The latest star to reveal that she’s suffered from depression and contemplated suicide is LeAnn Rimes. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Rimes confesses to cheating on her husband and admits that she had thoughts about taking her own life during the ordeal. According to the UK’s Daily Mail, the 30-year-old country singer checked into a health facility to deal with anxiety and stress after being criticized for her affair.
December 25, 2012 at 11:01 am (Antidepressants, Depression, Loose Screws Mental Health News, Mental Health/Illness, Military)
Tags: antidepressant, anxiety, Army, Depression, disabilities, Military, siblings, Suicide, teens
According to an article in USA Today, researchers have found that siblings who argue could have negative effects on their mental health.
Researchers report that conflicts about personal space and property, such as borrowing items without asking and hanging around when older siblings have friends over, are associated with increased anxiety and lower self-esteem in teens a year later. And fights over issues of fairness and equality, such as whose turn it is to do chores, are associated with later depression in teens.
I’d like to tell these siblings to get over it, but I don’t have any siblings of my own to relate my experience to.
PBS’s Frontline reports that most soldiers who commit suicide have never seen combat or even been deployed. According to the Defense Department, the Army has the sharpest rate of suicides of all the military branches. About 53 percent of military personnel who took their lives in 2011 had no history of deployment to active combat zones such as Iraq or Afghanistan. Even more troubling is that 85 percent of those who committed suicide may have been deployed but not involved in direct combat. Even though the military has invested $50 million to study mental health and suicide, a stigma of getting help still remains. It seems as though military personnel would rather take their own lives than seek help.
An antidepressant called GLYX-13, currently under study, appears to work within hours and last for up to a week. The lead researcher reports little to no side effects on the drug, which is injected intravenously. The drug is in phase 2, which means that its effectiveness and safety are still being tested. I have my doubts about an intravenous drug. If doctors are not currently testing patients’ serotonin levels, how would they be able to prescribe an intravenous antidepressant?
Asthma had been the largest contributor to YLDs (years lived with disabilities) for youths in that age range in the US and Canada in 1990, but the study published in The Lancet on Thursday led by researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle showed that in this group depression surpassed asthma to claim the number one spot in 2010.
Back in the 1990s, depression was not widely regarded or evaluated among teens. It was still “suck it up” and “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” My depression was viewed as laziness or “senioritis” among my teachers. I had no sympathy and very little leeway. Now, mental health is being taken more seriously for teens, and I think that’s a good thing.
See you if you can keep an elder person in mind during this holiday season. Senior depression is always on the rise during the holiday season due to problems with health, loneliness, or finances.
Anxiety. Depression. Suicidal thoughts. They are all rolled up in one.
I am anxious about a lot of things these days. From something as mundane as sitting here typing on the computer to driving to cold calling a prospective client (which may never pan out because I’m too anxious to call right now). My anxiety has been debilitating in the past where I didn’t want to leave my home, and I fear it’s getting to the point of debilitation again on some days.
My anxiety depresses me. It keeps me from doing things that no one would think twice about. But here I sit, a prisoner in my own body, freaking out about nearly everything. To escape this, combined with my severe lethargy, I crawl into bed and sleep, hoping that when I wake up, things will be better. But they usually are not.
Please don’t get me wrong. I have a life many people would envy: a loving husband, a supportive family, and a steady job. I am thankful for the good things in my life. But this attitude of thankfulness and gratefulness doesn’t take away the depression inside of me.
I do not want to go back to the hospital. If I fear anything worse than death, it may be going back to a psych hospital. I have passing suicidal thoughts about hanging myself, but I haven’t been able to act upon it. I can’t determine whether I am a harm to myself in which case I would need to go to the hospital. The point of the hospital (for me) is to get me away from things that would cause immediate harm to myself. But I can’t be locked up in a hospital forever. (I guess I could in a state institution but that would be a nightmare.)
Somehow, existing in this jumbled mix is me. Somewhere inside, I am bubbly, wonderfully wacky, and beautifully strange. The depression and anxiety fuzz all of that. I am only some of what I used to be. I go to sleep, hoping for some kind of reprieve from this dark cloud that hangs over me.
I’ve experienced anxiety for the past two days unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I’m afraid to do anything significant which includes leaving my home. I’m afraid to drive, travel, and interact with people other than my husband and impersonal Internet communication. I’ve cried every day and every night since Sunday. As part of anxiety issues, I’m battling depression as well. I’m simply paralyzed by fear and afraid to venture beyond my home. I’m somewhat paranoid about being watched as well. And no, I’m not on medication.
I don’t know what to do. Anyone have any advice to offer?
"I have learned to live each day as it comes, and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow. It is the dark menace of the future that makes cowards of us." — Dorothy Dix
Baylor University performed a study on how the churches help those who suffer from mental illness and found that they are not the most helpful places. PsychCentral notes:
Baylor University researchers built upon a 2008 study that found nearly a third of those who approached their local church in response to a personal or family member’s previously-diagnosed mental illness were told they really did not have mental illness.
In the new study, investigators discovered individuals experiencing depression and anxiety were dismissed the most often.
It seems that the local church has a long way to go in assisting those who suffer from mental illness. I am very thankful for CCEF that intends to “restore Christ to counseling and counseling to the church.” Here’s a blog post from Tim Lane, executive director of CCEF, in which he provides “four reasons to incorporate counseling into the local church.” And here’s another post by Mr. Lane on guidance for churches seeking outside help for counseling.
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength." — Corrie Ten Boom
February 18, 2009 at 8:11 am (Children, Diagnoses, Mental Health/Illness, Statistics, Suicide)
Tags: adolescents, anxiety, bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Children, Depression, health, health coverage, health insurance, kids, mental health, mental health parity, mental illness, parity, SCHIP, State Children's Health Insurance Program, Suicide, teenagers, teens
The new SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) law that President Obama signed significantly increases health coverage for children, which also includes mental health parity. According to Nancy Shute of U.S. News & World Report, health coverage is expanded to:
Then I stumble across this:
Normally, though, overworked pediatricians may not ask if a child has a mental-health problem—and may not know where to refer him or her if they do. About 20 percent of children and teenagers have a mental-health problem at any given time, or about 8 million to 13 million people. Two thirds of them are not getting the help they need.
That means out of roughly 40-65 million kids, we have 8-13 million who are “mentally ill.” And then about 5-8 million who aren’t getting proper mental help.
Color me cynical but I think 20 percent is a disproportionately high number to classify children as mentally ill. I think the percentage of adults being classified as mentally ill is exorbitant enough, let alone children who are going through stages in their lives where they’re simply developing, encountering mood swings, being disobedient, and perhaps, being — perish the thought! — normal children.
But let’s address something else here: I don’t think it’s impossible for children to suffer from mental illness but the incidence should be significantly lower.
According to Dr. Louis Kraus, the chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, suicide ranks as the sixth-leading cause of death among ages 5-14 — “although rare.” From ages 15-24, it jumps to number three.
The key word in that last paragraph is suicide is “rare.” The rate of mental illness in children should reflect that somehow. While I’m very happy SCHIP includes widespread mental health parity for low-income families, I’m also concerned children will be overdiagnosed with a “mental illness” when they may simply be dealing with the normal challenges of a difficult life.
Philip Dawdy at Furious Seasons has some great posts on the bipolar child paradigm that further explore the murky world of psychiatry pushing psychiatric illnesses and psychotropic drugs on kids. I’d also recommend reading Soulful Sepulcher as Stephany recounts her and her daughter’s experiences in and out of the mental health system.
(pic from save.org)
January 15, 2009 at 8:30 am (Medicine/Meds, News, Suicide)
Tags: Accolate, allergy, allergy medication, anxiety, asthma, AstraZeneca, clinical trials, Cornerstone Therapeutics, data, Depression, drug, drugs, FDA, inhaler, investigation, medication, medications.com, meds, Merck, montelukast, mood changes, night terrors, nightmares, paroniria, patient information, patient safety, Patient Safety Information, patients, PR, prescribing information, press release, safety information, safety review, Singulair, suicidal, suicidal actions, suicidal attempts, suicidal behavior, suicidal ideation, suicidal thoughts, Suicide, terrors, zafirlukast, zileuton, Zyflo
On Tuesday, the FDA announced that an investigation into Merck’s clinical trial data did not discover a link between Singulair (montelukast) and suicidal behavior. The investigation, which began 9 months ago, was prompted by a number of reported suicides, especially that of 15-year-old Cody Miller who took the drug and appeared to have no history of mood or behavioral problems. (It is worth noting here that Singulair “is the top-selling drug for people under 17 years old” and Merck’s biggest seller with annual sales of close to $4.5 billion.)
