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

I need a new subject header for “Mental health news.” It’s so blah. I need something snazzy. Perhaps “Loose Screws News”? Okay, nevermind… That’s what I get for being a former copy editor. Renamed as of 2/16/2009.

A new study, published in the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology has found that women who experience chronic headaches, namely migraines, are four times as likely to report symptoms of major depressive disorder. Of the 1,000 women surveyed, “593 reported episodic headache (fewer than 15 headaches per month) and 439 had chronic headache (more than 15 headaches per month).” Migraines were diagnosed in 90 percent of the women. Author of the study Dr. Gretchen Tietjen said that more studies are being done to discover whether the a serotonin imbalance in the central nervous system is the cause of chronic headaches, severe physical problems, and major depressive disorder. (source: The Trouble With Spikol)

According to businesswire.com, the non-profit organization Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI) will provide up to $9 million to fund Omeros Corporation’s schizophrenia program, which will help the completion of
Phase 1 clinical trials. Business Wire basically listed SMRI’s press release so I’m curious to do some research on SMRI and how this non-profit was able to obtain $9 million. I don’t know much about this organization but a non-profit organization funding a biopharmaceutical company’s program seems out of the ordinary to me. (This may be something normal, but I’m not aware of this.) According to SMRI’s “about us” blurb at the bottom of the PR, they state:

“The Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI) is a nonprofit organization that supports research on the causes and treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), both through work carried out in its own laboratories and through support of researchers worldwide who are working on these diseases. SMRI has provided over $200 million in funding since 1989.”

Whoa. $200 million since 1989 is not a whole lot. Where in the world did this $9 million come from? Do non-profit organizations actually save up money to blow on a worthy future project? (The cynical patient in me wonders if there’s a drug company like GSK or Wyeth slipping money through SMRI’s back door.)

Liz Spikol usually blogs headlines before I can even get to ‘em so I credit her with discovering the following three links:

According to the Delhi Newsline, yoga can help with cases of severe depression and schizophrenia. (Hm, interesting.) Patients who took yoga classes in addition to meds improved more rapidly than patients only on meds. The connection with yoga seems to be the relaxation component — outdoing counseling and “talk therapy,” which can aid treatment in a mentally ill individual.

Oy. UPI has reported that Swedish researchers have discovered that those who struggle with suicidal ideation have problems with nightmares and sleep problems. Of the 165 patients surveyed, 89 percent of them reported a sleep problem. Nightmares proved to be the highest indicators of those with a high suicide risk. However, lead author Nisse Sjostrom is quick to note,

“Our finding of an association between nightmares and suicidality does not imply causality.”

But

“Our findings should inspire clinicians to include questions concerning sleep disturbance and especially nightmares in the clinical assessment of suicidal patients.”

CPAPMy husband thinks I suffer from sleep apnea – he claims I stop breathing sometimes in the middle of the night. I’m going for a sleep assessment sometime in February so I’ll let you know if I come back with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.

I’ve had increased dreams (or nightmares, what have you) on these psych meds. I haven’t been excessively suicidal and I hope it’s no indication of more suicide attempts on the way. *sigh* Were any of the surveyed patients on meds like Effexor and Lamictal?

(ASIDE: Dang working in a medical industry! I’m becoming more familiar with unfamiliar medical acronyms.)

And finally, News 24 reports that children who suffered from neglect and abuse are more likely to develop severe depression as adults. The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, says the data specifically shows that “depression is a consequence of… abuse.” Um, who wouldn’t be depressed after such a traumatic experience? How do physicians differentiate between major depressive disorder (DSM-IV term for clinical depression) and post-traumatic stress disorder? Ah, once we get the answer, we can use it as a Jeopardy! question.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

ProzacIn a stunning turn of medication use, Australia hopes to prescribe Prozac to pedophiles like its European sister, the UK. Prozac suppresses sexual libido and in turn, will supposedly keep pedos in check.

Suicide prompts fundraising walk – According to Wylie Tene, public relations manager for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, someone in the United States dies by suicide every 18 minutes.

“I couldn’t make myself happy, and I couldn’t understand why,” said Rachel O’Connell, of Benicia. O’Connell, 18, knows that pain [of depression] well, but it was her own close call that drives her to walk and raise funds to help prevent suicide from claiming another life.  “I’m just happy,” O’Connell said. “It’s weird to think how I could feel that. It’s scary to think that I wouldn’t be here. I couldn’t imagine feeling that way again.”

Stephen FryBritish actor Stephen Fry admits he has bipolar disorder:

Fry hopes to raise awareness of manic depression and break some of the taboos surrounding the condition.

“I went into my garage, sealed the door with a duvet I brought, and got into my car … Sat there for at least, I think, two hours in the car, my hands on the ignition key. It was a … suicide attempt, not a cry for help.”

In a Lansing, Michigan paper, a family is using their experience with suicide to get anti-suicide plans into action. The end of the article cites some important, but frequently overlooked tips about how to tell whether someone is suicidal:

According to the Youth Suicide Prevention School-Based Guide created by the University of South Florida:

  • Early warning signs are withdrawal from friends, preoccupation with death, marked personality change and serious mood changes, difficulty concentrating, difficulties in school, change in eating and sleeping habits, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, frequent complaints of headache, stomachache and fatigue, persistent boredom and loss of interest in things one cares about.
  • Late warning signs are actually talking about suicide, impulsiveness such as violence, rebellion or running away, refusing help or feeling “beyond help,” complaining of being a bad person and making statements about hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness. Other signs are a person who suddenly becomes cheerful after a period of depression or who gives away favorite possessions or who makes a last will and testament and says things such as “I wish I were dead.”

Lindsey LohanSomething I initially heard of on The Trouble with Spikol, I learned that Lindsay Lohan beats depression by slipping into stiletto heels and going shopping! Of course! Who needs anti-depressants when you’ve got shopping therapy?

Suicides in the Indian community in Malaysia are three times higher than the national average. