DISTURBING report finds that 20 million American schoolchildren have been prescribed antidepressants


Image: DISTURBING report finds that 20 million American schoolchildren have been prescribed antidepressants

In many ways the world is a far more complex, difficult place to live in now than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Social media places children under increasing pressure – and at an ever decreasing age – to look perfect, have limitless “friends” and lead apparently perfect lives. Many parents work longer hours than in previous decades, leaving them with little time and energy to spend with their kids. And children are under immense pressure to perform academically and on the sports field.

In previous years, kids could generally be found playing outside with their friends or chatting to them on the phone, but modern society leaves children isolated from one another, spending more time with virtual “friends” than real-life ones. Many spend most of their time online, hardly ever venturing outside.

This toxic mix of external pressures and isolation can leave children, particularly those struggling through adolescence, feeling depressed and confused. The solution for many parents and healthcare professionals is to simply prescribe them antidepressant medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This “solution” is so widely favored, in fact, that a disturbing report by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights found that around 20 million American schoolchildren have been prescribed these dangerous drugs.

Antidepressant use in children rises sharply in seven years

Antidepressant medications are, in fact, not recommended for children under the age of 18, but you would never know that if you were to judge by the way doctors hand out prescriptions for these drugs like candy.

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According to the Daily Mail, a study recently published in the European Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, which studied antidepressant use in children under the age of 18 in five western countries, found that there was an alarming increase in the number of prescriptions for these drugs between 2005 and 2012.

In Denmark, prescriptions for children increased by 60 percent; prescription numbers soared more than 54 percent in the United Kingdom; in Germany, they rose by 49 percent; the United States saw a 26 percent increase; and there was a 17 percent increase in antidepressant prescriptions for children in the Netherlands during that period.

This is shocking because a 2016 study published in the respected British Medical Journal, which evaluated the mental health of 18,500 children prescribed antidepressant medications, found that not only are the benefits of these drugs “below what is clinically relevant” (i.e. they don’t work), but children taking them are twice as likely to exhibit suicidal or aggressive behaviors than children who do not.

The study also found that the drug manufacturers are not only aware of this fact but that they actively try to hide the risks by labeling suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts as “worsening of depression” or “emotional liability” rather than admitting that they are side effects of the medication.

“Despite what you’ve been led to believe, antidepressants have repeatedly been shown in long-term scientific studies to worsen the course of mental illness — to say nothing of the risks of liver damage, bleeding, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and reduced cognitive function they entail,” warned holistic women’s health psychiatrist, Dr. Kelly Brogan, writing for Green Med Info. “The dirtiest little secret of all is the fact that antidepressants are among the most difficult drugs to taper from, more so than alcohol and opiates.

“While you might call it ‘going through withdrawal,’ we medical professionals have been instructed to call it ‘discontinuation syndrome,’ which can be characterized by fiercely debilitating physical and psychological reactions. Moreover, antidepressants have a well-established history of causing violent side effects, including suicide and homicide. In fact, five of the top 10 most violence-inducing drugs have been found to be antidepressants.”

This doesn’t mean that our children need to be left to struggle through depression and isolation without any help, however. Experts recommend family, individual and other therapies, lifestyle changes including exercise and dietary changes, and spending more time outdoors with family and friends as healthy, side-effect-free ways to help kids cope.

Learn more about the dangers of antidepressant drugs at Psychiatry.news.

Sources include:

GreenMedInfo.com

Independent.co.uk

DailyMail.co.uk

ScienceDaily.com

Susceptibility to Mental Illness May Have Helped Humans Adapt over the Millennia


Psychiatrist Randolph Nesse, one of the founders of evolutionary medicine, explains why natural selection did not rid our species of onerous psychiatric disorders

Susceptibility to Mental Illness May Have Helped Humans Adapt over the Millennia

Nearly one in five Americans currently suffers from a mental illness, and roughly half of us will be diagnosed with one at some point in our lives. Yet, these occurrences may have nothing to do with a genetic flaw or a traumatic event.

Randolph Nesse, a professor of life sciences at Arizona State University, attributes high rates of psychiatric disorders to natural selection operating on our genes without paying heed to our emotional well-being. What’s more, the selective processes took place thousands of years before the unique stresses of modern urban existence, leading to a mismatch between our current environment and the one for which we were adapted.

In his new book, Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry, Nesse recruits the framework of evolutionary medicine to make a case for why psychiatric disorders persist despite their debilitating consequences. Some conditions, like depression and anxiety, may have developed from normal, advantageous emotions. Others, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, result from genetic mutations that may have been beneficial in less extreme manifestations of a trait. Scientific American spoke to Nesse about viewing psychiatry through an evolutionary lens to help both patients and clinicians.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

A big part of your thesis is that some traits of mental disorders can be advantageous or adaptive—a depressed mood, for instance, might be beneficial for us. Where do you draw the line between the normal spectrum of emotion and pathology?

You can’t decide what’s normal and what’s abnormal until you understand the ordinary function of any trait—whether it’s vomiting or cough or fever or nausea. You start with its normal function and in what situation it gives selected advantages. But there are a lot of places where natural selection has shaped mechanisms that express these defenses when they’re not needed, and very often that emotional response is painful and unnecessary in that instance. Then there’s a category of emotions that make us feel bad but benefit our genes. A lot of sexual longings [extramarital affairs or unrequited love], for instance, don’t do us any good at all, but they might potentially benefit our genes in the long run.