In attempt to assess Merck’s data better, the FDA also investigated AstraZeneca’s Accolate (zafirlukast) and Cornerstone Therapeutics’s Zyflo (zileuton). Although the FDA did imply that “the data were inadequate to draw a firm conclusion” and said that the clinical trials were not set up to observe any psychiatric behavior. Here are the data the FDA discovered during their review of these trials:
Singulair: 41 placebo-controlled trials that included 9,929 patients
- Reports of suicidal thoughts: 1 (treated with Singulair)
- Attempted suicides: None reported
- Completed suicides: None reported
Accolate: 45 placebo-controlled trials that included 7,540 patients
- Reports of suicidal thoughts: 1 (placebo group)
- Attempted suicides: 1 (placebo group)
- Completed suicides: None reported
Zyflo: 11 placebo-controlled trials (number of patients unknown)
- Reports of suicidal thoughts: None reported
- Attempted suicides: None reported
- Completed suicides: None reported
Forgive me for being cynical but the data sounds fishy. I can’t pinpoint why but it does. The suicide numbers and patient involvement data seem to deviate some from the numbers listed in Merck’s PR issued last March. (I’m seeing 11,000+ patients vs. 9,929 patients.) Regardless of the clinical trial data, it appears that the FDA as of yet have not reviewed post-marketing data.
Scott Korn, a senior safety surveillance executive for Merck said in an article for Reuters:
In the same article, Sanford Berstein analyst Tim Anderson had this to say about the possibility of the FDA finding a link:
The Washington Post has Dr. David Weldon, director of the Allergy and Pulmonary Lab Services at Scott & White in College Station, Texas, on record saying that he had not “seen any increase in psychiatric problems with the drug but that some patients had complained of nightmares after starting on Singulair.” (Note: It appears that the closest conflict of interest Weldon would have here is that he served as a consultant and is honoraria for AstraZeneca.)
Dr. Rauno Joks, head of the SUNY Downstate division of allergy and immunology, made an interesting point in the Washington Post article:
“The physician really needs to review whether there are symptoms that have developed since patients started taking the medication, if there’s an underlying depression that was there before medication started.
Also, seasonal allergies in and of themselves can cause fatigue and lethargy, which makes it harder to assess, because those are some of the symptoms you have with depression.”
The FDA says they’ve completed analyses of submitted clinical trial data but their “safety review will continue” for several more months before they come to a concrete conclusion. For customer testimonials, check out medications.com that has over 2,300 people reporting side effects and askapatient.com that has an average 2.3 rating from 524 reviewers. The most commonly reported mood-related side effect on both of the sites is irritability.
January 13, 2009 at 2:41 pm (Bipolar Disorder, Christian, Depression, Fear, Medicine/Meds, Mental Health/Illness, Personal, Suicide)
Tags: Antidepressants, anxiety, Bible, biblical, Biblical counseling, bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Blame It on the Brain, CCEF, Christ, Christ-centered, Christian, Christian counseling, Christian Counseling Education Foundation, Competent to Counsel, counseling, counseling method, Depression, diagnosis, disorders, drug, Ed Welch, Elijah, faith, fatigue, Fear, Freud, Freudian, God, Institute for Nouthetic Studies, integrational counseling, irritability, Jay Adams, Jesus Christ, Jung, Jungian, medication, meds, mental illness, mixed-mood, mixed-mood episodes, nouthetic counseling, Nouthetic counselors, panic attacks, paroxetine, Paxil, problems, psych meds, psychiatric medication, psychiatry, psychology, psychotropics, PTSD, Scriptural, Scriptural principles, scripture, Seroxat, sin, Suicide
Last night, I spent some time on the phone with my husband’s friend’s sister (aka my former pastor’s sister). We’ll call her Natalie.
Natalie was very sweet and kind, really encouraging and strengthening me by sharing her testimony of faith in God. She suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, which has led her to take Paxil (on and off) for the past 7 years. She says the drug has helped her tremendously and who am I to knock the drug (knowing what I know about Paxil/Seroxat) when she has seen the wonders that it has worked in her life?
I briefly explained my story of depression, history of suicide, and diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Although she couldn’t fully relate, she was very sympathetic and understanding. In fact, our conversation was so fruitful, I ended up taking notes!
We briefly touched on the issue of Nouthetic counseling (NC). She has undergone the course and simply needs to be certified. The counselor I currently see is associated with the Christian Counseling Education Foundation (CCEF), which has roots in NC and was founded by the man—Jay Adams—who developed the method. However, CCEF is now known for what is called biblical counseling. The organization has since moved away from pure Nouthetic methods and become more a bit more varied, taking bits and pieces of psychology (and perhaps psychiatry) that line up with the Bible. Adams, disagreeing with the organization’s approach, founded the Institute for Nouthetic Studies and uses the Bible as the sole counseling textbook. According to the wiki entry on Nouthetic counseling, Adams developed the word Nouthetic based on the “New Testament Greek word noutheteō (νουθετέω), which can be variously translated as ‘admonish,’ ‘warn,’ ‘correct,’ ‘exhort,’ or ‘instruct.'”
NC was developed back in the ’70s as a response to the popularity of psychology/psychiatry. Many Christians reject some of the teachings of such popular psychologists as Freud, Jung, Adler, Maslow, etc. Adams’ highly successful book, Competent to Counsel, criticizes the psychology industry and counters its teaching with a Nouthetic approach.
But NC has its Christian critics.
August 4, 2008 at 7:37 am (Bipolar Disorder, Children, Depression, Loose Screws Mental Health News, Medicine/Meds, Mental Health/Illness, Military, PPD, PTSD, Statistics, Suicide)
Tags: abuse, Afghanistan, Afghanistan War, anxiety, bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, calls, Children, Depakote, Depression, drug, emotional abuse, FDA, gel capsule, hanging, Ira Katz, Iraq, Iraq War, manic episodes, med, medication, meds, Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act bill, mental disorder, mental health, mental illness, national suicide prevention lifeline, Noven Pharmaceuticals, physical abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, psych drugs, psych meds, psychologists, psychotropic, PTSD, Stavzor, suicidal, Suicide, suicide hotline, suicide lifeline, toddlers, VA, valproic acid, Veterans Administration, Vietnam, Vietnam War
- Postpartum Progress reports that the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act bill did not pass. Spreading lies like this did not help.
- The FDA recently approved Stavzor, a valproic acid delayed release capsule, for the treatment of bipolar disorder, seizures, and migraine headaches. Wow. That’s covering the gamut. The drug looks like it’ll be competing directly with the Depakote brand.
The mastermind behind Stavzor is Noven Pharmaceuticals (in conjunction with Banner Pharmacaps Inc.). The new “small, easy-to-swallow soft gel capsule” is available in three strengths: 125, 250, and 500 mgs. The pills are are “up to 40% smaller than han Depakote® and Depakote ER® tablets at the 500 mg dosage strength.” From Noven’s PR:
Stavzor is approved for the treatment of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, as monotherapy and adjunctive therapy in the treatment of patients with complex partial seizures that occur either in isolation or in association with other types of seizures, and for prophylaxis of migraine headaches.
The drug will hit the market in mid to late August.
- A recent AP article notes that more than 22,000 veterans contacted the veterans portion of The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline hotline since its inception last July. The government reports that the hotline support has helped to prevent more than 1200 people from committing suicide. The Veterans Administration (VA) estimates that 6500 veterans commit suicide annually. In light of recent news regarding the increase in Marine suicides, the effectiveness of the suicide hotline is offers significant promise.
The hotline receives an average 250 calls each day from veterans that have fought in Iraq, Vietnam, and Afghanistan.
The issue of soldiers with mental illness has recently come to light with studies showing that 1 in 5 soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have shown symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The issue of the high suicides rate has been a high priority of the VA since mental health director Ira Katz tried to hide the significant number of suicides committed by veterans.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day by calling 800-273-TALK (8255); veterans should press “1” after being connected.
- Psychologists are now saying that hitting and yelling at children is causing an increase in mental illness, which has manifested in ages as young as 3 years old. News.com.au reports that 1 in 7 children are affected by a mental disorder.
“We have seen a 60 per cent increase in demand for our child anxiety classes in the past six months,” said [Dr. Kimberley O’Brien, of the Quirky Kids Clinic at Woollahra in Sydney].
It sounds more like the article is speaking of children who are exposed to constant physical and emotional abuse. If that’s the case, shouldn’t there rather be an increase in parenting properly classes?
- Finally, a bit of sad news: police in Connecticut report than 10-year-old killed herself apparently by hanging. Police do not believe that foul play was involved. I can’t imagine being 10 and feeling suicidal. It was tough enough at 14.
Heather Locklear, most famous for her roles in T.J. Hooker and Dynasty, checked into an Arizona facility for treatment of anxiety and depression on June 19. As of July 2, rumors reported that she was still checked into the facility. Her publicist issued a statement on June 24:
“Heather has been dealing with anxiety and depression. She requested an in-depth evaluation of her medication and entered into a medical facility for proper diagnosis and treatment,” says Locklear’s rep, Cece Yorke. “This is a confidential medical matter and no further statement will be released.”
It seems that her bout of depression began after her split from rocker Richie Sambora to whom she was married for about 10 years. It appears that her current partner, actor Jack Wagner, has been a strong source of support and encouragement for her.
However, in other upsetting news, 21-year-old model Ruslana Korshunova jumped from the window of her Manhattan apartment in what appears to be a suicide. No one is quite sure what caused it but the based on the poetry that she posted on a website, the New York Daily News has proposed the idea that it was over “a lost love.”
Finally, Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz revealed to Men’s Health magazine that he suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID). John Grohol of PsychCentral quoted an excerpt from the interview:
What makes my case even worse is that every night I go out on stage and have this incredible emotional connection between me, the band, and the audience. Then, just like that, it’s over. I go backstage, back to the bus, back to my hotel room, and sit there all by myself. That deep connection is yanked away in an instant. It’s like breaking up with your girlfriend over and over again, every night.
April 20, 2008 at 7:23 pm (Celebrities, Depression, Mental Health/Illness, Suicide)
Tags: alcoholism, anorexia, anxiety, bipolar, bulimia, Celebrities, celebrity crust, celebs, Depression, drug use, eating disorders, half of us, mtv, mtvu, Pete Wentz, stress, substance abuse, Suicide, Suicide attempts, Wentz
Wentz was joined stars such as Mary J. Blige and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan as a spokesperson for the Jed Foundation’s Half Of Us campaign which is aimed at cutting student suicide rates.
The site also deals with issues such as eating disorders, stress, substance abuse, cutting, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. As part of Generation Y (or Z or XYZ), I grew up loving mtv as a teen. Now I can’t stand it. (Mainly because it’s reality-TV show channel for than music television.) But I have to hand it to the mtv networks this time. They got it right. Use celebrities if you have to so that college students will be less hesitant to seek the help they need.
March 27, 2008 at 12:13 pm (Medicine/Meds, Suicide)
Tags: allergy medication, anxiety, Depression, drugs, FDA, investigation, medication, meds, montelukast, mood changes, patient information, patient safety, safety information, Singulair, suicidal, suicidal actions, suicidal behavior, suicidal thoughts, Suicide
In a particularly odd link, the FDA is looking into Singulair, the asthma and allergy drug and its correlation with suicidal behavior. I’ve taken Singulair in the past and not once did it ever occur to me to think about an allergy medication being linked to suicidal behavior. The FDA also says that it could cause mood and behavior changes. The situation that alerted the FDA to this possibility is the story of 15-year-old Cody Miller who killed himself 17 days after switching from allergy medication Allegra to Singulair. Miller’s mother, Kate, approached his medication switch with extreme caution and informed herself of the possible side effects:
She checked the Merck website and the information sheet she got from the pharmacist on Singulair and found no red flags, so they were stumped when Cody started acting out of character.
I have to hand it to Merck: Once the Millers reported Cody’s death, they immediately updated Singulair’s warnings to include suicidal thoughts and actions. However, Cody died on August 4, 2007. Merck updated their information two months later. As of February 29, 2008, the FDA still hadn’t taken any action. Despite the updated warnings, however, doctors and pharmacists were unaware of the new information.
The Singulair website carries the updated side effects, but you have to search it out in the patient information PDF on the fourth of five pages.
If you check with the FDA, you’ll find nothing. That’s because they admit they haven’t updated their website on Singulair since 2001.
According to the FDA’s MedWatch safety information, they have only begun their investigation today. They say it will take 9 months for them to “complete their investigation.” We may not hear of the FDA’s conclusions until early 2009. If this is a single, isolated incident, the FDA may just say the results are inconclusive and allow Merck rip the warning off their patient safety information. It is also important to note, however, that Singulair has also been linked to depression and anxiety.
March 15, 2008 at 8:02 am (Depression, Medicine/Meds, PPD, Pregnancy)
Tags: and Support for Postpartum Depression Act, anxiety, anxiety disorder, baby blues, big pharma, bill, birth, Congress, Depression, disorder, drugs, education, families, grants, legislation, medication, Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act, mental disorder, mental health, mental illness, Mom's Opportunity to Access Health, moms, mood disorder, mothers, MOTHERS Act, new moms, NIH, NIMH, pharmaceuticals, postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, PPD, PPP, Pregnancy, pregnant, psych drugs, psychotropic, research, symptoms, therapy, treatment, women
I stumbled upon Yankee Cowgirl’s blog that mentioned Congress is working on the MOTHERS (Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression) Act which would “strongly encourage pregnant women into mental health programs – that means drugs – to combat even mild depression during or after giving birth.”
The Mothers Act is pending legislation that will indoctrinate hundreds of thousands of mothers into taking dangerous psych drugs.
He goes on to slam Big Pharma about how they control Congress and how mothers don’t need psych drugs for a natural birth process.
The Mothers Act (S. 1375: Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression Act) has the net affect of reclassifying the natural process of pregnancy and birth as a mental disorder that requires the use of unproven and extremely dangerous psychotropic medications (which can also easily harm the child).
These are some serious accusations. I got pretty riled up myself and decided to see what Congress said in the bill.
March 12, 2008 at 10:49 pm (Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Depression, Loose Screws Mental Health News, Medicine/Meds, Mental Health/Illness, Schizophrenia, Statistics, Suicide)
Tags: akathisia, Antipsychotics, anxiety, Clozaril, Depression, developing countries, disorders, emo, happiness, medication, meds, mental health, New York Times, NYT, psych, psych drugs, psych meds, psychiatric, psychiatric drugs, psychotropic medications, schizophrenic, school shootings, suicidal behavior, Suicide, The Elite Agenda
Depression and anxiety have long been seen as Western afflictions, diseases of the affluent. But new studies find that they are just as common in poor countries, with rates up to 20 percent in a given year.
In India, as in much of the developing world, depression and anxiety are rarely diagnosed or treated. With a population of more than one billion, India has fewer than 4,000 psychiatrists, one-tenth the United States total. Because most psychiatrists are clustered in a few urban areas, the problem is much worse elsewhere.
Looks like depression is really more than just a whiny rich American kid who chooses to be upset because he’s got nothing better to do. That’s “emo” for those who aren’t hip-to-the-jive. 😉
On The Elite Agenda, Dr. Fred Baughman mentions Swedish writer Janne Larson who asserts that “over 80 percent of persons killing themselves were treated with psychiatric drugs.” Thank God for FOIA that provides the docs to back this up:
According to data received via a Freedom of Information Act request, more than 80 percent of the 367 suicides had been receiving psychiatric medications. More than half of these were receiving antidepressants, while more than 60 percent were receiving either antidepressants or antipsychotics. There is no mention of this either in the NBHW paper or in major Swedish media reports about the health care suicides.
I guess Sweden isn’t the only country in the world that wants to sweep unfavorable mental health coverage under the rug. By the way, Sweden also is considered to be the seventh happiest country in the world.
