Study Finds Racial Differences in Psychiatric Diagnosis and Treatment

According to a recent study published in the journal Psychiatric Services, black patients are almost twice as likely as their white counterparts to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, while white patients are significantly more likely to receive a diagnosis of anxiety or depression. The researchers also found that the likelihood of receiving psychotherapy for any diagnosis (34%), regardless of race or ethnicity, was much lower than the probability of receiving a psychotropic medication (73%).

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Who Will Guard the Guardians of Psychiatry?

The assertion that the so-called antidepressants are being over-prescribed implies that there is a correct and appropriate level of prescribing and that depression is a chronic illness, (just like diabetes). It has been an integral part of psychiatry’s message that although depression might have been triggered by an external event, it is essentially an illness residing within the person’s neurochemistry. The issue is not whether people should or shouldn’t take pills. The issue is psychiatry pushing these dangerous serotonin-disruptive chemicals on people, under the pretense that they have an illness.
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“The Hidden Harms of Antidepressants”

In a new article for Scientific American, Diana Kwon reports on how the true risks for suicide and aggression in children and teens taking antidepressants have been suppressed by drug companies. “Taken together with other research—including studies that suggest antidepressants are only marginally better than placebos—some experts say it is time to reevaluate the widespread use of these drugs.”

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“World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day Set for July 11th”

The 11 July 2016 will be the inaugural World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day, part of a campaign to raise global awareness about the issue of doctor-induced benzodiazepine dependency, which affects millions of people worldwide and can lead to debilitating withdrawal symptoms that often last for years. You can buy t-shirts in support of this campaign here.

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Mental Health Treatments Top List of US Healthcare Spending

According to new research, the United States spends over 200 billion annually on treatment and hospitalization for mental health issues, exceeding spending on heart conditions and cancer. Previous estimates of total healthcare spending by condition failed to account for costs associated with institutionalization but when this was factored into the latest research, the category of “mental disorders” moved to the top of the list by a substantial margin. More than 40% of spending on mental health issues are associated with institutionalization, the researchers found.

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The Evidence-Based Mind of Psychiatry on Display

Earlier this year, Ronald Pies and Allen Frances wrote a series of blogs that collectively might be titled: “Why Robert Whitaker is Wrong about Antipsychotics.” In regard to reviewing the “evidence” on that question, Pies did most of the heavy lifting, but he also told of drawing on the expertise of E. Fuller Torrey, Joseph Pierre and Bernard Carroll. Given the prominence of this group, it could be fairly said that Pies’ review reflects, to a large degree, the collective “thoughts” of American psychiatry. And with that understanding in mind, therein lies an opportunity, one not to be missed.
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Antidepressants Not a ‘One Size Fits All’ Solution, Researchers Find

The largest ever study of the thoughts and reactions of antidepressant users reveals that many people have vastly different understandings and experiences of the drugs. It is also evident from the study that many antidepressant users’ experiences are influenced by “chemical imbalance” and “serotonin deficiency” theories, despite these theories being roundly disproven in the scientific literature. The researchers, including MIA contributor John Read, are now seeking participants for a new survey on both antipsychotics and antidepressants, which can be accessed at www.psychmedicationsurvey.com

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A Worldwide Epidemic – The Misuse of Anti-Depressant Medications

Not all people who have letters after their names are actually “gods” or even people who have any special powers to know things about us more than we can learn about ourselves, about our own bodies, and our own minds. Blindly following what someone says we need to be doing for our own health (mental or physical) and well-being just because they have a white jacket on (so to speak) is usually not in our best interests.
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“Psych Drug Link to Violent Episodes Analysed”

The Irish Examiner reports on research by Yolande Lucire connecting antidepressant-induced akathisia to violent episodes. The research concludes that the “medicalisation of common human distress” has resulted in a very large number of people getting medication that may do more harm than good by causing “suicides and homicides and the mental states that lead up to them”.

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“Study Reveals Benzodiazepines Frequently Prescribed to High-Risk Patients”

A new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that benzodiazepines are prescribed at high doses to patients at a high rate of adverse events.

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“Psychiatric Drugs Killing More Users than Heroin, Cocaine, Say Health Experts”

A groundbreaking article for The Province is “sounding the alarm over the heightened risk of death linked to the use of psychiatric drugs.” They report on two studies, published this month, that studied the connection between benzodiazepines and mortality. "The interesting thing about this is that it's a prescription drug and people think they're safe," a doctor told the paper. "But as it turns out, we're probably prescribing these drugs in a way that's leading to harm."

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Coyne Covers Citalopram Controversy

In his “Mind the Brain” blog for PLOS, well-known researcher James Coyne reviews the controversy surrounding the latest case of a fraudulently reported study on the antidepressant citalopram. “Access to the internal documents of Forest Laboratories revealed a deliberate, concerted effort to produce results consistent with the agenda of vested interests,” he writes, “even where prespecified analyses yielded contradictory findings.”