So it’s not saying that these emotions are useful all the time. It’s the capacity for these emotions that is useful. And the regulation systems [that control emotion] were shaped by natural selection—so sometimes they’re useful for us, sometimes they’re useful for our genes, sometimes it’s false alarms in the system and sometimes the brain is just broken. We shouldn’t try to make any global generalizations, we should examine every patient individually and try to understand what’s going on.

In the book you suggest that low mood could be advantageous for two very separate reasons. One of the motivators is to shift strategies to escape a situation, and the other is to have people stop striving and conserve energy. How do you reconcile these opposing theories?

It’s intuitively obvious that when an organism, not just a human, is wasting energy trying to pursue a goal and not making progress, it’s best to wait and slow down and not waste energy. Then if nothing works—even when you try to find a new strategy—to give up that goal completely.

Of course for we humans, it’s not always seeking out nuts and fruits and berries. We’re trying to garner social resources, and that creates inordinate complexity and competition. And it’s not so easy to give up looking for a marital partner or give up looking for a job; we can’t just do that. These moods are guiding us to try to put effort into things that are going to work instead of things that are not going to work. That doesn’t mean we should just follow them, but it does mean respecting them more and trying to figure out what they might be telling us about the things we’re trying to do in life.

Could treating someone with antidepressants be disadvantageous, then, if low mood is a normal coping mechanism?

Evolutionary psychology I see very much as a subset of evolutionary medicine in general. And one of the most practically useful insights of evolutionary medicine is that we should be analyzing the costs and benefits of blocking every single defensive response, whether it’s fever or pain or nausea or vomiting or cough or fatigue. Usually because of the “smoke detector” principle you can block these things safely. [The principle is Nesse’s theory that an overactive fight-or-flight response that causes false alarms—and potentially an anxiety disorder—is better than an underactive system that fails to alert you to danger and could result in death.]

Some people have said that because I say low mood can be useful, I think we shouldn’t treat it with medications. I say exactly the opposite. Once you know that low mood is usually not helpful even though it’s normal, you go ahead and relieve it however you can.

You talk a lot about genes in the book, but also how we’ve come up short in looking for genes for depression or schizophrenia. What role do you think genes play in the evolutionary model of the mental illness?

First of all, there are two very different categories of illness that should be kept separate. One is the emotional disorders, which are potentially normal, useful responses to situations. And in all such responses, variability and sensitivity are influenced by lots of different genes.

There are also mental disorders that are the most severe ones that are just plain old genetic diseases: bipolar disease and autism and schizophrenia. They’re genetic diseases, and whether you get them or not is overwhelmingly dependent on what genes you have. But why would a strong, inheritable trait that cuts fitness by half not be selected against? I think this is one of the deepest mysteries in psychiatry.

What could be some of the potential benefit of these latter conditions or other uses for these genes?

For bipolar disease, the reduction in the number of offspring is not very great at all, so it might be that there’s not much selection acting there. And what if a tendency to be bipolar resulted in having even more children? What would happen then? Well it [the gene] would become universal, even though it caused bipolar disease. Maybe something like this has already happened. Maybe many of us have tendencies to grand ambitions and mood swings that probably aren’t good for us but might lend to grand successes on occasion, and that might lead to great reproductive success.

Then there’s the “cliff edge” effect, which is the possibility that some traits are pushed very far towards a peak that’s close to a place where fitness collapses for a few percent of the population. This could be a new way of looking at all of these diseases in which we have many genes with small effects. It might be that what we should be looking for is the fitness landscape and not assume that the genes involved are abnormal.

What do you hope patients or clinicians can gain from reading your book?

I find many of my patients feel like they’re abnormal if they are told, “You have an anxiety disorder, you have a depressive disorder.” Talk with them a little bit about the fact that there are advantages to anxiety and that low moods might have meaning. It might not just be something that’s broken in you, it might be that your emotions are trying to tell you something. I think that makes many people feel less like they’re defective.

Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14


An invigilator monitors pupils during a GCSE mathematics exam at the Harris Academy South Norwood in south east London, March 2, 2012   REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Mental illness can strike anyone at any time in their life. In fact, more than 350 million people across the world – of all ages and from all communities – suffer from depression. But half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And it is that shocking statistic which is the focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day.

 

The good news is we are learning to better understand and deal with mental health issues. Here are some key developments.

 

Early intervention

While half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, most cases go undetected and untreated.

Teenagers and young adults have many changes to deal with, including changing schools, leaving home and starting university or a new job. This can lead to stress and apprehension. In some cases, if not recognized and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness.

In some countries, the formative years of a child’s life have been dominated by conflict and upheaval, leaving these young people particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness.

 

In terms of the burden of disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause, while suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds. Harmful use of alcohol, drugs and eating disorders are also cause for concern.

Despite this troubling picture, the WHO says there is a growing recognition of the importance of helping young people build mental resilience at an early age. Parents and teachers can help young people build life skills that help them cope with everyday challenges at home and school. More schools are launching initiatives such as mindfulness and meditation, and some provide psycho-social support.

This does however require investment from governments. And that investment needs to work in tandem with programmes to raise awareness, helping peers, parents and teachers know how to support their friends, children and students.

Mental Health Facts in the US

Image: National Alliance on Mental Illness

The role of genetics

Research has shown that 30-40% of the risk for both depression and anxiety is genetic and 60-70% is due to environmental factors, according to the National Institute for Health Research.

 

Now, the NIHR and King’s College London are calling for 40,000 people diagnosed with depression or anxiety to join what they say will be the largest ever database of volunteers.

The researchers plan to explore the genetic factors behind the two most common mental health conditions – anxiety and depression.