While the FDA has recognized that antidepressants can cause an increase in suicidal behavior (as indicated by the “black box warning”), antipsychotics seem to have fallen under the radar. In fact in 2002, Clozaril was approved to combat suicidal behavior in schizophrenic patients. Since then, research has shown that antipsychotics can increase suicidal behavior in schizophrenic patients twenty-fold.
Akathisia – a serious side effect that has occurred for nearly all psych drugs in clinical trials – has been found to be linked to suicidal behavior with not only antidepressants but also in conjunction with antipsychotics.
Finally, Baughman closes with this:
It is important to note that nearly every school shooting that has happened in the United States over the last decade has been conducted by young males who were taking antidepressant drugs. The drugs not only cause suicidal behavior, they also seem to promote extreme violence towards other individuals. In most school shooting cases, the young men committing the violence also committed suicide after killing classmates and teachers. These are classic signs of antidepressant use.
I don’t know if that’s wholly true but it’s a trend I’ve seen with Cho, Kazmierczak, and Eric Harris of Columbine. Since 1996, there have been 55 major school shootings all around the world; 43 of them occurred in the U.S. Makes you wonder how many of these gunmen were on a psychotropic drug – prescribed or not – of some kind.
(Image from Style Hair Magazine)
March 6, 2008 at 1:00 pm (Depression, Loose Screws Mental Health News, Mental Health/Illness, Military, PTSD)
Tags: anxiety, chores, Depression, genes, happiness, housework, mental health, mental illness, PTSD, sex, soldiers, troops
The AP has reported that a new Army mental health study says soldiers in Afghanistan have been suffering from an increase in depression in correlation with an increase in violence. It’s interesting that the focus is turning to Afghanistan now that violence has decreased in Iraq.
“The annual battlefield study found once again that soldiers on their third and fourth tours of duty had sharply greater rates of mental health problems than those on their first or second deployments, according to several officials familiar with the report.”
It seems that the more soldiers are exposed to combat, the higher the risk of depression and other mental health illnesses. A 2004 study indicates that about one in 10 soldiers have a serious mental health illlness that requires treatment. The AP article mainly focuses on depression but also mentions the rates of anxiety and PTSD are similar to the rates found in soldiers in Iraq last year. Thankfully, the number of troops who sought treatment has decreased to 29 percent from 34 percent in 2006.
On a happy note (pun intended), a study published in Psychological Science has discovered that happiness can be genetic. Researchers studied about 1,000 identical and fraternal twins and found that their genes control about half of the traits that make people happy. The other half is control by circumstances.
“People who are sociable, active, stable, hardworking and conscientious tend to be happier, the researchers reported in the journal Psychological Science.
People with positive inherited personality traits may, in effect, also have a reserve of happiness to draw on in stressful times, [Tim Bates, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh who led the study] said.
“An important implication is that personality traits of being outgoing, calm and reliable provide a resource, we called it ‘affective reserve,’ that drives future happiness” Bates said.”
Basically, if you have none of those traits, you’ll just have to suffer through unhappiness like the rest of us. [sarcasm]
Finally, for those of you married men out there, here’s a tip to be a happier husband: Do more around the house, get more sex. ‘Nuff said.
(Image from Jupiter Images)
February 26, 2008 at 11:05 am (Antidepressants, Anxiety/Stress, Depression, Medicine/Meds, Statistics)
Tags: antidepressant, Antidepressants, anxiety, clinical depression, Depression, major depressive disorder, MDD, placebo
Despite all the hype surrounding antidepressants and their effectiveness, the AP has reported on a new study from the University of Hull in Britain that says antidepressants only help severely depressed people and “work no better than placebos in many patients.”
The drugs used in the study: Prozac (fluoxetine), Effexor (venlafaxine), Paxil/Seroxat (paroxetine), and Serzone (nefazodone).
Irving Kirsch, who headed the study, said: “Although patients get better when they take antidepressants, they also get better when they take a placebo, and the difference in improvement is not very great. This means that depressed people can improve without chemical treatments.” (AP)
This is a pretty controversial finding considering the widespread use of antidepressants among those who have been diagnosed with clinical depression and other forms of mental illness, i.e. anxiety.
According the NIH, depression (the clinical term is major depressive disorder) affects an estimated 14.8 million American adults. CNN cites a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says 2.4 billion drugs were prescribed in 2005; of those, 118 million were antidepressants. I can only imagine as “awareness” of depression increases, the number of prescribed antid’s has increased as well.
Adult use of antidepressants almost tripled between the periods 1988-1994 and 1999-2000.
Between 1995 and 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the use of these drugs rose 48 percent, the CDC reported.
Many psychiatrists see this statistic as good news — a sign that finally Americans feel comfortable asking for help with psychiatric problems. (CNN)
CNN quoted Dr. Kelly Posner, an assistant professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, who said that “25 percent of adults will have a major depressive episode sometime in their life, as will 8 percent of adolescents.” If 25 percent of adults have a “major depressive episode,” does that mean that those 25 percent will require antidepressants as well? I’m concerned about the relatively high number for adolescents. I’m not a fan of throwing pills at growing children.
In light of the U of Hull study, the first course of treatment regarding depression should be non-medicated therapy of some kind. Whether it be “talk” therapy or cognitive behavior therapy, tackling depression really should first be treated with psychologic therapy. Posner says “25 percent of adults will have a major depressive episode.” Major depressive episode does not equal clinical depression or major depressive disorder, for that matter. A major depressive episode could mean anything: bereavement, loss of employment, or a difficult situation without an immediate resolution. I am strongly against prescribing antidepressants to help people cope with “normal” life events. People feel as though that their grief is too much to bear so they go to the doctor in the hopes that an antidepressant will help “dull” their emotions. I can only hope that a doctor will be able to differentiate between true clinical depression and a difficult situation that could be helped without the use of psychiatric medication.
P.S. I looked up Dr. Posner’s conflicts of interest and they were “TBD.” I would feel better had it listed “no conflicts of interest to disclose.”
April 30, 2007 at 2:17 pm (Antidepressants, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Medicine/Meds, Mental Health/Illness, Pharma)
Tags: Anafranil, Antidepressants, anxiety, April 30, big pharma, bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, bupropion, chronic pain, clinical studies, clomipramine, Depression, Effexor, fatigue, FDA, FDA approval, Fluoxetine, high blood pressure, hot flashes, IBS, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, Journal of Women's Health, magazine, magic pill, medications, meds, Melissa McNeil, menopause, migraines, off-label, off-label prescriptions, patient, patient education, patient responsibility, Pharma, pharmaceutical companies, pharmaceutical industry, Pink, pink magazine, PMS, premenstrual syndrome, Progressive Medical Centers of America, Progressive Medical Group, Prozac, psych meds, quetiapine, quit smoking, Sarafem, Scott Haltzman, Seroquel, smoking, somnolence, symptoms, tricyclic antidepressants, venlafaxine, Vikor Bouquette, weight loss, Wellbutrin, women, Zyban
Pink, a magazine for business women, has an article in its April/May 2007 issue titled, “The Magic Pill.” (The only way to read this article is to get a hard-copy of the mag.) No, this isn’t about birth control. The subhead: “Antidepressants are now used for everything from migraines to menopause. But are women getting an overdose?”
Good question. The article, well-written by Mary Anne Dunkin, does a nice job of trying to present both sides of the coin. One subject, Pam Gilchrist, takes tricyclic antidepressants to relieve her fibromyalgia symptoms. “One of the [antidepressants] that allows her to keep going” is Effexor (venlafaxine). God forbid the woman should ever have to come off of that one. (It works well when you’re on it, but withdrawal is sheer hell.)
The other subject mentioned in the article, Billie Wickstrom, suffers from bipolar disorder, but had a therapist who diagnosed her with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The psychiatrist she was referred to promptly put her on Anafranil (clomipramine). We all know what antidepressants tend to do for those with bipolar disorder. Wickstrom blanked out at an interview that she says she normally would have aced. In another incident, she veered off-course after leaving town and spent the night on the side of the road with her daughter. “Search parties in three states” were out looking for them.
“Three years and three hospitalizations later, Wickstrom is finally free of clomipramine and has a job she loves as PR director for a $300 million family of companies. She says she’s happy, she’s focused and she feels great – consistently.”
