents or even my parents to take these medications unless they have to,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Shannon Risacher, told Time magazine.
Antidepressants have been reported to cause a state called “akathisia,” where people feel extremely agitated and restless and may become preoccupied with thoughts of violence. In a new article, to be published in the latest issue of the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, researchers investigate the role of antidepressants in three recent murders.
The medication left me emotionally numb, making it impossible to connect with people or sense the aliveness of the world around me. But after two years on antidepressants, I found something that gave me jolt of feeling strong enough to wake me up for a moment. I then spent the next seven years giving myself daily doses of horror to induce an emotional reaction.
The Roanoke Times medical column takes on the question, “Can antidepressants lead to suicidal thoughts and actions?” concluding that “it is crucial for patients and their families to be alerted to this potentially deadly side effect.”
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently issued a controversial recommendation that all adolescent and adult patients undergo depression screening in primary care. The Wall Street Journal has published a back and forth on this issue between Richard Chung, a pediatrician, and Allen Frances, the well-known academic psychiatrist, entitled “Should All Teens Be Screened for Depression?”. While Chung argues that early diagnoses may lead to better outcomes, Frances insists that screening will lead to the medicalization of normal adolescence and worries that “teens may be haunted for life by carelessly applied labels.”
A new analysis of the information that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) publishes for parents about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) concludes that the children’s experiences and contexts are ignored and that medication is presented, misleadingly, as the only solution supported by research evidence. The researchers also point out that “cause and effects of ‘ADHD’ are intertwined through circular argumentation,” with the materials describing certain behaviors as a disorder and then later asserting that those same behaviors are caused by that disorder.
Students from Harvard Medical School joined students from Tufts University to protest Joseph DiMasi, who recently published a study that the students claim is biased by funding from Big Pharma. “DiMasi’s figures are used by pharmaceutical companies to preserve the status quo and their bottom line,” a press release for the protest read, claiming his relationship with the pharmaceutical companies presents a conflict of interest for his research.
"During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military plied its servicemen with speed, steroids, and painkillers to help them handle extended combat,” Lukasz Kamienski writes for The Atlantic. Vietnam was the first “pharmacological war” and the level of consumption of psychoactive substances by soldiers was unprecedented in American history.
Martha Rosenberg analyzes the “slick, Mad Men-style ads” that ran in medical journals from the 1950s-70s “in which women clearly ‘knew their place’ and stayed in it." “The message—that these women are not adjusting to the role that society has given them and that the answer is drugs—is clear.”
A new study finds that prenatal exposure to antidepressant drugs, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, is associated with higher rates of depression in early adolescence. According to the research, published this month in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, children exposed to SSRIs during pregnancy were diagnosed with depression by age 14 at more than quadruple the rate of children whose mothers were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder but did not take the drugs.
New data reveals that the majority of care homes in British Columbia, Canada are giving out prescriptions for antidepressants and antipsychotics without a diagnosis. According to a report by the Times Colonist, “there are a whopping 54 homes in which 40 percent of the residents are taking antipsychotics without a diagnosis.”
The New York Post reprints an excerpt on antidepressants from the latest book by MIA contributor, Kelly Brogan, MD, “A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives.” “I find it outrageous that drug companies can use any number of tactics to establish efficacy, including the suppression of data, and then use those tactics to legitimize long-term prescribing with no thought or attention to the real side effects over time,” she writes.
“Pharmaceutical industry influence can harm the social and moral character of medical students. In medicine, the traditional virtues of benevolence, compassion, integrity, respectfulness, honesty and justice are valued over commitments to money, power and self.”
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