 

“It’s a really exciting time to become involved in mental health research, particularly genetic research which has made incredible strides in recent years – we have so far identified 46 genetic links for depression and anxiety,” explains Dr Gerome Breen of King’s College London.

“By recruiting 40,000 volunteers willing to be re-contacted for research, the study will take us further than ever before. It will allow researchers to solve the big unanswered questions, address how genes and environment act together and help develop new treatment options.”

 

Technology and the brain

 

Conventional wisdom suggests that spending too much time online is in some ways detrimental to the human brain and mental health.

And there is a growing body of scientific work pointing to the dangers of a digital lifestyle. For example, neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley has written a book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World which explores how internet-connected devices degrade our attention, and have implications for mental health and stress levels in the workplace.

 

However, many scientists also believe that technology can be harnessed to address mental health issues, and there has been a proliferation of apps aimed at wellbeing.

For example, the Happify app promises to reduce stress and anxiety by providing happiness games and activities. The basic principle is that you can change and modify the brain by training it as if it were a muscle – a theory called neuroplasticity. By adopting new thinking habits, its users can overcome negative thought patterns and learn to cope with everyday stresses.

 

The app already has 3.5 million users, and claims to help people with schizophrenia, clinical depression and chronic illnesses.

There is also growing scientific evidence that points to the success of online therapy.

In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence which provides national guidance on improving healthcare, has approved the use of online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

 

CBT is one of the well-established talking therapies, but now scientists recognize that it is sometimes easier for people to open up to a machine rather than a human being. CBT is also notoriously expensive and time-consuming, so technology may also allow for treatment to become more widely available.

 

A policy priority

 

World leaders have recognized the importance of mental health and well-being by including it in the Sustainable Development Agenda, which was adopted at the UN’s General Assembly in September 2015.

As part of Goal 3, world leaders have committed to the “prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases, including behavioural, developmental and neurological disorders, which constitute a major challenge for sustainable development”.

The then Director-General of the WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, explained the significance of the decision, saying it will help the world achieve greater fairness.

 

“The inclusion of noncommunicable diseases under the health goal is an historic turning point. Finally these diseases are getting the attention they deserve,” she says.

Specific goals include reducing premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by one third by 2030 and strengthening the prevention and treatment of substance abuse including narcotic drug and alcohol use.

 

It is through this type of ongoing commitment, as well as the growing awareness of mental health issues, that progress can be made.

8 Health Conditions That Disproportionately Affect Black Women


And what you can do to prevent some of them
black-women-diseases-health-conditions

Although being black in this world certainly comes with its struggles, I wouldn’t trade that integral part of my identity for anything. Black-girl magic is real. But it’s a sad fact that black women are often plagued with disproportionately high incidences or mortality rates for various health conditions, like heart diseasebreast cancer, and more.

It sounds scary—and it can be—but knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your physical and mental health. Here are eight health conditions black women should be especially aware of, plus how to best prevent them.

1. Heart disease, stroke, and diabetes

These conditions often occur together or exacerbate each other, and they’re striking black women hard.

Around 7.6 percent of black women have heart disease, compared to 5.8 percent of white women and 5.6 percent of Mexican-American women, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2011-2013. In 2016, around 46 of every 100,000 black women died from strokes, while 35 of every 100,000 white women did. And while white women’s diabetes diagnosis rate is 5.4 per 100, that number is 9.9 per 100 for black women, according to CDC data from 1980-2014—almost double.

Infographic of the heart disease/stroke/diabetes racial disparities

A group of risk factors known as metabolic syndrome increases a person’s chance of getting these diseases. These risk factors include having a waist circumference above 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men, high levels of triglycerides (fat in the blood), a low HDL (“good”) cholesterol level, high blood pressure, and high fasting blood sugar.

Someone must have at least three of these factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, but having even one can signal higher chances of getting heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Those first two are particularly lethal, killing one woman about every 80 seconds.

The black community’s obesity crisis is a symbol of just how at-risk this segment of the population is. “The vast majority of African-American adult women are either overweight or obese,” Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, tells SELF. While 37.6 percent of black men ages 20 or over are obese according to the latest data, that number jumps to 56.9 percent for black women. It stands at 36.2 percent for white women.

Various genetic components are likely at play with metabolic syndrome—for instance, some research points to a gene that might make black people more sensitive to salt, thus influencing blood pressure—but much of this issue is societal.

“It’s the foods we eat—many communities don’t have easy access to healthier options,” Dr. Hutcherson says. A 2013 study in Preventive Medicine found that “poor, predominantly black neighborhoods face…the most limited access to quality food.” Dr. Hutcherson also cites stress and adds that a lack of exercise can be a problem, too, if it’s hard to get access to a gym or the neighborhood isn’t safe.

Lifestyle changes like eating better, exercising, and stopping smoking can prevent 80 percent of heart disease events and stroke and lower people’s chances of developing diabetes, according to the CDC. But clearly, that’s sometimes easier said than done.

2. Breast cancer

Black women have a 1 in 9 chance of developing breast cancer; for white women the odds are 1 in 8, according to the American Cancer Society. But black women are more likely to die from the disease: White women’s probability of dying from breast cancer is 1 in 37, while black women’s is 1 in 31.

“The reasons why black women are more likely to die [from breast cancer than other groups] are very complex,” Adrienne Phillips, M.D., oncologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, tells SELF, citing “an interplay between genetics, biology, and environment.”