Dunkin’s article uncovers a large, problematic use – by my standards, anyway – of off-label usage by doctors.
“Gilchrist… is one of the estimated one in 10 American women taking some type of antidepressant medication. And a considerable percentage of these prescriptions, particularly those for tricyclic antidepressants, are not used to treat depression at all.
A growing number of doctors today prescribe antidepressants for a wide range of problems, including anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia, migraines, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, menopausal hot flashes and smoking cessation.”
I’m sure the list goes on, but magazines have but oh so much space.
Dr. Melissa McNeil at the University of Pittsburgh points out three things:
- Since depression is a prevalent (see common) condition, doctors are better detecting it.
- Since antidepressants have proven their safety and efficacy, primary care physicians have no reservations prescribing them.
- Clinical studies are finding that antidepressants can aid a number of medical issues apart from depression.
My take on McNeil’s points (I’ll try to keep them brief):
- Depression is way too common to be abnormal. If a woman has a rough patch in life for 2 weeks or more, she’s got depression. As for doctors being better at detecting depression? Studies consistently show that doctors are great at overlooking depression in men.
- Antidepressants haven’t proven jack squat. Placebos have proven more safety and efficacy than antidepressants. PCPs have no reservations prescribing them because they only know about the positive facts that pharma reps tell them instead of researching the potential side effects.
- Clinical studies aren’t finding all those things out. Seroquel has FDA-approval to treat psychiatric symptoms (psychosis, for one). As far as I know, Seroquel is not FDA-approved to treat insomnia or crappy sleeping patterns. There are no specific clinical studies to see if Seroquel can treat insomnia. Seroquel is prescribed to treat insomnia/restless sleep because doctors have found that a major side effect of the drug is somnolence. If this is the case, Effexor should be prescribed for weight loss. It’d be the new Fen-Phen.
Dunkin cites two widely used antidepressants for nonpsychiatric uses: Wellbutrin (bupropion) and Prozac (fluoxetine). Zyban, used for smoking cessation is, well, bupropion. Sarafem, used to treat PMS symptoms is – you guessed it – fluoxetine.
Dr. Viktor Bouquette of Progressive Medical Group thankfully takes a more cautious approach:
“The widespread use – mostly misuse – by physicians of antidepressants to treat women for far-ranging symptoms from insomnia, chronic fatigue and irritability to PMS and menopause is merely another unfortunate example of the pharmaceutical industry’s tremendous influence on the practice of modern medicine. Take enough antidepressants and you may likely still have the symptoms, but you won’t care.”
Kudos to Dunkin for landing that quote. Since Bouquette is part of an alternative medicine group, he’s got a good motive for slamming pharma companies.
McNeil goes on to sound anti-d happy in the article. Not that it matters, but she is also a section editor for the Journal of Women’s Health, which has several corporate associates representing pharmaceutical companies. (She is also the only source in the article who sings anti-d’s praises.) Dunkin tracked down Dr. Scott Haltzman, a clinical professor at the Brown University Department of Psychiatry, who advocated patient responsibility.
“Just because antidepressants work for depression does not mean they should always be used. People need to learn skills to manage their depressive symptoms instead of depending on medication. When you take medicine for every complaint, you lose the opportunity to learn how to regulate your mood on your own.”
Oh, for more doctors like Haltzman and Bouquette.
March 7, 2007 at 11:36 am (Depression, Personal)
Tags: anxiety, anxious, Bipolar Disorder, celexa, citalopram, Depression, Effexor, escitalopram, GAD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Lexapro, major depressive disorder, MDD, medication, meds, outpatient treatment, prescription, psych hospital, psych meds, quiet, sertraline, shy, SNRI, SSRI, suicidal, Suicide, venlafaxine, zoloft
By the end of March, we decided to get engaged and work out our differences. (I’d move to Kentucky and he’d be open to not having biological kids.) In early July, I quit Lexapro cold turkey. (This, folks, is a NO-NO.) Two weeks later, I had a relapse and attempted to commit suicide. Bob freaked out and called the cops and I nearly lost my job at a prestigious magazine. It wasn’t Bob’s fault; it was mine for quitting a med cold turkey and it was Dr. X’s for not warning me about the potential for suicide attempts on the drug. Perhaps she didn’t know. After all, she kept doling out Lexapro samples to me via the drug rep. When I told her in August that Lexapro wasn’t working, she became skeptical, assumed that I was still being noncompliant and wrote out a prescription for Zoloft. By that point, I was tired of meds. I’d gained 40-50 lbs between Paxil and Lexapro (after being skinny all my life) and still had a difficult time functioning normally. I never filled my prescription.
I moved to Kentucky in September and started a new job in October. After things became a little hectic and overwhelming at work in December, I became suicidal once again. I never saw Bob during the day (I worked second shift into third shift sometimes) so he was able to be depressed during the night and hide it apart from me since I rarely saw him. Bob, fearful of a failing marriage and I’d make good on my promise to kill myself, made the decision for us to move back to his hometown in Pennsylvania in April 2006.
As of January 2006, I knew I needed to be hospitalized and talked about it frequently. However, I felt like I couldn’t: "My job needs me," I said. "We’re understaffed. My job needs me." Even the anxiety of handing in my resignation at a job I hadn’t been employed at for a year gripped me.
We began our job search in the metro Philly area in April and both landed jobs in May. He in the suburbs; I in Philadelphia. My suicidal attempts and thoughts remained with me, but began to increase in August. My sick days became frequent. After a honeymoon at the end of August, I came back in September to a hostile co-worker and a micromanaging, picky boss. Those factors – in addition to whatever I was already dealing with – contributed to taking a disability leave from my job and admitting myself to a psych hospital. I’d been unwilling to do it because I was so busy, but if not, my husband would have been forced to do it for me.
I stayed in the hospital for 7-8 days. The doctor who initially admitted me asked me what meds I’d been on. I said Lexapro and Paxil. I mentioned I didn’t like them. He suggested that I try Celexa in the meantime and that it wasn’t the same as those two. Before I began this blog, I had no idea that Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa (citalopram) are virtually the same thing. I passed on Celexa at med times, knowing that my case doctor would be switching me to something different. My case doctor, Dr. S, recommended Effexor XR after I told him that I’d had trouble with Lexapro and Paxil. He said, "Well, it’s an SNRI and functions differently than an SSRI. Let’s try you on that. We’ll start you off at 37.5 mg and get you up to 150 mg by the time you leave."
On the first day of Effexor, I developed severe somnolence that lasted an hour. Later that day and the next three days, I developed severe dry mouth. I’d never known what dry mouth was until then. So I chugged several Snapple Iced Teas a day since water wasn’t available through their vending machines. (Weird, I know.) When I began at my intensive outpatient treatment afterward, a nurse told me that drinking too much sugar can cause the liver to overproduce sugar – if I remember correctly – which can lead to diabetes. *sigh*
Because of a (somewhat) sexual assault incident at the hospital, my release was hastened and I left at 75 mg of Effexor. My psychiatrist at the outpatient clinic titrated me up to 150 mg, which according to him, "is standard. Some patients do better at 300 mg." (!) By the time my outpatient treatment was over, I was steady at 150 mg of Effexor.
In the meantime, my husband was overtaken by all the events that had been occuring since August. (You’d be freaked out too if you woke up to see your spouse trying to hang him/herself.)
In November, he finally admitted to me that he struggle with depression. He began crying all the time over nearly everything. As a computer programmer for seven years, he felt inadequate and insecure at his new job. He cried over my depression. He cried about worsening my depression with his depression. He became anxious over everything. He couldn’t sleep in the event that he’d wake up to see another suicide attempt. He became wracked with anxiety. After much provoking and nagging, he finally agreed to seek treatment in the evening at the outpatient clinic I’d been to. He found it somewhat helpful but admitted that it was difficult to act on what he’d learned.
November threw another curveball at us when my outpatient psychiatrist diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. That finally explained my hostile, irritable, and angry episodes (which normally occurred at night) in addition to my depression. Now, Bob became anxious over the next manic episode that might occur.
