As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the LAist reports that the mental health of frontline workers, such as health care workers and first responders, may be in jeopardy. The article cites Dr. Joshua Morganstein who alludes to possible “psychological disorders, like depression and anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.”


KARE-TV 11 in Minneapolis-St. Paul reported that police brutality of unarmed Black Americans affects the mental health of Black Americans as a whole. Research published 2 years ago shows trauma is an illness that can negatively impact mental health. In this case, police killings negatively affected the mental state of Black adults. Alexander Tsai, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said that the trauma can manifest as “depression, anxiety or irritability” in adults.


WJLA-TV/ABC7 interviewed Dr. Alban Gaultier, an associate professor of neuroscience at the University of Virginia, about the potential for an antidepressant drug, fluvoxamine, to be used in the fight against COVID-19. The drug shows promise by “preventing[ing] dangerous overreactions by the immune system” induced by COVID-19. A clinical trial is currently underway at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. A possible answer could emerge as soon as 2 months from now.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

An antipsychotic inhalation powder has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of agitation in adults with schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder. While loxapine (brand name: Adasuve) by Alexza Pharmaceuticals acts rapidly, the side effects include “bronchospasm and increased mortality in elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis,” according to Medscape. In case you don’t know, bronchospasm can lead to acute respiratory problems in people with lung disease, asthma, or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Plans are for the drug to only be accessible through a medical facility with the ability to treat bronchospasms.

In related and somewhat interesting news, the Medscape article also notes that 3.2 million people in the U.S. are being treated for schizophrenia or bipolar I. “Of these, approximately 90% will develop agitation during the course of their illness.”

That’s an incredibly high number of people who develop agitation. Just sayin’.


According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, patients in a study dealing with depression seemed to have high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for increased risk of heart and inflammatory disease. The lead researcher notes that “people with increased CRP have a two- to threefold risk of depression.” It is not clear whether CRP causes depression or is simply a sign of it. Increased levels of CRP tend to be seen in obese patients and those with chronic diseases.

“More than 21 million Americans suffer from depression, a leading cause of disability, according to Mental Health America.”

Note: the 2011 estimate of those residing in the U.S. stands at more than 311 million.


Depression is increasing among Japan’s public school teachers.

“A report by the Ministry of Education, Sports, Culture, Science and Technology shows that in 2011, around 5,200 public school teachers had to go on sick leave due to various mental illnesses, including severe depression.”

The Japan Daily Press article also notes:

“The study also highlights the fact that the main reason for the increasing depression is a school environment that puts too much workload and pressure on the teachers that they cannot have a healthy work-life balance anymore, much less deal with students, their guardians and the paper work that comes with all of these. (emphasis mine)

I recently finished a book by actor Tony Danza called I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had in which he chronicles his yearlong stint in Philadelphia’s inner city public school system. He echoes some of these sentiments as well. After trying to teach his students, he notes that it is difficult not to get involved in their personal lives as well. In the Epilogue, Danza writes:

“…I can only do so much. Where does teaching stop, and start? Where should it? I don’t really know. To engage my students, I found that I had to become engaged in their lives, their problems, and their futures. That connection was what made the job the most rewarding. Yet it was also the intensity of that involvement that, by the end of the year, had made the job of teaching so much tougher than I’d ever expected.”

It seems that Japan’s public school teachers are no different from American public school teachers.


Although 38 states require mental health background checks, only a quarter of states actually report their statistics to the federal NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System).


And surprise, according to a recent study, pot could lead to psychosis in teens or teens who smoke pot can later develop psychosis. I find it interesting that teens were actually evaluated after smoking pot.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

I decided to publish a “Loose Screws Mental Health News” post even though I said a few weeks back I wouldn’t do it anymore. Eh, can I change my mind? “Yes I can.”


newbornAccording to the Journal of Psychiatric Research and the British Journal of Psychiatry, women who had abortions suffered from more mental problems than women who did not. However, a report from the American Psychological Association asserts that there is no connection between abortion and mental health issues. (via CBN News; photo from solarnavigator.net)

I can’t imagine that there is no connection. Considering an abortion is stressful enough. I would think actually following through with it would induce a whole new set of problems.

I’m sure Liz Spikol has probably linked to this article already but the Philadelphia Weekly had a great cover story about a man’s struggle to take care of his mentally ill older brother who has bipolar disorder with psychosis. It’s a long read but well worth it and very touching. It reminded me a little bit of what my mother and I went through with my father which made me very empathetic.

An article in the Daily Mail reports that some scientists think depression can be good for people:

There are, they say, more benefits from the blues. Being sad can leave victims stronger, better able to cope with life’s challenges, and can lead to great achievements.

And their claims may stack up historically with Sir Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Sir Isaac Newton and Beethoven all suffering from some form of depression.

A growing number of psychiatrists are now questioning whether doctors and drug companies are too keen to treat the condition with pills that may have side effects and also harm the evolution of human emotion.

I think there’s some truth to that and I wholeheartedly agree with the third paragraph. However, I wonder if they’re simply addressing normal depression aka “the blues” rather than clinical or chronic depression.