Along with BRCA mutations (which may be higher in black women than experts previously thought), black women are more likely to get triple-negative breast cancer—a particularly aggressive form of the disease—than women of other races. Then there are the environmental factors Dr. Phillips mentions, like socioeconomic issues that lead to trouble accessing early diagnosis and treatment.

Much like metabolic syndrome, lowering your risk of getting breast cancer mainly comes down to exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, not going overboard on alcohol, and quitting smoking. And even though major organizations haven’t found a notable benefit from breast self-exams, many doctors strongly recommend you check your breasts monthly so you’re aware of any changes.

3. Cervical cancer

Research published in January in the journal Cancer found that not only are black women more likely to die of cervical cancer than women of other races, they’re also 77 percent more likely to die from it than experts previously thought. Prior estimates said 5.7 black women per 100,000 would die of the disease, but this new research puts the number at 10.1 per 100,000.

“Unlike breast cancer, cervical cancer is absolutely preventable in this day and age,” Dr. Phillips says. “In 2017, no woman should be diagnosed with cervical cancer.”

That’s partly because the HPV vaccine is excellent at preventing infection of certain strains of human papillomavirus that can go on to cause cancer. But as of August 2016, only 6 out of 10 girls ages 13 to 17 and 5 of 10 boys in the same age range had started the vaccine series, which doctors recommend getting before age 26 for optimal results. Racial disparities are relevant here—a 2014 report from the CDC showed that around 71 percent of white girls 13 to 17 had completed the three-shot series, compared with about 62 percent of black girls in that age group. (The CDC changed these recommendations in 2016: It now says only two doses are necessary for optimal protection if the patient is between 11 and 12, but three are still ideal if the patient is between 15 and 26.)

Timely Pap smears are also wonderfully effective at preventing full-blown cervical cancer. “A Pap smear will detect preinvasive cervical cancer, but…studies have shown women who are having Pap smears may not get appropriate follow-up,” Dr. Phillips says. “A number of barriers exist for proper follow-up, and African-American women may be more vulnerable.”

Another potential factor, though, may be racial disparities in cervical cancertreatment. A 2014 study published in Plos One found that black women in Maryland were significantly less likely than white women to get surgery for cervical cancer instead of radiation or chemotherapy.

“Equivalent treatments are not being administered to white and black patients with cervical cancer in Maryland,” the study authors concluded. “Differences in care may contribute to racial disparities in outcomes for women with cervical cancer.”

A 2016 study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reached a similar conclusion. The study looked at more than 16,000 patients who had received care for advanced cervical cancer, finding that white women received National Cancer Institute guideline–based care 58 percent of the time, black women 53 percent of the time, and Hispanic women 51.5 percent of the time.

4. Fibroids

Black women are three times more likely than women of other races to get uterine fibroids, noncancerous tumors in the walls of the uterus, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. Fibroids are largely genetic, and there’s no known way to prevent them.

“Most of the time, women don’t know they have fibroids because they don’t have symptoms,” Dr. Hutcherson says. “But when [the fibroids] start to grow or increase in number, they can cause a large number of problems, from pain to bleeding to miscarriages, to problems with urination and problems with bowel movements.”

When fibroids do make themselves known, the first sign is often heavy bleedingor pelvic pain, Dr. Hutcherson says.

These symptoms can have a lot of other causes, but if you do have fibroids, you and your doctors can work on a treatment plan. To tackle heavy bleeding and pelvic pain, your doctor may recommend hormonal birth control. But doctors can also perform a myomectomy to remove the fibroids or use techniques like uterine artery embolization and radiofrequency ablation to either block the fibroid from getting nutrients or shrink it.

If you’re done having children or are not interested in having them in the first place, as a last resort, doctors can perform a hysterectomy to put a definitive end to fibroids. Since this makes it impossible to get pregnant, it’s an incredibly delicate decision that varies from woman to woman.

5. Premature delivery

Giving birth prematurely, or going into labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy, can predispose a child to breathing issues, digestive problems, brain bleeding, and long-term developmental delays. It can also lead to death—the earlier a baby is born, the higher this danger becomes.

Unfortunately, black women are particularly susceptible to going into labor too early. According to the CDC, the 2015 preterm birth rate in black women was 13 percent; for white women it was 9 percent.

Infographic of the preterm birth rate racial disparity

“This is multifactorial—it can be affected by obesity, by stress, by diet, by increased vaginal infections, and the decreased access to care in some of our populations,” Dr. Hutcherson says. Women having access to prenatal care is incredibly important for slashing the risk of preterm birth, but when socioeconomics come into the picture, it becomes a complex situation with too few solutions. However, the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health is working on a variety of state- and national-level initiatives to reduce preterm birth in all women.

6. Sickle cell disease

This is an umbrella term for a collection of inherited, lifelong blood disorders that around 1 of every 365 black babies is born with, according to the CDC. Sickle cell disease is caused by a sickle hemoglobin, which happens when the structure of a person’s hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen to the red blood cells, is abnormal. Instead of being circular, their red blood cells can look like sickles, a C-shaped farming tool, Dr. Phillips explains.

Sickle-shaped red blood cells can get destroyed in the blood stream, so patients may become anemic. These cells can also clog blood vessels, which can lead to infection, chest pain, and even stroke. And if a pregnant woman has sickle cell disease, it increases the probability of miscarriage, premature birth, and having a baby with a low birth weight, according to the March of Dimes.

