Tag Archives | Mental Health

Skunk Weed Can Cause ‘Significant Brain Damage’

If you’re partial to smoking skunk, just be aware that it’s strength could be your weakness (if you believe this study by Kings College London:

Cannabis is the most widely used drug in the world, but its effect on mental health has only recently been uncovered.


Research led by Professors Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi demonstrated that the earlier people start using cannabis, the more likely they are to have symptoms of psychosis as a young adult. A study of 1,000 men and women in New Zealand showed that people who had been regular cannabis users at 15 were about four times more likely to have psychotic symptoms by the time they were 26 than their abstaining peers. The research also identified genetic variations that made people more vulnerable to the harmful effects of cannabis.

Further work led by Dr Marta Di Forti showed that people who smoke a potent form of cannabis (skunk) regularly are much more likely to develop psychosis than those who use traditional cannabis resin (hash) or old-fashioned grass.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Silicon Valley Suicides

ryan melaugh (CC BY 2.0)

ryan melaugh (CC BY 2.0)

Hanna Rosin via The Atlantic:

Why are so many kids with bright prospects killing themselves in Palo Alto?

A few students had gotten in early to take some photos dressed as Scooby-Doo characters, part of an annual volleyball-team tradition. Now one of them, Alyssa See-Tho, was waiting outside the choir room for first period to start. Slowly, classmates began to join her. Through the windows, they could spy the teachers packed in there. In the other classrooms of Henry M. Gunn High School, about 1,900 kids waited. After a few minutes the teachers filed out, each holding a sheet of paper, none talking. Alyssa took her seat inside. It was November 4, 2014, a few days after homecoming and maybe a month before college applications would start making everyone crazy. The teacher read a statement containing the words took his own life last night, and then a name, Cameron Lee.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Pseudo-Therapy Apps: The Fad Diet Of Mental Health

laid back

The Personal Zen app

You’ve got mental problems? There’s an app for that. In fact there are several, per TechCrunch:

…With more than 40 million people suffering from mental health disorders, there is a large opportunity to profit by promising quick-fix remedies to emotional pain. Leveraging ubiquitous mobile devices, a single app can deliver these quick-fix remedies in a highly scalable way.

JoyableHappifySuperBetter and Personal Zen are examples of pseudo-therapy apps that have recently entered the mental health field.

What are their claims?

  • “90% of our clients see their social anxiety decline.” – Joyable
  • “Our online CBT program is proven to reduce social anxiety in just 12 weeks.” – Joyable
  • 86% of frequent users get happier in 2 months.” – Happify
  • “Playing SuperBetter for 30 days improves mood, reduces symptoms of anxiety & depression and increases self-confidence.” – SuperBetter
  • “Personal Zen Scientifically Reduces Anxiety in 25 Minutes” – Personal Zen

As a psychotherapist, I am troubled by this misguided, quick-fix approach to mental health.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Transmuting Historical Trauma

Naas Siddiqui writes at Mad in America:

My first memory is from when I was three years old. I witnessed a mass shooting at my hometown mall. My mom and I hid behind a bookcase in the bookstore. Later on in my life, I would read the newspaper archives and learn that something like ten people were wounded and three killed, including a two-year-old toddler shot right through the heart. The young woman who opened fire was described as a violent schizophrenic.

* * * * *

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder in my early 20s (I’m 33 now). I’ve experienced six instances of what might be called “psychotic episodes” in my life, each lasting from three weeks to several months. These episodes may have been the most meaningful and the most misunderstood times in my life.

These surges from the unconscious, as I prefer to call them, contain mystical elements, biblical themes and eastern spirituality.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Inside the misunderstood world of psychiatric service dogs


Mike Sheffield via Hopes&Fears:

Service dogs for people with emotional disabilities and mental illnesses play a complex role in society and struggle for legitimacy. Hopes&Fears meets with the trainers of the canine companions most qualified to deal with the nuanced needs of people with PTSD and other “invisible” disabilities.

