Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Comments by Vanessa_M

Showing 16 of 16 comments.

  • No, that is not what I am implying here – I do not agree with the current methods of labeling and treatment, nor am I saying that I think they are okay. I think you are interpreting more here from my comments, than what was actually intended. My point was only that I recognize that the legal system and the medical community DO see these kinds of interventions as legitimate, and justified – from their perspective, they will think they did the right thing based on what this man had reported at the time. But obviously this case does point to the flaws in the current system of psychiatric diagnosis – it cannot tell the difference between a real disease vs. malingering. Same problem that was highlighted several decades ago with the Rosenhan experiment. There are no tests available that can screen a person for the real presence of a disease, it is all based on clinical judgement from reported symptoms that correspond with a particular DSM category.

  • This is an amazing story. I wish we would hear of more examples like this one, where people undergo a profound recovery after treatment. I know there is a documentary called ‘Bipolarized’ by Ross Mckenzie, which tracks one man’s life story with bipolar disorder and his experiences with toxic meds. He went to a prominent naturopathic doctor because he was so miserable and unwell on psych drugs, and was looking for alternatives. He was treated with chelation therapy for heavy metal toxicity (no one had ever bothered to check for this before) and now in his 40’s he reports feeling healthier than he ever has in his whole life and is now living drug free.

  • You said urine analysis is not useful – can you comment on whether this was using a chelation agent (urine challenge) or not? I’ve heard some professionals saying that the Urine challenge with chelation agent can be very useful, especially for assessing heavy metal toxicities. It seems like whenever I try to research the different testing methods, there is always some element of controversy that surrounds each one. I look forward to hearing more as your research progresses, on whether you think Hair Analysis proves to be more useful.

  • Hi Julia, you mentioned that serum nutrient levels are not useful for determining one’s needs.

    I can tell you that I did BOTH the panel of tests recommended by the Walsh Research Institute (which tests serum copper and plasma zinc using the Walsh-Pfeiffer rangers, rather than standard lab ranges, which are apparently more sensitive) and I did I a Hair Element Analysis. The tests were in agreement. I think if people are trying to figure out what their needs are it might be useful to do more than one type of test to confirm that there is a problem. My lab tests came back with copper being off the chart high, low zinc and low iron and slightly elevated lead. Everything else was normal. A friend of mine also got tested using a Hair Element Analysis (she has CFS and anxiety disorder) and she also tested positive with copper levels being extremely high. This is why some people are expressing concerns about nutrient overloads, because there are a lot of people who find out about Walsh’s work, they get tested and find out that mineral or nutrient overload is an issue, just as he predicts. If you take a multi-vitamin that potentially has added copper in it, then it is just going to make the problem worse for that person not better.

    I think your work is extremely important, but people like me would like to see effective methods of testing become part of mainstream healthcare. Screen people for potential heavy metal toxicities, or nutrient overloads/deficiencies before starting any kind of treatment approach. I know many years of my life were wasted going along with multiple trials of different psychotropic meds (may have tried at least 8, none of them worked and made my life worse with side-effects). And then I find out years later that I did in fact have issues certain nutrients being out of whack, but I am glad I found out specifically which ones. I know that, at least for the time being, I should not be supplementing with multi-vitamins that contain added copper.

  • That’s amazing! I’ve just discovered his work in the last year, and have started a treatment protocol. I wish there was a site where people could report on their experiences with following Walsh’s suggestions – I feel like he should have a testimonials page or something, where others could read about the experiences of people who have had success with his approaches. I think that would be helpful if people could band together, who have had success with nutrient therapeutics. Would be a powerful challenge to the current paradigm in mental health care, that these kinds of alternatives are effective.

    What was your child diagnosed with?

  • I was already having issues, taking the multi simply made me feel worse and way more fatigued. And yes, I’ve heard of Hoffer. That was more the ‘old school’ of nutrient therapeutics from what I understand, there is a lot of new research that has built from and improved upon his work since the 80’s. Did you stick with that protocol or did it not work for you? I’m curious about whether he was actually testing people – or just recommending a bunch of supplements?

  • Agree with you here, anyone interested in this kind of nutrient based therapy should also have a look at Dr. William Walsh’s work. He has founded the Walsh Research Institute, which is a non-profit and they have done tens of thousands of biochemical tests on individuals with various mental disorders. They’ve picked out some recurring patterns in these individuals and found that normalizing methylation cycle imbalances and correcting nutrient deficiencies and overloads can absolutely help people to recover completely.