Black women who are considering children should get screened for sickle cell no matter what, Dr. Phillips says. It’s possible to not have the disease but have the sickle cell trait, meaning you inherited one sickle cell gene and one normal gene from your parents. If your partner also has sickle cell trait, there is a 25 percent chance your child will inherit sickle cell disease. According to a CDC estimate from 2014, 73 out of every 1,000 black newborns was born with sickle cell trait, compared with 3 out of every 1,000 white newborns.

With proper care and caution to avoid complications, kids with sickle cell disease can live healthy, happy lives, Phillips says—it’s essential for their parents to get the proper education about how to keep them safe.

7. Sexually transmitted diseases

Here’s a bit of good news: Rates of reported chlamydia cases in black people decreased 11.2 percent from 2011 to 2015, according to the CDC. There was a similar downward trend with gonorrhea, which declined 4 percent in that time frame. But black women still outpace other groups when it comes to new diagnoses of these diseases, along with new diagnoses of syphilis.

This problem also extends to HIV/AIDS. Besides black men, black women comprise a majority of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses per year (although the number is thankfully falling). For example, according to the CDC, in 2015, 4,524 black women were diagnosed with HIV in the United States, while 1,431 white women and 1,131 Hispanic/Latina women received the same diagnosis.

“It’s not like black women are having more sex than anyone else,” Dr. Hutcherson says. “Access to good preventive care is the crux of it—if [women] could see health care providers on a regular basis and be educated about what they should be doing to take care of themselves, we probably wouldn’t have as much of a problem.”

Economic insecurity is also an element—condoms and dental dams cost money, after all—as is a general reticence to discuss safe sex.

“There’s a stigma around talking about sex, so people engage in risky sexual activity without protection,” Dr. Hutcherson says.

8. Mental health issues

In addition to the usual biological culprits that can contribute to mental illnessissues, economic insecurity and racism can negatively impact mental health status in the black community.

Overall, black people are 10 percent more likely to report experiencing serious psychological distress than white people, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

“In 2017, we still face a lot of economic insecurity and racism in general. It’s a problem that causes stress and anxiety, which then can lead into depression, and that’s something we never discuss,” Dr. Hutcherson says. “I wish we could make it more acceptable to talk about this and seek care.” Just like in many other cultures, the black community is wrestling with the stigma of seeking help for mental distress. There’s also the reduced access to this kind of counseling in the first place, and the fact that mental health care can be prohibitively expensive. Many counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists don’t take health insurance, which may deter people from getting the help they need. Combined, these factors resulted in 9.4 percent of black adults getting mental health treatment or some form of counseling in 2014 versus 18.8 percent of white people age 18 and older, per the Office of Minority Health.

Black women are especially vulnerable to wrestling with their mental health, consistently reporting higher feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and the sense that everything is an effort than white women do. “Black women are frequently the pillars of our community, taking care of everyone’s health but our own,” Dr. Phillips says. “But it’s very important for women to practice self-care and not forget about themselves when trying to be so strong.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, help is out there. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a comprehensive page about mental health concerns in the black community and a help line that operates Monday through Friday, 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. NAMI also provides a list of 25 different help lines people can turn to when they need support.

Depression Not Just A Mental Illness; It’s A Systemic Disease That Affects The Entire Body


For those living with it, depression can be all-consuming. It casts a haze over work, relationships, and everyday social interactions, affecting every aspect of a person’s life. People often think depression solely affects the mind because it’s classified as a mental disorder. A new study has shown, however, that depression is more like a systemic disease that affects the entire body.

Depression

A team of researchers led by the University of Granada decided to study what happens to the entire body of people who suffer from depression, and focused on stress factors. They conducted a meta-analysis, incorporating 29 previous studies composed of over 3,900 people. The researchers, led by Granada PhD student Sara Jiménez-Fernández, compared patients with depression to healthy controls before and after treatment.

The study, the first work of its kind, found that depression causes an imbalance in the body’s cells called oxidative stress. After receiving the usual treatment for depression, the patients’ levels of malondialdehyde, a biomarker signaling cell deterioration and indicator for oxidative stress, significantly declined from a previously elevated state — so much so that they were indistinguishable from healthy individuals. Zinc and uric acid levels,which drop during times of oxidative stress, also rose until reaching normal levels.

Though this is the first time scientists have shown depression is a systemic disease rather than just a mental one, depression patients have always complained of physical symptoms. Those suffering from depression have commonly reported both insomnia and oversleeping, along with chronic fatigue and decreased appetite for both food and sex.

The results, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, could explain the significant association between depression and other ailments, including cardiovascular diseases and cancer. It could also shed light on why depression patients tend to have shorter lifespans than non-depressed people.

Source: Jiménez-Fernández S, Gurpegui M, Diaz-Atienza F, Perez Costillas L, Gerstenberg M, Correll C. Oxidative Stress and Antioxidant Parameters in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder Compared to healthy Controls Before and After Antidepressant Treatment: Results From a Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2016.

Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness


Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness
The growing trend of taking smartphone selfies is linked to mental health conditions that focus on a person’s obsession with looks.

According to psychiatrist Dr David Veal: “Two out of three of all the patients who come to see me with Body Dysmorphic Disorder since the rise of camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take and post selfies on social media sites.”

“Cognitive behavioural therapy is used to help a patient to recognise the reasons for his or her compulsive behaviour and then to learn how to moderate it,” he told the Sunday Mirror.

A British male teenager tried to commit suicide after he failed to take the perfect selfie. Danny Bowman became so obsessed with capturing the perfect shot that he spent 10 hours a day taking up to 200 selfies. The 19-year-old lost nearly 30 pounds, dropped out of school and did not leave the house for six months in his quest to get the right picture. He would take 10 pictures immediately after waking up. Frustrated at his attempts to take the one image he wanted, Bowman eventually tried to take his own life by overdosing, but was saved by his mom.