On an overcast Wednesday morning in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Lu and Dale Picard greet us at the door to the center for ECAD, or Educated Canines Assisting With Disabilities. The Picards founded the nonprofit organization in 1995 to train service dogs for people with different disabilities, from children with autism spectrum disorders to people with Parkinsons and Bipolar Disorder. Of the 300 dogs the Picards have bred, trained, and looked after, 40 have been for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While service dogs for people with physical disabilities are readily incorporated into our society, service dogs for people with emotional disorders or, as Dale puts it “invisible disabilities,” like PTSD have yet to see the same acceptance.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Landmark Schizophrenia Study Recommends Less Drugs and More Therapy

Therapy is more effective at managing schizophrenia than drugs.

via Mad in America:

Results of a large government-funded study call into question current drug-only approaches to treating people diagnosed with schizophrenia.  The study, which the New York Times called “by far the most rigorous trial to date conducted in the United States,” found that patients who received increased drug counseling along with individual talk therapy, family training, and support for employment and education experienced a greater reduction in symptoms, were more likely to resume work and school, and reported a higher quality of life than those receiving current standard treatments.

Current treatments for schizophrenia in the United States, or the control condition in this study, often require lifelong use of antipsychotic drugs.  Side effects from these drugs are so severe that almost three out of four patients stop taking their prescriptions, against medical advice, after a year and a half.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Should you get paid sick days for mental health?


Sophie Weiner writes at Hopes&Fears:

New York City has only recently adopted a policy mandating paid sick days for workers, but there are few other places in the country make that guarantee. And while Americans are still fighting for laws that will protect their jobs when they have the flu, it’s even harder to get time off for a mental health problem, even as mental illness reaches epidemic proportions.

In many places, it’s not widely accepted that mental illness is as valid a reason to miss work as purely physical illness. But should it be? And if so, how should it be handled?

We asked experts in mental health advocacy, employee rights and public health care if employers should treat mental illness the same way they treat physical illness when it comes to paid leave.

Brenda Roberts, Deputy Associate Director, Pay & Leave,U.S. Office of Personnel Management

The Federal Government supports employees who may be experiencing mental health concerns and need to take time away from their work responsibilities to seek medical attention.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Can Madness Save the World?

Ghost of Madness
Paris Williams writes at CounterPunch:

Over the years of my explorations into psychosis and human evolution, a very interesting irony became increasingly apparent. It is well known that people who fall into those deeply transformative and chaotic states typically referred to as “psychosis” often feel at different points throughout their journeys that they have received a special calling to save the world, or at least the human race. Indeed, this experience played a particularly prominent role in my own extreme states, as well as within those of at least two of my own family members. From a pathological perspective, this is often referred to as a kind of “delusion of grandeur,” though in my own research and writing, I have come to feel that the term “heroic (or messianic) striving” is generally more accurate and helpful. The great irony I have come to appreciate is that while I think it’s true that these individuals are often experiencing some degree of confusion, mixing up different realms of experience (for example, mixing up collective or archetypal realms with consensus reality, or confusing unitive consciousness with dualistic/egoic consciousness), I have come to feel that perhaps the key to saving the world, or at least the human species, may in fact actually be revealed within these extreme experiences.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Life and death under austerity

Austerity isn't working

In times of economic trouble, governments can choose to cut public services to save money. But at what cost? Mary O’Hara meets those on the sharp end of austerity in the UK to find out what it means for mental health.

When Mark Wood was found dead in his home in August 2013 it could have been just another tragic, but private, event for one family. But it wasn’t. His death came a few months after his disability benefits had been cut because he had been declared “fit for work” by the assessors appointed by the government to implement its “back-to-work” strategy. When his body was discovered he weighed just 5 st 8 lbs.

His sister Cathie said that 44-year-old Mark had struggled to live on just £40 a week after his disability and housing benefits were cut. She says that his ongoing mental health problems, including anxiety, obsessive traits and an eating disorder, were seriously aggravated by the extra stress.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

The echoes of the Prozac revolution


This article originally appeared on MindHacks.com. It has been published here under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Lancet Psychiatry has a fantastic article giving a much needed cultural retrospective on the wave of antidepressants like Prozac – which first made us worry we would no longer be our true selves through ‘cosmetic pharmacology,’ to the dawning realisation that they are unreliably useful but side-effect-ridden tools that can help manage difficult moods.

From their first appearance in the late 1980s until recently, SSRIs were an A-list topic of debate in the culture wars, and the rhetoric, whether pro or con, was red hot. Antidepressants were going to heal, or destroy, the world as we knew it.

Those discussions now feel dated. While antidepressants themselves are here to stay, they just don’t pulse with meaning the way they once did. Like the automobile or the telephone before them, SSRIs are a one-time miracle technology that have since become a familiar—even frumpy—part of the furniture of modern life.

Read the rest
Continue Reading