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Review Links Antipsychotics with Risk for Heart Attacks

A systematic review published this week in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that patients taking antipsychotic drugs were at nearly twice the risk of a heart attack compared to non-users. "Our findings provide important information about the safety of antipsychotic drugs," Bing Ruan, a lead author of the study, wrote. "Clinicians should prescribe them only for patients with a clear need."

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“Why We Shouldn’t Trade a Weakened FDA for More Medical Research Funds”

Ed Silverman at STAT reports that Congress has linked increased research funding to “fast-track” approval procedures. “By linking the extra funds to speedier approvals, Congress appears ready to undermine regulatory standards. And this is a misguided notion that, unfortunately, is more likely to help companies than patients.”

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In Honor of Fear and Pain

Our use of antidepressants has turned single-episode struggles that recovered 85% of the time within one year, never to recur, into chronic and debilitating disorders that hold patients hostage in their own arrested development. But, If you are in the hole of pain, here’s what I have to say to you. It’s what I say to my patients, and what I tell myself in times of struggle.
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“The Unfulfilled Promise of the Antidepressant Medications”

A new article in The Medical Journal of Australia laments that, while antidepressant use continues to climb, the research evidence shows that their effectiveness is lower than many thought. Meanwhile, fewer patients are getting access to psychotherapy.

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“Medicare Drug Program Fails to Monitor Prescribers, Putting Seniors and Disabled at Risk”

ProPublica and The Washington Post have performed an investigation revealing that Medicare has failed to monitor the safety of the large quantities of drugs being prescribed to the elderly. “Searches through hundreds of millions of records turned up physicians such as the Miami psychiatrist who has given hundreds of elderly dementia patients the same antipsychotic, despite the government's most serious ‘black box’ warning that it increases the risk of death.”

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Childhood Trauma Predicts Lack of Response to Antidepressants

Research in Translational Psychiatry finds that childhood maltreatment and trauma predict a greater likelihood of developing chronic depression, and a reduced likelihood of responding to treatment in the form of antidepressant medication. The researchers recommend increased consideration of trauma issues in relation to depression, and therapies that address the trauma issues along with the current experience of depression.

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Daughter of a Psychiatrist

Here I was, 15 years old and already in a long-term treatment facility. I was, on paper: crazy! This entire time, all the adults in my life had been speaking for me. I never felt like I was any of the things they said, but I went along with it. What else could I have done? Every time I rebelled, it only confirmed to my mother what she thought of me.
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Interview: Researchers Deconstruct Ghostwritten Industry Trial for Antidepressant

Researchers, Jon Jureidini, Jay Amsterdam and Leemon McHenry, have taken a closer look at the data from a randomized control trial of citalopram (Celexa) that was ghostwritten and then used by the manufacturers to support claims of the drug’s efficacy and safety in the treatment of child and adolescent depression. Their analysis used 750 recently-released court documents from a lawsuit against Forest Labs concerning the marketing and sales practices involved in the off-label promotion of Celexa. Drs. Jon Jureidini and Jay Amsterdam were expert witnesses in the case. The article is published, open-access, in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine. 

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Report from the Parliament: Can Psychiatry At Least Be Curious?

In the past six years, I have had the opportunity to speak at several conferences or meetings that I felt had particular potential to stir some political activity that would challenge current psychiatric practices, and one of those events was the meeting convened in the U.K.’s Parliament on May 11th, which had this title for the day: Rising Prescriptions, Rising Mental Health Disability: Is There a Link?
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Antidepressants Do Not Prevent Suicides, May Increase Risk

When the CDC released data revealing an increasing suicide rate in the US, some experts, speaking to major media outlets, speculated that the increase could be tied to the FDA’s Black Box warning for teen suicides on antidepressants. It was suggested that the warnings may discourage some from taking antidepressants and that these drugs may prevent suicides. The research, however, does not appear to support these claims. A new review of studies on the role of antidepressants in suicide, published this month in the journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, concludes that there is no evidence that antidepressants prevent suicide and that the research may even suggest that the drugs  increase the risk.

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“Judge Orders Release of Secret OxyContin Records Sought by STAT”

A Kentucky judge has ruled that Purdue Pharma will have to release secret documents about the marketing of OxyContin, a potent pain pill that has been blamed for igniting the opioid epidemic.

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“Public Wary of Faster Approvals of New Drugs, STAT-Harvard Poll Finds”

According to a new STAT-Harvard poll, the majority of Americans oppose new legislation that would speed up the approval of new drugs and medical treatments.

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Olanzapine Can Cause Serious Skin Reaction, FDA Warns

The US FDA has issued a new warning for the atypical antipsychotic Olanzapine, also known by the brand names Zyprexa and Symbyax. The agency warns that new evidence shows that the drug can lead to a rare but serious skin condition known as Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS). The condition can be progressive and can lead to the injury of internal organs and even death. There are currently no specific treatments for DRESS.

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