“I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn’t, I wanted to die. I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life,” he told The Mirror.

The teenager is believed to be the UK’s first selfie addict and has had therapy to treat his technology addiction as well as OCD and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Part of his treatment at the Maudsley Hospital in London included taking away his iPhone for intervals of 10 minutes, which increased to 30 minutes and then an hour.

“It was excruciating to begin with but I knew I had to do it if I wanted to go on living,” he told the Sunday Mirror.

Public health officials in the UK announced that addiction to social media such as Facebook and Twitter is an illness and more than 100 patients sought treatment every year.

“Selfies frequently trigger perceptions of self-indulgence or attention-seeking social dependence that raises the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t spectre of either narcissism or very low self-esteem,” said Pamela Rutledge in Psychology Today.

The big problem with the rise of digital narcissism is that it puts enormous pressure on people to achieve unfeasible goals, without making them hungrier. Wanting to be Beyoncé, Jay Z or a model is hard enough already, but when you are not prepared to work hard to achieve it, you are better off just lowering your aspirations. Few things are more self-destructive than a combination of high entitlement and a lazy work ethic. Ultimately, online manifestations of narcissism may be little more than a self-presentational strategy to compensate for a very low and fragile self-esteem. Yet when these efforts are reinforced and rewarded by others, they perpetuate the distortion of reality and consolidate narcissistic delusions.

The addiction to selfies has also alarmed health professionals in Thailand. “To pay close attention to published photos, controlling who sees or who likes or comments them, hoping to reach the greatest number of likes is a symptom that ‘selfies’ are causing problems,” said Panpimol Wipulakorn, of the Thai Mental Health Department.

The doctor believed that behaviours could generate brain problems in the future, especially those related to lack of confidence.

The word “selfie” was elected “Word of the Year 2013″ by the Oxford English Dictionary. It is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”.

1. The Gym Selfie (Because the checkin isn’t enough.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Gym Selfie (Because the checkin isn’t enough.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Gym Selfie (Because the checkin isn’t enough.)

2. The Pet Selfie (If you want to post a picture of your pet, post a picture of your pet.)
Unless this happens, then it’s ok:
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Pet Selfie (If you want to post a picture of your pet, post a picture of your pet.)

3. The Car Selfie AKA The Seatbelt Selfie (You LITERALLY got in the car and thought, “I look so good today, I better let everyone know before I put this thing in drive and head to my shift at the Olive Garden.”)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Car Selfie AKA The Seatbelt Selfie (You LITERALLY got in the car and thought, “I look so good today, I better let everyone know before I put this thing in drive and head to my shift at the Olive Garden
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Car Selfie AKA The Seatbelt Selfie (You LITERALLY got in the car and thought, “I look so good today, I better let everyone know before I put this thing in drive and head to my shift at the Olive Garden

If you can combine the Seatbelt Selfie with the beloved Shirtless Selfie like this unattractive fella below, you..are…GOLD.
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - If you can combine the Seatbelt Selfie with the beloved Shirtless Selfie like this unattractive fella below, you..are…GOLD.

4. The Blurry Selfie (Why?)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Blurry Selfie (Why?)

5. The Just Woke Up Selfie
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Just Woke Up Selfie
Yeah right you just woke up.

6. Or even worse, the Pretending to Be Asleep Selfie. (We know you’re not asleep, asshole. You took the damn picture.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - Or even worse, the Pretending to Be Asleep Selfie. (We know you’re not asleep, asshole. You took the damn picture.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness

7. The Add a Kid Selfie (Extra points for a C-section scar.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Add a Kid Selfie (Extra points for a C-section scar.)

8. The Hospital Selfie (A rare gem. The more tubes you have hooked up to you, the better.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Hospital Selfie (A rare gem. The more tubes you have hooked up to you, the better.)

9. The “I’m On Drugs” Selfie (This looker below also qualifies as theLook At My New Haircut Selfie.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The “I’m On Drugs” Selfie (This looker below also qualifies as theLook At My New Haircut Selfie.)

10. The Duck Face Selfie (Hey girls. This doesn’t make you prettier. It makes you look stupid and desperate. If that’s what you’re going for, carry on.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Duck Face Selfie (Hey girls. This doesn’t make you prettier. It makes you look stupid and desperate. If that’s what you’re going for, carry on.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Duck Face Selfie (Hey girls. This doesn’t make you prettier. It makes you look stupid and desperate. If that’s what you’re going for, carry on.)

11. The Pregnant Belly Selfie (Send this to your family and friends, not the entire Internet.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Pregnant Belly Selfie (Send this to your family and friends, not the entire Internet.)
And yes, that’s a pregnant belly duck face selfie. It’s the unicorn of awful selfies.

12. The “I’m a Gigantic Whore” Selfie
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The “I’m a Gigantic Whore” Selfie
Nice phone case, by the way.

13. The “I Have Enough Money to Fly On an Airplane” Selfie (AND I own earbuds.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The “I Have Enough Money to Fly On an Airplane” Selfie (AND I own earbuds.)

14. The 3D Selfie. (It takes talent…along with class.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The 3D Selfie. (It takes talent…along with class.)

15. The Say Something That Has Nothing To Do With Anything Selfie(You had a great night? Oh.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The Say Something That Has Nothing To Do With Anything Selfie(You had a great night? Oh.)