Just as he had involved my mother of my situation, I sat down with his parents and spoke with them about Bob’s. His parents seemed taken aback. The quiet, shy kid had all these problems that they’d never known about? His parents and I thought that Bob was freaking out over me and the recent events. Little did we all know that it was simply a trigger. Since I was around Bob all the time now, he wasn’t able to hide it from me any longer.
Despite weekly counseling that we began in August, he still suffers from extreme anxiety. He still suffers from depression with passing suicidal thoughts. He still cries and gets angry over, well, insignificant things. But he’s been brave to admit that he struggles with depression. He’s taken a leap of faith to talk to his parents, his brother, and me about what he deals with and some of what he’s been thinking. Bob has a long way to go, but he’s finally taken the steps forward to recovery.
March 6, 2007 at 4:08 am (Depression, Personal)
Tags: anxiety, black dog, college, Depression, escitalopram, insecure, Lexapro, medication, meds, men, paroxetine, Paxil, PCP, pediatric, primary care doctor, psych hospital, psych meds, psychologist, quiet, shy, suicidal, Suicide
In February 2004, I tried to kill myself. I don’t remember how now. But he pleaded with me to go see a doctor and get some help. Since I was 21, I no longer qualified under my mother’s health insurance so I tried to avoid docs as much as I could. My pediatric (PCP) doctor continued to treat me despite my age. Dr. X diagnosed me with depression and said, "Since you don’t have medical insurance, I’ll give you some samples of Paxil that a drug rep gave me."
Welcome to the beginning of my first experience with psych drugs.
(Just an aside: Before this, I had never taken medication for depression. My parents wouldn’t let me growing up. In the psych hospital, I said no even though the psychiatrist there gave me a tough time about it.)
I remained on Paxil through July. I wasn’t accustomed to taking medication each day so I’d take it for a day or two on and off. But no more than that. If I didn’t take it for three days, I knew it was time to get back on it. I’d suffer from dizziness and "brain shivers." It was also the first time that I developed eyelid twitching.
I went back to Dr. X and told her that Paxil wasn’t working. She told me that she knew I wasn’t consistent in taking my meds. But she still switched me to another med.
Enter Lexapro in September.
A crucial year in college. I was attempting to graduate that semester, juggle responsibilities as a reporter and copy editor for the college paper, manage a long-distance relationship, and complete a 50+ page honors paper. After accidentally reporting incorrect data on an investigative piece that I thought I’d thoroughly researched, university directors came down HARD on me. The managing editor made it a bigger deal that it really was (according to my teacher and newspaper advisor), freaking me out and sending me into a tailspin. I adhered to my Lexapro regimen much more carefully, but my depression worsened. By the end of October, I’d quit my job at the paper and found myself unable to get out of bed except for late afternoon and night classes. In November, I had to cut back from 16-18 credits down to 12 – just enough to keep me a full-time student. Of course, I didn’t graduate that semester.
I’d went to a psychologist (recommended by my PCP) who gave me "tough love" advice for $75 per half-hour. The "tough love" approach wasn’t for me and actually made me feel worse about myself. I continued to worsen under his care. In February, I switched to a Christian-based counselor and dramatically improved. She listened to me for $75 an hour and at the end of the session, gave me helpful advice. The support of my counselor and boyfriend helped me to get through the trying time. Bob helped pull me through graduation the next semester despite occasional moments of relapsing (into bed).
Bob, not accustomed to the severe depression at first, immediately became frustrated and used the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality. After all, despite his depression, he was still going to work, still living. When he noticed that strategy wasn’t working, he did some research on depression and became a little more sympathetic.
However, our relationship began taking a turn for the worse: we began arguing about pretty important things – where we’d live and whether we’d have biological children. We took "breaks" on and off and after several attempts at discussing breaking up, we tried to do so. Of course, it didn’t last. His depression kept him from feeling confident in our relationship and his ability to handle my depression. He conveniently left out how he was worried that his depression would conflict with mine.
Men and depression. What a loaded topic. This may be a long entry so brace yourselves.
My husband suffers from depression. He reads this blog and may be embarrassed to some extent since his mother reads it too. But his story (intermingled with mine eventually) is worth sharing because it may help others understand some of the stigma men face. I don’t have the full picture, but I’ll tell you his experience from what I’ve gathered.
My husband, he comments as Bob, slowly began to suffer from depression early in his teen years. As a large boy – as in large, I do mean morbidly obese, unfortunately – he was picked on, teased to no end, and practically tortured. Getting beat up by his brother and cousin didn’t do much to help, either.
Bob, a quiet, shy kid, was able to hide his developing depression well. If he was happy, he had the same sullen face that remained when he was upset or sad. By his senior year of high school, he was the tallest guy in the class, which by that point, people stopped provoking him.
But the hurt and social ridicule remained with him. He went off to college, continuing to be insecure about his weight. He assumed that he wouldn’t make any friends since he didn’t have any after high school. At the end of his sophomore year, he finally opened himself up to friendships with roommates, suitemates, and those who lived within his hall. He’d tried two dates that never worked out. He remained quiet, shy, and girlfriendless. His face remained sullen, garnering the name, “Mr. Happy Face.”
March 3, 2007 at 1:25 am (Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Bipolar Disorder, Medicine/Meds, Pharma, Schizophrenia)
Tags: anxiety, bifeprunox, bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, clinical trials, Depression, desvenlafaxine, diabetic, Effexor, Effexor XR, fibromyalgia, GAD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, hot flashes, learn and confirm, levonorgestrel, lybex, MDD, menopause, neuropathic apin, PMDD, premenstrual dysmorphic diroder, Pristiq, Schizophrenia, vasomotor symptoms, venlafaxine, Wyeth
News stories on Wyeth’s Pristiq, Effexor’s “knockoff”, have focused on the drug’s uses that are pending FDA-approval: vasomotor symptoms accompanying menopause (see hot flashes) and depression. (“Knockoff” term courtesy of CLPsych.) The major media has failed to pick up on Wyeth’s Phase III clinical trials to use Pristiq for fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain (injured tissue or damaged nerve fibers) in diabetics. A search for Pristiq on Wyeth’s Web site yields no results. Desvenlafaxine yields two very meager results.
In related matters, bifeprunox is pending FDA-approval for the use of schizophrenia and is still in Phase III for use of bipolar disorder. They are also in Phase III of testing Lybrex (levonorgestrel) for use for Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder in addition to the drug functioning as an oral contraceptive. (I’ll be honest; I had NO clue that diagnosis existed.) In any event, I’ve been misdiagnosed because according to the symptoms, I qualify. I think I also qualify for OOPS – Overdiagnosed and Overmedicated Patient Syndrome.
I’d like expound on Wyeth’s Learn and Confirm phase that’s supposed to replace Phase I and II of clinical trials. It sounds like a speedier way to just get drugs to Phase III of clin. trials, but it’s late and I’m working on something else, so I’ll save that for another day.
The NYT published a story on Feb. 6 about how talk therapy aids panic disorders.
The study seems interesting. The psych world is excited because of its promising results. The results do seem hopeful but give the sample size, it's too early to tell.
"A team of New York analysts published [in The American Journal of Psychiatry] the first scientifically rigorous study of a short-term variation of the therapy for panic disorder, a very common form of anxiety. The study was small, but the therapy proved to be surprisingly effective in a group of severely disabled people… The brand of therapy tested relies on core tenets of analysis, like the search for the underlying psychological meaning of symptoms. But unlike traditional psychoanalysis, it focused on relieving symptoms quickly, and was time-limited. Previous studies of similar approaches have shown some promise for other disorders, like depression."
Perhaps Dr. David H. Barlow, a psychologist at Boston University, had the best insight:
"[He] said… that the study was too small to be conclusive but that 'the authors should be congratulated for actually taking the first step in doing the hard work of beginning to evaluate treatments” that are widely used without good supportive evidence.
The researchers tested a pared-down version of analysis tailored specifically for panic attacks, the breathless, paralyzing dread that strikes some 1 percent to 2 percent of people, seemingly out of nowhere. Previous studies had found that other kinds of therapy — including exposure techniques, in which people learn to diffuse their anxieties by facing them one small step at a time — can relieve panic attacks in half to two-thirds of patients, depending on the severity and type of anxiety."
