The case of “Beth” depicts, almost innocently, the trials and tribulations of a well-adjusted, talented 15-year-old who developed depression, paranoia, panic attacks, and self-injurious and homicidal behavior, and “bipolar disorder” after being prescribed antidepressants, and then antipsychotics. After Beth decided – on her own – to discontinue psychotropic medications in favor of hormone therapy, she remained free of psychiatric symptoms.
When the idea that selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) might make people feel suicidal first started to be discussed, I admit I was sceptical. It didn’t seem to me the drugs had much effect at all, and I couldn’t understand how a chemical substance could produce a specific thought. Because these effects did not show up in randomised controlled trials, they were dismissed and few efforts were made to study them properly. Then some large meta-analyses started to find an association between the use of modern antidepressants and suicidal thoughts and actions, especially in children.
A woman in Texas attempted suicide while in the active group of a clinical trial for smoking-cassation drugs Chantix and Zyban, both known to exacerbate depression. An appeals court ruled Thursday that she is able to sue the University that admitted her into the study.
Only months after the American Psychological Association voted to ban psychologists from “advanced interrogation” facilities like Guantánamo Bay prison the Pentagon is asking them to reconsider, James Risen reports in the ‘Times. Steven Reisner and Stephen Soldz, who led the campaign to end the APA’s involvement in torture, say that those criticizing the ban ignore “a wealth of evidence that systemic military interrogation abuses continued long after the time when the authors claimed they were banned.”
Wendy Dolin sued GSK after her husband committed suicide after taking a generic version of Paxil. The US District Court has declined GSK’s motions for summary judgement and the case will now stand trial.
In The Opinion Pages of the New York Times, Matthew Epperson discusses the devastating results of police acting as the primary responders to mental health crises. “If we are to prevent future tragedies, then we should be ready to invest in a more responsive mental-health system and relieve the police of the burden of being the primary, and often sole, responders.”
“Service members suffering from PTSD often feel like they’re wearing a mask,” Samantha Allen writes in Invisible Wounds. Melissa Walker, an art therapist, asks them to make one. “The results are stirring. One mask, striped in red and black with hollow chrome-colored eyes, is wrapped in razor wire with a lock where its mouth should be.”
For Tom Dispatch, historian Rick Shenkman “explores the biological phenomena that may well underpin our appalling lack of empathy, the animal instincts that allow so many of us to stand by in the face of unspeakable acts,” and “how the stories we tell ourselves and others might offer us a path to overcome our utterly human inhumanity.”
"HHS said it took pains to avoid any change to gun check reporting that would weaken physician–patient confidentiality and deter individuals from voluntarily seeking mental health treatment.”
“In 2014, 10,574 people died of heroin overdose while 15,778 died from an overdose of psychiatric medications, nearly 50% more,” writes addiction specialist Kenneth Anderson. “What account for this high overdose death rate for users of psychiatric medications and for the steep climb in death rates over the past 15 years?”
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that being exposed to bullying in childhood can contribute to mental health problems later in life. In a new study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, the researchers found that children who reported being bullied at age eight were significantly more likely to seek treatment for mental health problems by age twenty-nine.
"ISIS provides existential fast food, and for some of the most spiritually hungry young Westerners, ISIS is like a Big Mac amidst a barren wasteland of an existence,” Omar Hague writes in the Psychiatric Times. “Who actually joins ISIS? Not psychopaths or the brainwashed, but rather everyday young people in social transition, on the margins of society, or amidst a crisis of identity.”
“Those who possess the data control the story.” In the wake of the reanalysis of the infamous Study 329, where scientific data claiming the antidepressant Paxil was safe and effective for teens was egregiously manipulated, researchers are pushing for open access to raw data. “The issue here, scientists argue, is that without independent confirmation, it becomes too easy to manipulate data.”
Martha Rosenberg calls the reanalysis of Paxil and Study 329 “a victory for safety activists, medical reporters, the public and freedom of the press.” But, she warns, “many pro-pill doctors continue to fight evidence of Paxil’s suicide risks and similar SSRIs.”
"Our findings show that empathy with an out-group member can be learned, and generalizes to other out-group individuals," a research team led by Grit Hein of the University of Zurich writes in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Suicide rates in the United States have been rising, especially among veterans and members of the armed forces. Traditional assumptions about why people kill themselves have not led to effective strategies for suicide prevention,” psychologist Craig Bryan tells Science News. “So in recent years, psychologists and others have been reconsidering basic beliefs about why people carry out the ultimate act of self-destruction.”
In the context of the Silicon Valley suicides, one mother offers her story about her daughter. “It’s my premise that not only the culture of Silicon Valley, but also, almost more importantly, the nature of the remedies that are being proposed in the name of mental health counseling, are to blame in these deaths.”
“We Americans are living through a dread-inducing age,” Jessica Stern writes in the ‘Times, and our feelings of vulnerability have psychological and political consequences. Terror Management Theory, “which suggests that much of human behavior is motivated by an unconscious terror of death,” provides an explanation for the xenophobia and culture wars that often follow the dread of an attack.
What does the psychology of terror mean for America’s future? Social psychologist Daniel Kort weighs in on what the science of terror management theory, behavioral economics, and political polarization can tell us about where we’re headed.
Speaking on the Essential Pittsburgh radio show, psychologist Brent Dean Robbins, former president of the Society for Humanistic Psychology, discusses how fear drives us toward irrational policies in the wake of terror attacks. He also offers commentary on the Murphy Bill, which he criticizes for unfairly scapegoating those diagnosed with mental illnesses.
“ Terrorism researchers are trying to understand how young people in Europe become radicalized, by looking for clues in the life histories of those who have committed or planned terrorist acts in recent years, left the continent to join ISIS, or are suspected of wanting to become jihadists. A mixture of sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and psychologists are drawing on information generated by police, judicial inquiries and the media, and, in some cases, on interviews. They also study factors at play in prisons and socially-deprived areas. Some of their insights are summarized here.”
A new study in JAMA reveals that, on average, 25% of beginning physicians meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Thomas Schwenk, added: "Everybody asks me, because of some of my prior studies, should we have more intense work in diagnosing depression in students? Of course, the answer is 'yes,' but how do you go about that without further stigmatizing them, further labeling them, further singling them out to even greater stigma? It's not just an issue of, 'Let's make better diagnoses and let's provide better treatment'; it’s more complicated than that."
A four-part series from Canada Free Press on Pfizer’s smoking cessation drug Chantix and its connection to violence and suicide. “The 26 case reports included three actual suicides. In every case, the acts or thoughts of violence towards others appeared to be both unprovoked and inexplicable. Most of the perpetrators had no previous history of violence, and most of them were middle-aged women—not a group known for its propensity towards violent behavior.”
According to a study published in this month’s British Journal of Psychiatry, people diagnosed with depression in high-income countries are more likely to limit their behavior and community participation because of the anticipation of discrimination. The researchers point to cultural differences between high-income and developing societies as a possible reason for this difference. They also suggest that the biomedical model of mental illness, prevalent in industrial societies, “results in stigmatization and rejection from the outside, and self-attribution and self-blame from the inside.”
For the North Carolina Law Review, Katie Rose Guest Pryal writes, that “ a psychiatric diagnosis, or involuntary civil commitment to a psychiatric ward—which is considered treatment in the medical context—almost always leads to quasi-criminalization in the legal context.” “People with psychiatric disabilities,” she writes “are our society’s scapegoats, the tool we use to externalize our fear of the unpredictable violence of what appears to be the rise of spree-killings.”
Copyright © 2016 Mad in America Foundation.