16. The “I Live In Filth” Selfie (We all make messes, but if you’re going to post your living quarters on the World Wide Web, pick up your damn room.)
Scientists Link Selfies To Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness - The “I Live In Filth” Selfie (We all make messes, but if you’re going to post your living quarters on the World Wide Web, pick up your damn room.)
Source: Disclose.tv via Why Don’t You Try This

Mental health campaigner who created Project Semicolon dies at 31.


Mental health campaigner who created Project Semicolon dies at 31
Amy Bleuel, 31, from Wisconsin, founded Project Semicolon in 2013 with one goal in mind – to help people struggling with mental illness, suicide and addiction. 

The woman behind a powerful mental health campaign which aims to lower suicide rates around the world has died. 

 

Amy Bleuel, 31, from Wisconsin, founded Project Semicolon in 2013 with one goal in mind – to help people struggling with mental illness, suicide and addiction.

She encouraged people to draw or tattoo semicolons on themselves as a message of hope – a sign that their story isn’t finished – and to fight the stigma of mental health.

Jeff Strommen, the chairman of the Brown County Coalition for Suicide Prevention who had previously worked with Amy, told Fox 11: ‘Her loss is felt tremendously both by myself and our community here.’

The most recent post on her Facebook fan page was written on March 20 and reads: ‘Depression takes root when the picture of the past is more powerful than the picture of the future.’

Amy struggled with mental illness for more than 20 years and experienced many stigmas associated with it.

 

After overcoming some of her struggles, she began sharing stories and giving hope to others struggling with mental illness.

On the Project Semicolon website, Amy, who lost her own father to suicide in 2003, wrote: ‘Despite the wounds of a dark past I was able to rise from the ashes, proving that the best is yet to come.

https://www.instagram.com/p/4Zu00Dp_Eq/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7https://www.instagram.com/p/4fvrBaQHH5/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7https://www.instagram.com/p/4jymJ_kUv5/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7

‘When my life was filled with the pain of rejection, bullying, suicide, self-injury, addiction, abuse and even rape, I kept on fighting.

‘I didn’t have a lot of people in my corner, but the ones I did have kept me going. In my 20 years of personally struggling with mental health I experienced many stigmas associated with it.

‘Through the pain came inspiration and a deeper love for others. Please remember there is hope for a better tomorrow.’

Amy Bleuel death
She passed away last Thursday 

Since the news of her passing was released, there has been an outpouring of support on the Facebook page.

One person wrote: ‘Just being real, being who you are, not being ashamed, or afraid to talk about things that are difficult to talk about, she did that well.’

Source:http://metro.co.uk

Does All Mental Illness Derive from a Common Source? 


Article Image
Woman struggling with mental illness.

When we think of psychological disorders, we consider each a separate condition. We examine the symptoms, try to find where they stem from, and what specific medication or therapy might address it. Addiction on the other hand, comes with a whole different set of causes, it is thought, and has its own treatments and procedures. Though we’ve compartmentalized mental illness and addiction into various divisions and subdivisions, former FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler says that in fact, these seemingly disparate issues actually derive from a single origin.

In his new book Capture: A Theory of the Mind, he elaborates on this concept. By studying what causes people to smoke or overeat, Kessler says he discovered that the same mechanisms which drove these habits were also responsible for things like depression. The idea is that we are “captured,” or captivated by something in such a way that we can’t let it go. According to the former pediatrician and Yale dean, capture is really a brain-based phenomenon. Not only that, but it can also become an overarching perspective through which we may view any obsession, disorder, mental illness, addiction, and even suicide.

There are three parts to this theory: the “narrowing of attention, perceived lack of control and change in affect, or emotional state.” To boil it down, capture is basically any stimulus, be it an object, thought, activity, substance, or person, which overtakes our mind. Though depression may not at first glance seem to fit easily into this theory, Kessler says, “‘Depression’ is a label used to describe a group of symptoms. It is not a cause.”

Though medication can help, Dr. Kessler says it doesn’t delve down to the root of the problem.

In some sense, capture is a mental hijacking. But it isn’t always bad. In fact, the doctor credits the Protestant Reformation and the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous on capture. There are ways to take over the process and make it work for a higher goal, he says. The stimulus itself is neutral. You can be captured by something positive or negative. What is central is the lack of control one feels when faced with the overwhelming desire to unite with it. Even though we are constantly bombarded with stimuli, it’s this one particular thing that preoccupies out thoughts. While in reality we may be in the driver’s seat, capture gives us the illusion of losing control.

In the case of depression, it may originate with an early memory or trauma. The person becomes fixated on that memory. Whenever he or she encounters a trigger or cue, it turns the mind toward it, and the person begins to ruminate over the experience, which thereby causes depression. The emotion itself soon takes over, becoming the stimulus. In an interview on the Diane Rehm Show Kessler said, “That output becomes the input.”

In this way, the person gets caught in a vicious cycle and can’t break free.  Kessler believes that we should move away from the idea that people with mental illness as “sick” or “broken.” Instead, we need to look at it as a physical problem, and begin to examine what brain circuitry underlies such phenomena.

Historically, mental illness was seen as evil or a form of possession. Today, many sufferers feel broken or lost. But Dr. Kessler’s theory offers a healthier outlook and hope for those struggling.

Though in essence the book is about the “biological mechanism” behind mental illness and addiction, reviewers say anecdotes in the book are numerous, whereas hard science is scarce. Instead of brain imaging studies, case studies are what Kessler’s theory rests upon, at least for now. There is mention of Hebb’s rule, which states that brain neurons are prone to firing in patterns that have previously taken place. So the more we interact with the stimulus, the more this pattern becomes ingrained and the harder it is to break, what radio host Brian Lehrer called a “feedback loop.”

