Tag Archives | Psychiatry

The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)

AdhdbrainFinally some tough questions are being asked about one of Big Pharma’s most successful manufactured “diseases,” ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The New York Times reports that the number of diagnoses soared amid a 20-year drug marketing campaign – and now it’s gearing up to persuade adults that they have ADHD just like their kids do:

After more than 50 years leading the fight to legitimize attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Keith Conners could be celebrating.

Severely hyperactive and impulsive children, once shunned as bad seeds, are now recognized as having a real neurological problem. Doctors and parents have largely accepted drugs like Adderall and Concerta to temper the traits of classic A.D.H.D., helping youngsters succeed in school and beyond.

But Dr. Conners did not feel triumphant this fall as he addressed a group of fellow A.D.H.D. specialists in Washington. He noted that recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Should Lithium Be Added To Drinking Water To Prevent Suicides?

lithiumMother Nature Network has the latest news on the previously discussed sort-of-logical-yet-profoundly-horrifying concept:

A study carried out in June of 2011 demonstrated that drinking water contaminated with lithium could actually lower suicide rates. So should lithium be added as a supplement to the water supply, as is done with fluoride?

In the study, 6,460 samples of drinking water were tested across 99 districts in Austria. Districts with higher levels of lithium tended to report lower suicide rates. In some areas lithium occurs naturally in the water supply, likely leached out of rocks and stones.

The results weren’t terribly shocking, as lithium has been used for decades to treat depression. This was the first time its effect was measured based on trace amounts within drinking water, however.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Amygdala Myths Revealed: It’s Not All About the Fear

1959_1028_tinglerNeurology has always interested me, and I still remember learning in my undergrad neuropsychology class  that the almond-shaped portion of the brain know as the amygdala was responsible for the emotion of fear. Like so many things we grow up hearing, the truth is a little more complicated, as BoingBoing science writer Maggie Koerth-Baker learns in her interview with scientist Paul Whalen. It turns out that fear is just easier to study.

BoingBoing:

Maggie Koerth-Baker: Your research shows that the amygdala does a lot more than just make us afraid. In fact, your research suggests that the idea of “fear” involves a lot more than just reacting to something scary. But where did these ideas come from, to begin with? Why do we think of the amygdala as a “fear center”?

Paul Whalen: In the early 1980s, the psychologists who wanted to study emotion had to pick one, and fear is the easiest to study in a human or animal.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Difference Between Mental Illness And Healthy Resistance

protestersVia Popular Resistance, psychologist Bruce E. Levine on when questioning authority is seen as a psychiatric disorder:

My experience as a clinical psychologist for almost three decades is that many young people labeled with psychiatric diagnoses are essentially anarchists in spirit who are pained, anxious, depressed, and angered by coercion, unnecessary rules, and illegitimate authority.

An often-used psychiatric diagnosis for children and adolescents is oppositional defiant disorder (ODD); its symptoms include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules” and “often argues with adults.”

I have encountered many people who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses, and who are now politically conscious anarchists. Teenagers often have an affinity for anti-authoritarianism, but most do not act on their beliefs in a manner that would make them vulnerable to violent reprisals by authorities. However, I have found that many young people diagnosed with mental disorders—perhaps owing to some combination of integrity, fearlessness, and naïvity—have acted on their beliefs in ways that threaten authorities.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Low Dose Psychedelics Allow Mice To Generate Neurons And Unlearn Conditioned Fear

psychedelics

Psychedelic Frontier reports on another study pointing to the immense power (and hazards) of psychedelics:

A new study of mice published in Experimental Brain Research shows that low doses (but not high doses) of psychedelics increase the rate of neuron creation in the hippocampus, and help the mice to rapidly unlearn conditioned fear responses.

Mice injected with low doses of PSOP [psilocybin] extinguished cued fear conditioning significantly more rapidly than high-dose PSOP or saline-treated mice. PSOP facilitates extinction of the conditioned fear response, and this, and similar agents, should be explored as potential treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions.

Research continues to confirm psychedelics’ ability to reduce the conditioned fear response, enabling patients to confront fearful stimuli without the usual baggage of anxiety and defense mechanisms.

