Study Finds Improved Functioning for ‘Schizophrenia’ Without Antipsychotics

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.

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The Case Against Antipsychotics

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.”
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More Children Receiving ‘Off-Label’ Antipsychotics for ‘ADHD’

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.’

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Researchers Discover How Antipsychotics Lead To Parkinsonism

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.

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Announcing an International Symposium and Institute on Psychiatric Drug Risks and Withdrawal

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.
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“Jury Smacks J&J with $70M in Damages in Latest Risperdal Breast Case”

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 →

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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“FDA Rejects Creepy Abilify Surveillance Pill”

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.

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FDA Warns About New Impulse-Control Problems Associated With Abilify

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.

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“What Drug Ads Don’t Say”

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?”

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Unhelpful Utterances: 6 Comments We Should No Longer Hear From Mental Health Professionals

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.
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“B.C. Care Homes Provide Antidepressants Without Diagnoses”

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.”

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“Antipsychotics May Boost Early Death Risk in Parkinson’s”

As we have reported at MIA, new research indicates that Parkinson's disease patients who are given antipsychotics to treat dementia and psychosis may be more likely to die early.

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Antipsychotics Increase Mortality Risk in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease

A new study in JAMA Neurology finds that the use of antipsychotic drugs more than doubled the risk of death in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Use of antipsychotics is common in Parkinson’s patients who exhibit symptoms of dementia or psychosis, and the researchers call for increased caution when prescribing these drugs and for the development of non-drug approaches to managing psychiatric symptoms.

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Dr. Pies and Dr. Frances Make a Compelling Case that Their Profession is Doing Great Harm

Over the past two months, Ronald Pies and Allen Frances, in response to a post I had written, wrote several blogs that were meant to serve as an “evidence-based” defense of the long-term use of antipsychotics. As I read their pieces, I initially focused on that core argument they were presenting, but second time through, the aha moment arrived for me. Their blogs, when carefully parsed, make a compelling case that their profession, in their use of antipsychotics as a treatment for multiple psychotic disorders, has done great harm, and continues to do so today.
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Life, Unarmed

When I was born, everyone was expecting me to have arms. The doctor’s mind raced; how am I going to tell this mother and the father that their son has hands but not arms? If he’s missing so much in his extremities, mustn’t he also be missing a mind? My mom looked into my eyes and knew – in a way that only mothers know – that I had a mind, and spirit.
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