Tag Archives | Mental Illness

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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Heavy Teenage Cannabis Use Linked with Anxiety Disorders in Late 20s

Photo: Burning joint, Czech Republic (CC)

Newly published findings by the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne and published in Addiction show that heavy marijuana use by teenagers is likely to result in later adult anxiety disorders.

From the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Australia’s site:

Those who used frequently in their teens and continued to use on a daily basis at the age of 29 were three times as likely to have an anxiety disorder compared with non- or infrequent users. Those who used minimally in their teens but became daily users in their late 20s were two and a half times as likely to have an anxiety disorder. But the really striking finding say the authors is the persistent association between frequent teenage cannabis use and adult anxiety disorders up to a decade after cannabis use has ceased. The relationship between cannabis use and anxiety disorders was present even after the researchers took into account other possible explanations such as mental health problems in their teens or other drug use in their twenties.

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More on Solar Storms and Major Mental Illness

According to NASA, 2013 is shaping up to be quite a year for solar activity. The end of the 11-year solar cycle comes with the promise of coronal mass ejections, solar flares, heat waves, and possibly major mental illness. The connection between solar activity and MMI is not a new concept. There has been growing evidence that solar magnetic storms affect human physiology and pathophysiology. In fact, the idea spawned a branch of biophysics called Heliobiology, pioneered by Russian scientist Alexander Chizhevsky almost 100 years ago.

As a recent Washington Times article noted The Institute of North Industrial Ecology Problems (INEP), an organization founded in 1989 to research ecology in Northern Russia, found:

“From 1949-1997…. geomagnetic activity showed three seasonal peaks each of those years (March to May, in July, and in October). Every peak matched an increased incidence of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and suicide in the city Kirovsk.”

Many studies have theorized on the relationship between increased solar activity and it’s effect on melatonin production in the pineal gland of the brain.

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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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Is One Out Of Ten Wall Street Workers A Psychopath?

MCDAMPS EC020With clinical psychopaths dramatically overrepresented in finance, one can only assume that mentally healthy workers must learn to imitate psychopathic behavior to remain employed. Via the Huffington Post:

One out of every 10 Wall Street employees is likely a clinical psychopath, writes the trade publication CFA Magazine. In the general population the rate is closer to one out of every 100.

Journalist Sherree DeCovny pulls together research from several psychologists for her story, which helpfully suggests that financial firms carefully screen out extreme psychopaths in hiring.

A clinical psychopath is bright and charming, writes DeCovny. He lies easily, and may have trouble feeling empathy for other people. He’s more willing to take dangerous risks…the outcomes matter less than the gambles themselves — and the chemical rush of serotonin and endorphins that accompanies them.

This is hardly the first time that mental illness has been equated with a certain capacity for professional success — especially in the financial sector, where some stock traders have actually scored higher than diagnosed psychopaths on tests that measure competitiveness and attraction to risk.

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Mysterious Tourettes-Like Tics Strike Teen Population Of New York Town

800px-Downtown_Le_Roy,_NYCan this really be a case of youthful “mass hysteria”? Feel bad for the left-out teens who have not acquired the exciting mystery illness. Via MSNBC:

The mystery illness now producing Tourette’s-like symptoms in a more than a dozen girls from upstate New York is also affecting a 36-year-old who is experiencing the same tics as the teens. Some neurologists have suggested the illness could be “conversion disorder,” or mass hysteria.

High school student Thera Sanchez, 17, and 14 others started experiencing the odd symptoms last fall: stammering, verbal outbursts and limb spasms.

The teens’ plight captured the attention of environmental activist Erin Brockovich, who began speaking out about a 1970 train accident that spilled cyanide and industrial solvent four miles from the teens’ school, LeRoy Junior-Senior High School. According to a 1999 Environmental Protection Agency report, approximately 35,000 gallons of TCE (trichloroethene) contaminated the area near the derailment.

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Twenty Percent Of Americans Had Mental Illness In Last Year

A shocking statistic, made worse when you learn that 60% of the mentally ill did not receive any treatment. From MedPage Today:

About 20% of American adults reported having had a mental illness during the preceding year, a government survey found.

The figure rose to almost 30% of those in the 18 to 25 age group, compared with 14.3% of patients 50 and older, according to researchers from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

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And of the nearly 46 million U.S. adults who reported having had a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder when surveyed in 2010, some 60% didn’t receive any treatment for the condition.

The most common reason for not getting mental healthcare was not being able to afford it.

The researchers noted that although the 20% figure is “relatively high,” just 5% reported having serious issues that interfered with their normal activities.

Although more of those with serious mental illness reported receiving treatment, a large proportion — 39% — didn’t receive any mental health services.

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On Living As A Real-Life Psychopath

americanpsycho2Wondering what it would be like to walk in Patrick Bateman’s shoes? From author Jon Ronson, a letter he received in response to The Psychopath Test, his much-talked-about book published a couple months ago, from a young psychopath (who felt no or guilt or emotion, but an overwhelming urge to prey on others). Can you empathize?

I just saw your interview on Australia’s ABC 7:30 report on ‘The Psychopath Test’ and wanted to share my experience. I hope that it can remain confidential for the time being, seeing as it is quite personal.

But, when I was 19 (I’m 26-27 now) I went into long-term therapy – for psychopathy.

My case was rather unusual in that I self-referred. The mental health agency had not had a walk-in of this kind before. In the lead up, I had found myself becoming overwhelmed with a predatorial instinct that I could not shake – I’d sit, watching crowds of people go by, driven to mania by what I saw as their limitless inferiorities.

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40 Percent Of Europeans Have Mental Illness

blogstagefright2The percentage will only increase, with an aging population, the stresses of modern life, et cetera, which leads to the question: What happens when the majority of the public across an entire continent are classified as ‘mentally ill’? Via Reuters:

Europeans are plagued by mental and neurological illnesses, with almost 165 million people or 38 percent of the population suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia, according to a large new study.

With only about a third of cases receiving the therapy or medication needed, mental illnesses cause a huge economic and social burden — measured in the hundreds of billions of euros — as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal relationships break down.

“The immense treatment gap … for mental disorders has to be closed,” said Hans Ulrich Wittchen, director of the institute of clinical psychology and psychotherapy at Germany’s Dresden University and the lead investigator on the European study.

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