Loose Screws Mental Health News No More

For the past 2+ years, I've had a feature called Loose Screws Mental Health News (LSMHN) in which I compiled various news and events relating to mental health and provided my take on it. Since I'm working on a professional website where I hope to do something similar (under a different title, different name, and much less snarkiness), I'm discontinuing the publication of it here.

While I still intend to comment on some of these stories (like an upcoming post on how the FDA refutes the Singulair-suicide link), they'll likely be limited to one post at a time.

Update as of 2/16/09: It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Note: I’m manually typing HTML through my e-mail so if any of the formatting is funky, I apologize in advance.

1) It seems that FDA black box warnings on antidepressants targeted for teen use have led to a decrease in adults being diagnosed with depression. In all honesty, I’m not sure how a black box warning leads to a significant decrease in diagnoses, but I’m not a researcher from the study.

2) Doctors at McGill University in Canada are holding out hope for a faster-acting antidepressant. Most antidepressants take up to six weeks to finally kick in while the seemingly promising compounds, RS 67333 and prucalopride, appear to act “four to seven times faster” than regular antid’s.

3) Sad news: While American suicide rates overall have dropped, the rate of suicide among teenage girls have increased. The preferred method of dying? Hanging.

4) Recent reports have been released that Owen Wilson’s Aug. 26 suicide attempt wasn’t his first – in fact, it was his third.

Official reports confirm Wilson attempted suicide, and now a family friend has told The National Enquirer that the recent incident wasn’t Wilson’s first cry for help.

The unnamed source tells the publication, “A good portion of his (Wilson’s) life has been dedicated to fighting depression and addiction… This is the third time he’s tried killing himself.”

When I hear of celebrities who openly admit to being depressed, I immediately get skeptical. Mandy Moore… Zach Braff… Paris Hilton… Depression is the “hawt” mental illness of choice. Everyone can have it and remain normal! Bipolar’s too crazy and schizophrenia is too psycho. Being bipolar means that you’re spontaneously moody and being schizophrenic means that you’re, well, just not all there. No one wants to be the last two. You can be “sad” and “suffer” from depression — that is, sad about your goldfish of 2 days dying. Mr. Wilson appears to genuinely suffer from depression (among other problems) and my heart goes out to him. As for Britney Spears: I’m fully convinced that the woman has a mental illness. No joke.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

President BushIn an interesting turn, a student at Southern Connecticut State University has discovered a correlation between voting for George W. Bush and mental illness. I’ll refrain from political comment.

The Nassau Guardian, a Bahamian news site, has an article on myths about mental illness and how people should deal with it. The myths come in the form of bad grammar, i.e., “Chile ain’t a thing I can do for no crazy people,” but the responses to the myths are in proper grammar and are actually quite informative.

In Massachusetts, more than 100,000 children who need treatment for mental illness aren’t receiving it:

“Out of nearly 1.5 million children in Massachusetts, 146,419 need mental health services and 102,493 don’t receive the treatment they need, the report estimated.”

Finally, the Clinical Psychiatry and Psychology blog I read occasionally has noted that paroxetine (Paxil and Seroxat) increases the risk of suicide attempts versus placebos. The blogger claims this is the case with most SSRIs. Is this evidence that people are better off on placebos than actual medication?

Loose Screws Mental Health News: Suicide slide

Marie OsmondMarie Osmond was hospitalized not for a suicide attempt — but for a bad reaction to medication she was taking. Interestingly enough, they would not comment on whether she was taking antidepressants. If she was, I’d hope she’d admit it. The recent surge of celebrities admitting that they struggle with mental illness sheds more light on the problem.

A family is suing the University of Akron in Ohio because a student who had drug problems committed suicide. He supposedly was “cleaning up” when the school suspended him. The family cites that he killed himself over the university’s decision and are seeking damages. I’m not sure I agree with the family but it should be interesting if the court rules in their favor; are colleges and universities responsible for students who commit suicide on their premises?

Two Iowa senators are co-sponsoring legislation to try and prevent suicide among war veterans. According to Sen. Tom Harkin, nearly 1,000 veterans under the care of the Veterans Adminstration, commit suicide each year.

In one case of at least 50 lawsuits against Paxil maker GlaxoSmithKline, a woman who was on the antidepressant during pregnancy has had to endure a nightmare: her newborn is on life support and was born with half a heart.

In international news, The Hindu reports that an advocate has filed a public interest litigation petition in the wake of farmer suicides in India. The article introduces a staggering statistic: 10,000 Indian farmers have killed themselves in the past five years because they were unable to repay loans or were not given a fair amount for their produce, which resulted in their indebtedness.

The Australian reports that a new study says people who suffer from BDD, body dysmorphic disorder, are 45 times more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the general population. Individuals with BDD have a “distorted body image and think obsessively about their appearance, often for hours a day. The disorder frequently leads to self-loathing and social isolation.” Estimates suggest that 2.4 percent of people suffer from BDD.