Tag Archives | Mental Health

Ketamine Is “The Most Important Discovery In 50 Years” For Treating Depression

So says a new review in the journal Science, which declares that the club drug is vastly more effective than the serotonin-boosting antidepressants typically prescribed for mood disorders. Via TIME Healthland:

It didn’t seem likely that a drug could repair brain cells within hours, but new research explored suggests just that. Ketamine rapidly spurs the growth of new synapses, the connections between brain cells, and is associated with “reversal of the atrophy caused by chronic stress,” the authors write.

Unfortunately, the hallucinogenic effects of ketamine mean that it can’t be used in the same way typical antidepressants are, and fears about its potential for misuse also hamper its development. Researchers are frantically trying to develop compounds that have the same effects as ketamine without producing a “high.”

In the meanwhile, however, ketamine is already FDA approved [...] But clinical use of the drug in the community remains rare. Fears about abuse continue to run high, though ketamine has never caught on as a major street drug.

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Thomas Szasz, Psychiatrist Who Disputed Existence of Mental Illness, Dies at 92

Picture: NIH (PD)

John Mariani reports for syracuse.com:

Dr. Thomas S. Szasz, a psychiatrist who questioned the existence of mental illness and fought against the forced treatment of patients, died Saturday at his home in Manlius. He was 92 and died from complications from a fall and a spinal compression fracture, his family said.

In “The Myth of Mental Illness,” published in 1961, Szasz argued that behaviors that colleagues attributed to diseases of the brain actually described “problems in living.” He called treating people against their will “a crime against humanity” in a 1992 profile in The Post-Standard.

“I am probably the only psychiatrist in the world whose hands are clean,” Szasz told the newspaper. “I have never committed anyone. I have never given electric shock. I have never, ever, given drugs to a mental patient.”

The approach Szasz rebelled against treated people as patients whose behavior somehow failed to meet the expectations of government or some other authority, said Dr.

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Mental Health is a Privilege

Pic: Christian R. Linder (CC)

First, before anyone gets into a tizzy because of the use of the word “privilege,” let me excerpt from the introduction to the Checklist of Neurotypical Privilege Sarah Langston refers to in her piece:

… For those who find themselves feeling defensive upon reading, you are not alone. For most of us, this is a necessary part of the process of acknowledging and understanding privilege. Here are a few basic things to remember about privilege:

Privilege is not your fault. It is an artifact of systems that favor some people over others, systems that have evolved naturally to meet the needs of the majority, but have failed to provide adequate accommodations for those outside it. For more information on understanding and confronting privilege, please see this link.

Privilege is not, in itself, a terrible thing. Having any form of privilege does not make you a bad person.

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The True Love Story of the Neurotic Christian and the Bipolar Secular Humanist

AnonMoos (CC)

Shawn Maxam writes at the Good Men Project:

I am of the opinion that nothing contributes to optimum mental health than a wonderful partner. Can the single individual be happy? Of course! One shouldn’t rely on others for happiness but also one should never deny that someone can help make you happy. Here are a few words about my story:

Rewind to the past: So five years ago is when I first met her. She looked nothing like I expected since we had only initially corresponded via email. She was smiling when I went to shake her hand and said “you thought I was a guy didn’t you?”. Truthfully I didn’t know what gender this person who had sent me an angry email was. I knew they were Black of course hence the outrage. I could expound upon on what are our disagreement was about…but it’s inconsequential to this story.

We decided to sit in the college’s cafe and discuss our differences.

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The Criminalization of the Mentally Ill

David Gonzalez is the recipient of the 1999 NYAPRS Brendan Nugent Leadership Award, the first person with a mental illness to receive the National AAPD Paul G. Hearne Award for People with Disabilities, and the recipient of the New York State Department of Mental Health’s Office of Consumer Affairs 2000 Consumer Advocacy Award. He writes at The American Mental Disability Clemency Organization:

Accurately identifying the various causes behind the criminalization of the mentally ill can only be accomplished by an impartial examination of our society’s preconceived notions of the mentally ill. This can be done by examining society’s treatment of the mentally ill throughout the course of history. Stigma clearly plays a major role in the criminalization of the mentally ill because of society’s inability to accept the dualistic and sometimes vile impulses of human nature inherent in all human beings. Therefore, society seeks to explain away unjustified acts of violence and aggression as symptoms of a mental illness, in effect scapegoating the mentally ill.