  • I agree with this point as well. I think it could potentially be a bad idea for some people to start broad-spectrum supplementing. Get tested properly and find out what your individual needs are FIRST because you may find out that you are overloaded in something – like copper for instance – and then taking a multivitamin is going to make things worse. A few people reference the work of Dr. William Walsh here, which I think is important to look at. He has done testing on tens of thousands of people with various mental disorders, and has picked out some general patterns in nutrient deficiencies/and overloads in people with these disorders. Copper is a repeat offender. I am posting this because I struggled with various health issues (including anxiety, depression, hypersensitivity, insomnia, fatigue) for years and would usually feel worse when I started taking a multi-vitamin (and yes it was a high quality brand). Years later, I get tested for every heavy metal and mineral and low and behold, I found out that COPPER was OFF THE CHART, with low zinc and also low iron. I did testing via a second method to confirm these results. So now I understand why no medications ever worked to treat my symptoms, because they were not addressing the underlying root problem. I think there is a lot to this nutrient therapeutics approach and could revolutionize how we are treating mental disorders, but I do think that testing should be an important piece and that blindly supplementing could potentially be dangerous for some people. What I say is find a good practitioner, like a Dr. or Naturopath trained in Functional Medicine, who can do the proper testing and work with you and design a protocol that is specific to your individual needs.

  • You’re right, that did come out a bit harsh and judgemental. I’m not saying I don’t sympathize, I think it is absolutely atrocious what happened to this man as well as to many others who have suffered at the hands of these institutions, but I was just thinking in terms of how the justice/legal system might view a person who has admitted to malingering and tried to cheat their way out of serving time. There is a bit of problem there.

  • I cannot provide any stats on homicide or aggression for these drugs but I am sure they do exist, I agree it would be more helpful to see some facts and figures so that people know that it is not just about personal opinion. One of the problems in getting hard facts and figures on the aggression/homicide issue, is that these drug companies do actively attempt to conceal this information from the public.

    What I can share with you, however, is an article by David Healy which includes a table with rates of suicide and attempted suicides in clinical control trials for each drug, drawn from the FDA (p.11). http://davidhealy.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/2004-Healy-Shaping-the-Intimate-SS.pdf The table shows the comparisons between the placebo groups and those taking the drugs – it is really quite shocking. I understand that a lot of people do benefit from these drugs and feel defensive when they see an article like this, but I think it is absolutely necessary to have these discussions, because for some people these drugs can have incredibly dangerous consequences. Scarier still, is that psychiatry currently has no method yet of figuring out who will respond well to the medications and truly needs them vs. who will go completely off the handle. It seems like the psychiatrists treating these people fail at every possible level to stop the treatment even when there are clear signs of harm. It is all gone about in a completely haphazard, trial and error sort of manner.

    I think people should know the risks, and be aware of potential symptoms like these when they start taking medications because it could very well prevent another tragedy. I really doubt the the FDA would have approved a warning label for these drugs, if there was zero data or proof available on the risks and dangers. This cannot be a matter of just opinion.

    Furthermore, the drug companies will always have that convenient argument on their side that any suicide or act of violence was the result of the mental illness itself, not the drugs. Forget the causative agent that was in the mix, that was supposed to help resolve the problem.

  • This article was excellent and one of the most informative that I’ve come across so far on this topic. I wish articles like this appeared in the mainstream media. Seems like everyone is distracted by vitriolic debates about guns, and we may me completely missing a very crucial aspect of this mass shooting problem. I think it would be really interesting if say a popular public figure like John Oliver (known for producing very intelligent, thought provoking expose’s on different social issues) were to do a piece on this very topic.

  • It really scares me how we treat the mentally ill, and think that this is ‘help’. While I think it is unfortunate that this story is about someone who tried to cheat the system to get out of serving time, it does say something about our mental healthcare system and how we don’t actually have any real and objective methods of detecting a mental disease. There are no scientific tests available to sort out who could be faking or suffering for other reasons, and who has a legitimate and biologically based illness. Honestly, rather than trying to find your justice through the legal system (you got yourself into this mess, admitted to malingering, so I doubt many people will sympathize with you on that) why not write a book about your experiences from inside the institution and what you saw happening there? A book like the one written by Susana Kaysen – “Girl Interrupted”, which documents her experience within a mental institution and she was quite sane. It could be a contemporary version of a sane person’s insider view of the insanity inherent in the system. You were witness to many abuses and could become the voice for others who may not be in a position or state of mind to be able to speak out against this kind of institutional abuse.

  • Yet another excellent work and response to criticisms. I completely understand why there is a backlash against Whitaker, no one is going to like ideas that upset the status quo within psychiatry. I am sure so many doctors need to believe that they are helping rather than harming, after all didn’t the profession manage to legitimate itself as ‘medical’ when the antipsychotics first came on the market? I’d like to see better solutions developed to help people with psychosis or schizophrenia, it really saddens me to know what these drugs are doing to people. Parkinsonisms, tarditive dyskenesia, obesity, slow cognition, the list goes on… unacceptable and hard to fathom how anyone can think that drugs that create iatrongenic diseases like these are somehow reversing an inherent imbalance. I have been recently looking into the work of Dr. William Walsh, and I think he might really be onto something with his research. His focus is on epigenetic factors, nutrient imbalances, methylation cycle imbalances, and heavy metal toxicities, which he posits as explanations for pscychosis, schizophrenia and other various disorders. The so called chemical imbalances may not be what we thought they were all this time, and maybe we have been looking in the wrong place (imbalances occuring in the brain may be a downstream effect of something else). He has developed one of the largest biochemical databases on mental disorders in the world, and so his work is quite compelling. He makes the case for a simple panel of tests which can help to sort out the underlying cause of many of these disorders, and will offer up a solution that does not involved medications (nutrient therapeutics). It is actually quite shocking to me that as of yet, no biochemical tests are standard for assessing people who are presenting with mental illnesses. For instance, if we know that various metals can induce all sorts of psychiatric symptoms than why are people not routinely screened in order to rule these factors out?? The same is true for deficiencies/ overloads in various essential minerals. Once again, doctors are simply not looking and writing out prescriptions for people without given any thought to these possibilities.

