In this month’s issue of the journal Brain a new study investigates whether the drugs prescribed to control seizures can increase the risk of psychotic symptoms in some people. After reviewing over ten years of medical records of patients treated for epilepsy, the researchers concluded that up to one in seven cases of patients with epilepsy who were later diagnosed with psychosis could be attributed to an adverse effect of the anti-epileptic drugs.
STAT’s Rob Waters profiles Vera Sharav, a holocaust survivor whose son was diagnosed with schizophrenia and died from a side effect of his antipsychotic medication. “Twenty years ago, there wasn’t much societal awareness of the corruption of academic medicine by pharma money,” said Robert Whitaker, a journalist and author who has written widely about mental health treatment. “Vera Sharav was one of the pioneers in creating awareness of this problem.”
In an article for Psychiatric Services, psychiatrist Christopher Gordon and his colleagues report on the results of a one-year feasibility study attempting to implement Open Dialogue approaches to crisis intervention to the treatment of first-episode psychosis in the US. Their trial program was successful, with positive clinical outcomes, improved functioning, and significant changes in symptoms, leading the researchers to suggest that states consider adopting to Open Dialogue model.
In part six of a seven-part “Drugging Our Kids” series by The Mercury News, Karen de Sa and Tracy Seipel unveil California’s top foster care prescribers fueling the medication of vulnerable kids. “What I see in these numbers is: We don’t really treat, we use chemical restraints. We drug,” said Trochtenberg, who said doctors blithely prescribed multiple meds rather than help her recover from the deep pain and trauma of childhood abuse. “Medications are so overused — and so significantly — that it’s outrageous there’s such a lack of leadership in holding doctors accountable, and holding the system accountable.”
Despite the fact that clinical practice guidelines specifically recommend against the use of more than one antipsychotic at once, new research reveals that as many as 12% of all psychiatric patients are discharged with multiple prescriptions for these drugs. The latest study, published open-access this week in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, finds that the prescription of multiple antipsychotics continues to be an issue affecting nearly ten thousand patients every year in psychiatric hospitals alone.
Long-term treatment with antipsychotic drugs is currently considered the standard treatment for patients diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia.’ A new study challenges this practice, however. The results, published this month in Psychological Medicine, reveal that patients who were not taking antipsychotic drugs had significantly higher levels of functioning than medicated patients.
At times, I think that I must seem like a dog with a bone, and that I just can’t let this one particular subject—the long-term effects of psychiatric drugs—go. I wrote about this in Anatomy of an Epidemic, and since then I have given many talks and written many blogs on the topic, and more recently, I engaged in a back-and-forth of sorts with Ronald Pies and Allen Frances about this. But I do think it is important that the relevant science is known, and with that thought in mind, I decided to write a paper that, in as succinct a manner as possible, would make the “case against antipsychotics.”
Over the past twenty years, the number of prescriptions for atypical antipsychotics written to children and young adults between four and eighteen has increased precipitously, according to the results of a recent study published in the journal Medicine. Two-thirds of these antipsychotics were prescribed “off-label” for unapproved uses, many for children diagnosed with ‘ADHD.’
A new study published this month in the journal Neuron identifies the mechanism by which antipsychotic drugs can induce parkinsonism, a condition involving movement abnormalities. The researchers found that antipsychotics block D2 dopamine receptors in a part of the brain called the striatum, specifically acting on interneurons in this area, leading to problems with movement.
I have given up on psychiatry as a system capable of “being there” for people who are dealing with life and death issues. Psychiatry as a system of care lacks validity. Every day — unfortunately — we learn of new examples proving this statement. But here’s the good news: every day we meet people who show us that the predictions of psychiatry are not true; that there are “cures,” that it is possible to reduce or withdraw psychiatric drugs. This October 15th, we will host Scientific Symposium – Psychiatric Drug Risk and Alternatives in Gothenburg, Sweden, to gather and build on what we learn from them.
Fierce Pharma reports: "Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) is fighting more than 1,500 legal claims that its antipsychotic Risperdal triggered breast development in boys, and the company has landed on the wrong side of a jury verdict in several of them so far. The same thing happened Friday in a Philadelphia court. The difference, this time, is that the jury smacked J&J with a $70 million damages award--many times larger than previous awards in similar cases." More →
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
The FDA has rejected the drug/device combination designed to monitor patient adherence with Abilify from Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Proteus Digital Health. Just last week the FDA issued an additional warning that Abilify (aripiprazole), an atypical antipsychotic, could lead to compulsive and dangerous behaviors.
Yesterday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning that the antipsychotic drug aripiprazole or Abilify is associated with compulsive and uncontrollable urges. Research suggests that the drug may cause urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, and have sex but that the urges often stop when the drug is withdrawn or the dose is reduced.
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.
Copyright © 2016 Mad in America Foundation.