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Suicide Has Killed More Troops Than the War in Afghanistan This Year

Writes Alexander Abad-Santos on the Atlantic Wire:

This is a pretty terrible statistic: 154 active duty troops have committed suicide in the first 155 days of the new year–a rate alarmingly close to one per day. The number dead from suicides eclipses the U.S. forces killed in Afghanistan by about 50 percent.

For comparison, there were around 130 suicide deaths during the same time last year, reports The Associated Press’ Robert Burns. It’s difficult to wrap our brains around that number and that rate, and of course that statistic is just one more troubling recent finding from our troops. (Remember the reports that found that sexual assaults among members of the army were up 64 percent from 2006? Or the rise in alcohol abuse?) “It’s a sign in general of the stress the Army has been under over the 10 years of war,” Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, a psychiatrist and retired Army general told Burns. “We’ve seen before that these signs show up even more dramatically when the fighting seems to go down and the Army is returning to garrison.”…

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Why Some People Blame Themselves for Everything

Writes Stephanie Pappas on LiveScience:

People prone to depression may struggle to organize information about guilt and blame in the brain, new neuroimaging research suggests.

Crushing guilt is a common symptom of depression, an observation that dates back to Sigmund Freud. Now, a new study finds a communication breakdown between two guilt-associated brain regions in people who have had depression. This so-called “decoupling” of the regions may be why depressed people take small faux pas as evidence that they are complete failures.

“If brain areas don’t communicate well, that would explain why you have the tendency to blame yourself for everything and not be able to tie that into specifics,” study researcher Roland Zahn, a neruoscientist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, told LiveScience…

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Ron Paul on The Real Costs Of War

Ron Paul PeaceRon Paul writes on the Daily Bell:

This month Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced the addition of some 1,900 mental health nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to its existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff in attempt to get a handle on the epidemic of suicides among combat veterans. Unfortunately, when presidents misuse our military on an unprecedented scale – and Congress lets them get away with it – the resulting stress causes military suicides to increase dramatically, both among active duty and retired service members. In fact, military deaths from suicide far outnumber combat deaths. According to an article in the Air Force Times this month, suicides among airmen are up 40 percent over last year.

Considering the multiple deployments service members are forced to endure as the war in Afghanistan stretches into its second decade, these figures are sadly unsurprising.

Ironically, the same VA Secretary Eric Shinseki was forced to retire from the Army by President Bush for daring to suggest that an invasion and occupation of Iraq would not be the cakewalk that neoconservatives promised.

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Is War Porn A Natural By-Product of War?

Lynndie EnglandJoanna Schroeder wonders whether war porn is deviant, or a natural by-product of teaching young people to kill, on the Good Men Project:

The nation was shocked when we learned of more supposed bad behavior by US troops overseas, in the form of posing with the bodies of dead enemy combatants. This isn’t shocking news though, is it? It’s been happening since the beginning of this war, and as far as we know, as long as war has been happening, in one form or the other.

In a fascinating Salon.com piece, former infantry soldier and combat veteran John Rico an insider’s perspective on the function of so-called war porn, and wonders what it is about society that makes us so shocked to learn that young people who’ve been trained to fight and kill since they were 18 years old have reveled in the death of their enemies:

I have to say that I find all the political and polite posturing to be quite amusing.

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Talking to Yourself Makes You Smarter

Taxi DriverJamie Condliffe writes on Gizmodo:

Talking to yourself is the preserve of mad men, right? Not according to a new study, which reveals that the seemingly irrational act of chatting to oneself actually improves cognitive function.

The research, carried out by Gary Lupyan and Daniel Swingley, was inspired the pair’s experiences of seeing people audibly muttering to themselves when trying to find items on supermarket shelves. To test whether speaking to oneself was actually beneficial, Lupyan and Swingley devised a set of experiments.

In one experiment, volunteers were shown 20 pictures of everyday objects of the same kind and asked to search out a specific one. Initially participants were shown a piece of text telling them which object to find and left to complete the task in silence. Then, in subsequent tests involving different objects, the participants were asked to repeatedly say the name of the object they were searching for.

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