  • I understand that these kinds of drugs are the best that we have for now, and that doctors feel the need to do something for their patients who are suffering. But some day we are all going to look back on this era of medications and treatments in horror. This has always raised serious questions in my mind, if these meds are really supposed to be reversing a ‘chemical imbalance’ then why do they create all these new problems? (ie: obesity, memory problems, slow cognition, tarditive dyskenesia, type II diabetes etc…) Shouldn’t the person be completely cured and healthy if that were really the case? A more realistic way of looking at these drugs is that they produce a altered state, which is beneficial for some but will likely have many other unintended consequences.

  • Agreed, the divide between more ‘severe’ cases and ‘less severe’ cases is incredibly arbitrary. When an entire system of diagnosis is built upon symptom cluster categories alone, there is always going to be debate and controversy over how these disorders are defined and the threshold of severity required for diagnosis. How can we ever be confident that an individual is receiving the right treatment if we cannot accurately identify the underlying etiology of their symptoms. This is the biggest flaw in the whole system from my perspective. There are no biochemical tests which can accurately determine whether a person does in fact need drugs, and which might prove that there is a biological basis for their condition. It seems ridiculous to me that we are prescribing drugs that act on the biology of the brain, without any proof whatsover that the problem is biological in nature in any given individual. Rather, it is assumed that every person presenting with a certain set of symptoms has the same problem (a biochemical imbalance).

  • While I agree with a lot of the points in this article, I think the assertion that ‘depression is not a real illness’ is dangerously dismissive and goes too far. Yes, we have all been deluded by the ‘chemical imbalance theory’ and certainly antidepressants are overprescribed, and inappropriately used by many, and the DSM bible is inherently problematic in that it only uses symptoms to diagnose these conditions (many of these diagnostic categories may have heterogenous etiologies, rather than all describing the same problem, with the same solution). Yes, our existing models have failed, but that does not mean that there is no biological or medical basis for major depression. It just might be completely different than what we originally thought – for example, we may have been looking in the wrong places all along trying to find the answer in the brain, when really the problem might be in the gut. There are researchers out there who are paving the way to developing new theories that would support a biological basis for various mental disorders. The microbiome is on such area, and I believe is the emerging new frontier in research and medicine.

    Furthermore, I think the work of Dr. William Walsh is extremely interesting and compelling; he has produced the largest biochemical database in the world on people with mental disorders and has identified some very interesting patterns. He proposes a number of subtypes for depression and identifies different kinds of imbalance that can cause the same symptoms (methylation cycle imbalances, heavy metal toxcities, nutrient deficiencies/overloads). To give an example, an interesting finding of his was that women experiencing post-partum depression or post-partum psychosis all tend to have excessively high levels of copper in their system and low levels of zinc. He proposes normalizing the copper levels with zinc and other nutrients as the solution to this type of depression. The doctors he has trained are getting astonishing results with these kinds of approaches.

    What I think is missing from mainstream medicine is a refined panel of biochemical tests (like the ones proposed by Walsh) that could be given to any person presenting with a mental illness in order to rule out potential biological causes of their symptoms. I do think that there is a biological basis for some people with depression and other mental disorders, but we currently lack the ability to properly screen for it in our current health care model.

    Another thing we currently lack in this society is an effective and accessible method for dealing with trauma. Few medical professionals or psychiatrists are trained or equipped to be able to deal with this (and I suspect none would have the time for it either), and so they may fail to properly identify it in the first place. The source of trauma may not always be ‘overt’ or obvious, so to speak. Trauma could be the other big part of depressive disorder, and may account for a lot of the cases that are not biological in nature. People may be distracted away from taking the vital steps to healing that are necessary for recovery, if they are told they have a medical condition and pills will fix their problems.

    It is about time we start developing more refined approaches for accurately sorting out the underlying causes of major depressive disorder, rather than this terrible and imprecise model of diagnosis based on symptom clusters. I don’t think it is helpful to argue flat out that depression is not a real illness, that seems to be wholly unproductive and a disservice to those who are really deeply suffering and may have a valid biological predisposition. The research is still underway with regards to establishing a biological basis for some forms of depression, and arguably there are already researchers out there like Walsh who have developed some very compelling new theories on this front.