The article doesn't mention where the estimated "some 1 percent to 2 percent of people" comes from so I'll probably do some digging around to find out how many people are estimated to suffer from anxiety disorders and panic attacks. It's also interesting to note that studies used a form of psychological behavioral therapy to help patients manage their symptoms.
"Half of the group received a form of relaxation training, in which they learned how to moderate their arousal by tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups. The other half received psychodynamic therapy, working with their therapist in two weekly sessions to understand the underlying meaning of their symptoms — when the reactions first started and how they might be linked to loss, broken relationships or childhood experiences that unconsciously haunted their current lives."
Relaxation techniques — don't Ativan and Klonopin achieve the same result except much faster?
"After 12 weeks, 39 percent of those working with relaxation techniques improved significantly on standard measures of anxiety and reported fewer panic-related problems in their relationships and work. But almost three-quarters of those receiving psychodynamic therapy reported similar benefits. "
Thirty-nine percent of 49 patients equals about 19 patients who "improved significantly." It's not brain science, but you've left with another 30 who didn't. However, nearly 75 percent of the sample size "reported similar benefits" from psychodynamic therapy. Perhaps it wasn't revealed in the American Journal or it's a shoddy article thrown together at the last minute, but I'd like to know what "similar benefits" the study is speaking of.
Also, isn't 12 weeks longer than most clinical trials funded by drug companies? Perhaps I'm thinking that's just the first phase of a clinical trial…?
"One former patient treated with this therapy began to have panic attacks after witnessing a young woman die of an illness, said her doctor, Fredric N. Busch, a Cornell psychiatrist and a co-author of the new study.
The patient, who was not a part of the study, described the death as deeply unfair, and in sessions explored perceptions of unfairness in her work and her life, including her childhood. “Once she was able to understand this pattern, the panic became less frightening, she felt safer and was eventually able to get rid of the symptoms,” Dr. Busch said."
I'm no doctor, but this sounds more like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This example makes PTSD sound less like a mental illness and more like a behavior to be unlearned. Perhaps it's true? How do events "trigger" a mental illness? Is it inherited or can it be acquired? What a debatable topic. Oy.
"The researchers said that even if this approach was not for everyone, it appeared to be especially beneficial for a particular group. In an analysis of individual patient’s responses, the researchers found that those who also had a personality disorder, like avoidant personality, showed significantly greater improvement than those whose symptoms were related solely to anxiety. Patients with multiple diagnoses are usually more difficult to treat. "
It's nice to think that these techniques could replace anti-anxiety meds. But alas, they won't; Big Pharma wouldn't allow it. But a girl can dream, can't she?
(The boss won't let me skip lunch and leave early so… here are your updates…)
I've been away from this journal for a while for a number of reasons. I'll be candid:
1. Work has become busy. The yearly schedule at work is in line with tax season (even though I don't work in anything related to accounting) so I'm usually busy from January through May. Expect tons of blogging in June and July — there is NOTHING to do.
2. My personal life has become quite busy too. I don't really have a free night except for Sundays and I'm left exhausted from doing something every single night of the week. Free Friday nights tend to be a rare commodity.
3. I feel awful that I can't keep up on anyone's blog at the moment. There are so many wonderful blogs that I'm addicted to reading and it's much too time-consuming at the moment. (I have this tendency to read the first post and then read back entries all the way to January. Before I know it, I've spent 2 hours at work wasting time.)
4. I'm a perfectionist who meticulously reads over most of my previously written posts and corrects grammar, spelling, etc.
There's probably more that I can't remember at the moment, but you get the picture. Now, on to diagnosing myself…
January 25, 2007 at 8:01 pm (Antidepressants, Medicine/Meds)
Tags: anxiety, celexa, citalopram, clinical trials, Depression, medication, meds, NNR, NNR Therapeutics, psych meds, Targacept, TC-2216, treatment
Targacept is in the process of developing a “new class of [oral] drugs known as NNR (neuronal nicotinic receptor) Therapeutics.” They’re starting the first phase of a clinical trial called TC-2216 that targets depression and anxiety treatment.
“The trial is designed to evaluate the safety and tolerability of TC-2216 and to assess its pharmacokinetic profile. The trial is a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, with sequential ascending single oral doses administered to healthy male volunteers.”
The next paragraph in the press release (basically) that I got this from goes on to explain that the new compound focuses in on the central nervous system and mood-regulating neurotransmitters, blah, blah, blah.
“In preclinical studies, TC-2216 showed greater potency than and anti-depressant effects comparable to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricyclics, which are commonly used treatments for depression, as well as anxiety-relieving effects.”
Because every new product in the clinical trial phase and has yet to receive FDA approval is better than everything currently out on the market. Of course.
“In November, the company announced positive top line results from a Phase II clinical trial of TRIDMAC, a treatment combination comprised of mecamylamine hydrochloride as an augmentation therapy to citalopram hydrobromide, in patients who did not respond adequately to citalopram alone. Mecamylamine hydrochloride binds non-selectively to various NNR subtypes, but there is a body of scientific evidence that suggests that its anti-depressant activity is derived through its antagonism at the alpha4beta2 NNR.”
What’s that mean? They’re basically working on Celexa II if people were treatment-resistant to the original Celexa. Like many other drug companies, they’re patenting a similar version of Celexa once Celexa’s eligible to become a generic brand.
“‘The results of our TRIDMAC trial not only substantiate the promise of the NNR mechanism in the treatment of depression and other mood disorders, but also further bolster our enthusiasm for the potential of TC-2216 said J. Donald deBethizy, Ph.D., Targacept’s President and Chief Executive Officer.’”
That’s a pretty bold statement for a company that’s just in Phase I of a clinical trial.
January 18, 2007 at 9:18 pm (Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Bipolar Disorder, Children, Depression, Loose Screws Mental Health News, Medicine/Meds, Mental Health/Illness, Personal, Pharma)
Tags: anxiety, bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, black-box warning, blood sugar, dementia, depressed, Depression, diabetes, Eli Lilly, FDA, hyperglycemia, infant depression, Jack B. Weinstein, Lilly, mania, manic, manic-depression, mental health, mental illness, mirtazapine, off-lable, Olanzapine, psychosis, psychotic, PTSD, remeron, weight gain, zispin, Zyprexa
Starting off with some crazy (npi) mental health news, psychotherapists are now beginning to diagnose depression and anxiety in – infants. Yes, infants. Before you know it, newborns will begin suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after enduring complications during delivery. Fetuses will suffer from depression due to lack of exposure to light.
I’m all for diagnosing mental illness in children, but infant depression? Unless it’s mistreated, the concept is ridiculous.
“He says he doesn’t put babies on the couch. Instead, he observed Jayda through a one way mirror. He was looking for clues on why she wouldn’t bond with her mother, Kari Garza.”
“Psychologist Douglas Goldsmith says ‘even by the first birthday, some of the research is saying we should be able to start to see signs of more serious social disorders.’
There are some warning signs to look out for, such as a lack interest in sights and sounds. Others include of lack of desire to interact; listlessness; or excessive crying.”
I can’t help but think it’s rooted in a physical rather than a mental problem. I excessively cried for six months as an infant; no knew that I’d developed eczema and the itching was unbearable because I wasn’t able scratch.
“Figuring out what’s depression versus normal behavior is hard, according Pediatrician Linda Nelson of the Franciscan Children’s Hospital, because ‘the crankiness and all of that, teasing that out from true depression, it’s very difficult.'”
“I may be way off the mark on this one, but if Iâm not mistaken, an infantâs cognitive abilities are incredibly limited and, for the most part, are dictated entirely by instinctual behaviors. It seems that it would be impossible to determine if an infant had depression or anxiety because itâs impossible to ask them.”
Nope, not off the mark at all.
Want to know what dealing with a bipolar is like? The following is dead on:
“Bipolar is a hell of a disease, and I wonder if patients [at my community health center job] knew how devastating it is, whether they’d choose to label themselves that way.
Bipolar used to be called manic-depression. People with bipolar disorder are constantly on a roller coast ride between severe depression and mania. On the depressed end, this can include feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt, changes in eating (over- or under-), changes in sleep patterns (can’t go to sleep or can’t wake up), and recurrent thoughts of death.