With the right therapeutic approach, psychedelics allow us to rewire our brains in a positive manner. On the flip side, reckless use of these substances may cause lasting negative changes in the brain.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Former DSM Chairman Says The Psychiatric Manual Is Attempting To Turn Eccentricity Into An Illness

eccentricity into an illnessVia Wired, Allen Frances, chairman of the task force behind the previous edition of psychiatrists’ widely-used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, is vocally critical of the new DSM, arguing that it is part of a push toward over-medication:

Nature takes the long view, mankind the short. Nature picks diversity; we pick standardization. We are homogenizing our crops and homogenizing our people. And Big Pharma seems intent on pursuing a parallel attempt to create its own brand of human monoculture.

With an assist from an overly ambitious psychiatry, all human difference is being transmuted into chemical imbalance meant to be treated with a handy pill. Turning difference into illness was among the great strokes of marketing genius accomplished in our time.

Human diversity has its purposes or it would not have survived the evolutionary rat race. Human difference was never meant to be reducible to an exhaustive list of diagnoses drawn carelessly from a psychiatric manual.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Cultural Illness and the Curse of Shifting Sands, DSM V

Cultural Relativity

In evaluating dysfunction or illness, we have long followed the seemingly straightforward model of diagnose, treat, evaluate, iterate.

However, diagnosis has long been the secret — or not so secret — Achilles heel of the psychiatric establishment. Many philosophic issues arise, issues of cultural relativism, ethical issues of financial interests in pharmaceuticals, to name a few. These are issues that ‘by the book’ psychiatrists frequently dismiss as ‘merely philosophical.’ Indeed, it’s been a relatively long time since Freud or Jung were taken entirely seriously by the establishment doling out the meds. “By the book.” What is “the book”?

Since DSM-III (American Psychiatric Association 1980), disorders have been defined in terms of syndromes—that is, clusters of symptoms that covary together (see the section following, titled “Need to Explore the Possibility of Fundamental Changes . . .”). …

The major focus of field trials for DSM-III was establishing the reliability with which multiple clinicians could come to the same diagnostic conclusions when presented with a patient’s expressed signs and symptoms.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

NIMH Abandons the DSM-5

DSM-5_3DAndy Coghlan and Sara Reardon write at the New Scientist:

The world’s biggest mental health research institute is abandoning the new version of psychiatry’s “bible” – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, questioning its validity and stating that “patients with mental disorders deserve better”. This bombshell comes just weeks before the publication of the fifth revision of the manual, called DSM-5.

On 29 April, Thomas Insel, director of the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), advocated a major shift away from categorising diseases such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia according to a person’s symptoms. Instead, Insel wants mental disorders to be diagnosed more objectively using genetics, brain scans that show abnormal patterns of activity and cognitive testing.

This would mean abandoning the manual published by the American Psychiatric Association that has been the mainstay of psychiatric research for 60 years.

The DSM has been embroiled in controversy for a number of years.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

One In Five Teenage Boys Is Now Diagnosed With ADHD

The New York Times on mentally-imbalanced becoming the new normal:

Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent rise in the past decade. About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, which can drastically improve the lives of those with A.D.H.D. but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis.

Even more teenagers are likely to be prescribed medication in the near future because the American Psychiatric Association plans to change the definition of A.D.H.D.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Things That Could Get You Locked Up In A Nineteenth-Century Insane Asylum

What makes someone a menace to the world? The Knitting Genealogist on reasons given for why people were committed to the Retreat, a progressive asylum two hundred years ago:

Whilst researching, I was fascinated by the reasons people were certified and admitted to the asylum. On admission, patients had already been ‘certified’ and these certificates were placed in the Admission records. A common reason for admission was “Religious melancholy” or simply “Religion”. Here are just a handful of the most interesting answers, from the 1820s:

“A violent attachment to a female not approved by his friends.”

“Perhaps attending overmuch to business.”

“By fright, caused by a man (unknown) getting into his Lodging room, secreting himself under some Linen in a corner of the room, and after about five weeks after this he was attacked with the first fit…”

“A tedious confinement with an affected family”.

“Suppose a fear of not being able to pay his just debts owing to the depression of the times”.

Read the rest
Continue Reading