Though Kessler believes medication is worthwhile, it only dampens the desire for the stimulus, he says. “I think that the best way to treat being captured, whether it’s by a negative stimuli or an addictive substance or a fear, is to find something else that’s going to capture me that has even more importance to me.” This means supplanting the obsession with something positive and deeply fulfilling for the person.

This new outlook is interesting and could cause a wave of research in its aftermath. It may even revolutionize how we look at mental illness. Yet as it stands now, without hard science to back it up, such as an identified neural pathway, capture remains in the theoretical realm. Another issue is exactly why some people get captured, while others don’t. Beyond such questions, we must recognize that such radical speculation is necessary, particularly today when addiction and psychological disorders are on the rise.

source:http://bigthink.com

Scientists Link ‪Selfies‬ To Narcissism, ‪Addiction‬ & Mental Illness


The growing trend of taking smartphone selfies is linked to mental health conditions that focus on a person’s obsession with looks.

 According to psychiatrist Dr David Veal: “Two out of three of all the patients who come to see me with Body Dysmorphic Disorder since the rise of camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take and post selfies on social media sites.”
selfie

“Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to help a patient to recognize the reasons for his or her compulsive behavior and then to learn how to moderate it,” he told the Sunday Mirror.

s it possible that taking selfies causes mental illness, addiction, narcissism and suicide? Many psychologists say yes, and warn parents to pay close attention to what kids are doing online to avoid any future cases like what happened to Bowman.
A British male teenager tried to commit suicide after he failed to take the perfect selfie. Danny Bowman became so obsessed with capturing the perfect shot that he spent 10 hours a day taking up to 200 selfies. The 19-year-old lost nearly 30 pounds, dropped out of school and did not leave the house for six months in his quest to get the right picture. He would take 10 pictures immediately after waking up. Frustrated at his attempts to take the one image he wanted, Bowman eventually tried to take his own life by overdosing, but was saved by his mom.

“I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn’t, I wanted to die. I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life,” he told The Mirror.

The teenager is believed to be the UK’s first selfie addict and has had therapy to treat his technology addiction as well as OCD and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Psychologists argue mental illness is less about genetics and more about life experiences


Image: Psychologists argue mental illness is less about genetics and more about life experiences

It wasn’t long ago scientists believed that most mental illnesses, including autism, major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), were a result of genetics, but that is beginning to change.

Psychologists are now warning that too much money is being spent on researching the genetic and biological factors of mental illness, instead of understanding what they say is the real cause: “social crises such as unemployment or childhood abuse,” according to the Telegraph.

If this theory is in fact true, that would mean the medical establishment (Big Pharma, hospitals, and doctors) is drugging people with harmful psychotropics simply because they’re going through a tough time – a situation or condition that could probably be resolved through safer and more effective treatments, like meditation, exercise, a strong support network, and talk therapy.

Examining the triggers of mental illness

The Telegraph writes that “while there has been some success in uncovering genes which make people more susceptible to various disorders, specialists say that the true causes of depression and anxiety are from life events and environment, and research should be directed towards understanding the everyday triggers.”

Yet, the Medical Research Council (MRC), a governmental agency that coordinates and funds medical research in the UK, has blown hundreds of millions of dollars investigating the biological causes of mental illness. The same is true for research done in the U.S..

A few years ago, the National Institute of Health funded a study that sifted through thousands of genetic markers searching for genetic commonalities among patients with the most common mental illnesses: autism, major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and ADHD.

Researchers said they found genetic variations associated with the five most common disorders. But Peter Kinderman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool, says “genes are involved, but not very much.”

Kinderman told BBC Radio 4’s Today program:

“Of course every single action, every emotion I’ve ever had involves the brain, so to have a piece of scientific research telling us that the brain is involved in responding emotionally to events doesn’t really advance our understanding very much.

“And yet it detracts from the fact that when unemployment rates go up in a particular locality you get a measurable number of suicides.

“It detracts from the idea that trauma in childhood is a very very powerful predictor of serious problems like experiencing psychotic events in adult life, so of course the brain is involved and of course genes are involved, but not very much, and an excessive focus on those issues takes us away from these very important social factors.”

Why won’t the medical establishment fund mental illness studies outside of genetic factors?

Though this opinion is becoming increasingly more accepted, the medical establishment appears reluctant to divert funding away from studies on genetics and towards learning to understand the triggers of mental illness.

“It’s a tragedy actually. The UK Medical Research Council is one of the biggest funders of medical research in the UK but if you look at the things that they fund, by far the majority are things like brain scanners or gene sequencing machines, almost none of it is going towards understanding psychological mechanisms or social circumstances by which these problems develop,” said Professor Richard Bentall, of Liverpool University. “It is impossible to get funding to look at these kind of things.”

So why is the medical establishment dead set on only researching the genetic causes of mental illness?

Well, if it is accepted that the majority of mental illness is a result of stressful situations and events… that would imply the condition is much more recoverable as opposed to someone who is purportedly biologically wired with it.

In other words, drug companies couldn’t push pills as easily on individuals suffering temporarily, say from lost job or a divorce. But if a person is born with mental illness, that’s essentially justification for a life on psychotropic drugs.

The last line of the Telegraph’s report basically proves our theory: “So if by doing studies like this we can strongly implicate one area of biology it gives a new lead for drug companies to try to develop new therapies.”

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