On the manic end, bipolar people experience feelings of grandiosity, believing they’re capable of things nobody can do. At this end of the spectrum they often sleep very little, their thoughts race, and they can’t stop talking. They tend to get involved in risky activities, such as unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments. Some feel more angry than expansive in their manic phase, or when they’re on their way up or down.”
Congrats. You get the gold star. You’ve just learned something today (if you’re not bipolar).
I recently read Graham’s Blog and among a list of meds, I saw “Zispin.”
According to the wonderful wikipedia, mirta treats “mild to severe” depression.” That’s a wide spectrum of patients to cover. Mirta is as effective for people with mild depression as it is for those who are dang near suicidal everyday? I’m not convinced.
Of course, since it’s a med, it’s used off-label for panic disorder, GAC, OCD, and PTSD among other health problems.
If you’re you suffer from bipolar and get a prescription for this stuff, get another doctor quick: mania is a side effect.
I won’t get into the fine details of how mirta works, but it appears that it enhances neurotransmitter actions rather than affect serotonin levels directly.
There’s my new medication lesson of the day.
I’m late on the bandwagon, here. I’m sure Furious Seasons, CL Psych, and other blogs have railed on the injustice of Judge Weinstein’s stupid – yes, it is stupid – decision to uphold his gag order (he imposed it so why would he change it?) that keeps blogs from “dissemination” Eli Lilly’s leaked documents. Basically, the judge wants to block wiki Zyprexa Kills from showing this info. Any other blog that has the documents, links to it, or publishes it is â well â subject to a gag order as well. *gag*
I have a personal opinion on the matter and since you’re reading this blog, you’ll be subjected to it.
January 3, 2007 at 6:39 am (Antidepressants, Depression, Loose Screws Mental Health News, Medicine/Meds, Mental Health/Illness, Pharma, Suicide)
Tags: Antidepressants, anxiety, big pharma, Dawdy, diagnose, diagnosis, Effexor XR, free will, Furious Seasons, health news, intueri, medical services, medication, medicine, meds, mental health, mental illness, New York Times, News, NYT, overdiagnosed, pharma companies, pharmaceutical companies, pharmaceuticals, pharmacy, psych meds, SSRI, stress, Suicide, suicide risk, venlafaxine, Washington Times, WISH-TV
Surprise, surprise — the likelihood of suicide attempts increases with antidepressants.
“Suicidal patients taking antidepressants have a ‘markedly increased’ risk of additional suicide attempts but a "markedly decreased" risk of dying from suicide, a large Finnish study has found.
“The research into nearly 15,400 patients hospitalized for suicide attempts between 1997 and 2003 showed that ‘current antidepressant use was associated with a 39 percent increase in risk of attempted suicide, but a 32 percent decrease in risk of completed suicide and a 49 percent reduced risk of death from any cause,’ the authors wrote in a report published in the Dec. 4 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
“The Finnish study analyzed 15,390 suicidal patients of all ages for an average of 3.4 years. The authors said they did this ‘because previous suicide attempts are the most important risk factor for predicting suicide.’”
I think 15,390 patients is a sizeable, significant study that could probably yield semi-accurate statistics.
“Among the 7,466 males and 7,924 females examined, there were 602 suicides, 7,136 suicide attempts requiring hospitalization and 1,583 deaths recorded during follow-up. The risk of completed suicide was 9 percent lower among those taking any antidepressants than among those not taking antidepressants.
“But the picture was not so bright for all those who took SSRIs. It was for those taking fluoxetine (Prozac), who had a 48 percent lower risk of suicide than those not taking medication. But the study found that those taking another SSRI, venlafaxine hydrochloride (Effexor XR), had a 61 percent increased risk.”
So Prozac is better than Effexor XR in terms of suicidal risk. Nice, considering that I've had a 10-year history of suicidal attempts and this study seems to show that venlafaxine increases the risk of suicide attempts. Perhaps Effexor should be prescribed to those who aren't/have never been suicidal?
December 18, 2006 at 11:31 am (Anxiety/Stress, Celebrities, Depression, Loose Screws Mental Health News, Medicine/Meds, Mental Health/Illness, Pharma)
Tags: antidepressant, antipsychotic, anxiety, atypical, bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Bracco, canada.com, clinical anxiety, clinical depression, clinical trials, Depression, diabetes, Dr. Melfi, Eli Lilly, high blood sugar, hyperglycemia, Lorraine Bracco, med, medications, mental health, mental illness, New York Times, Olanzapine, psych meds, Schizophrenia, side effects, survey, The Sopranos, winter, zoloft, Zyprexa
Canada.com reports that a Canadian mental health survey found that more than 75 percent of people diagnosed with clinical anxiety or depression experience a severe relapse during the winter months, namely December and January.
“Among the symptoms those people reported, more than half said they experienced ‘feelings of worthlessness,’ ‘inappropriate guilt’ and difficulty thinking or concentrating during the winter holiday season.”
The survey also found that decreased daylight hours and increased debt during the holiday season contribute to stress among those with chronic mental illness. At least the article didn’t say there was a spike in suicides…
Lorraine Bracco, known as Dr. Melfi on The Sopranos, has written a book about her struggle with clinical depression. She notes the difference between how she functioned before her depression hit and after. She cites Zoloft as the antidepressant that helped her overcome the hump and a mental realization that she needed to get help. She no longer uses antidepressants but she feels that the antidepressant got her to a place where she could find herself again, “I found my joie de vivre, my spirit, my voice.”
And finally, it’s time to be pissed off at Eli Lilly. Documents obtained by a mental health lawyer, given to The New York Times, show that Lilly execs tried to downplay the risk of obesity and hyperglycemia in Zyprexa. The two side effects can lead to a significantly increased risk for diabetes. Lilly material even included statements to sales reps telling them to downplay those risks when pitching the atypical antipsychotic to doctors. Zyprexa, Lilly’s best-selling drug, has been sold to 2 million people and has raked in $4.2 billion worldwide. The drug is primarily prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Of course, Lilly execs, aware that the side effects would keep patients away from the drug, downplayed the risks and even went so far as to say, “There is no scientific evidence establishing that Zyprexa causes diabetes.”
Lawsuits speaks differently, however. Lilly has agreed to pay $750 million to 8,000 people who claim that Zyprexa has caused them to develop diabetes or other medical problems. According to the Times, “thousands more suits against the company are pending.”
July 21, 2006 at 11:44 pm (Personal)
Tags: ADHD, anxiety, bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, black, blog, Depression, depressive, diagnosis, female, flaws, major depressive disorder, manic, MDD, mental health, mental illness, suicidal attempts, suicidal behavior, suicidal ideation, suicidal thoughts, Suicide, who i am, woman
I am a 26-year-old black female who suffers from bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed with the illness in November 2006. I’d been diagnosed as suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD) beginning at the age of 14. I still consider myself to suffer primarily from depression although I do have occasional manic episodes.
This blog has helped me to recognize many of the things that I am. That
I truly am more than my diagnosis and that my diagnosis does not define
me. I am not just a person with manic and depressive episodes. I am a person with a personality. I’m smart, witty, drop-dead gorgeous—okay, I wish, but I’m not ugly—musically inclined, and ambitious. And that’s just scratching the surface.
I can be happy, sad, angry, and joyful. I have so many emotions that could classify me as anything. I have a short attention span, for instance. The docs missed the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis (although I lack the hyperactivity). I suffer from anxiety as well but not a single medical record lists me as suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). So I self-diagnose. It helps me to realize that all of my flaws can pigeonhole me into any diagnosis I choose. I accept my flaws – “diagnosable” or not – and my strengths. This is my journey to learn more about myself, my diagnosis, my medical treatment, and anything relating to my personal life and general mental health.
I’m skeptical of pharmaceutical companies. I don’t hate them; however, many of their practices are shady and I—along with some of my favorite medical blogs —hope to shed light on the “unfavorable” news they choose to keep hidden from the public.
I highlight celebrities who admit to mental illnesses. Many of them suffer from depression, which is the fashionable mental illness of the moment, but others truly suffer from problems that are worth talking about.
I also write about my personal life relating to mental illness. I struggle with constant thoughts of suicide. Readers of this blog will note a pronounced emphasis on suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Feel free to read on to the next entry about my Perfectionistic Tendencies. Chronicling my journey to managing and treating my illness can hopefully aid me. And eventually, someone else.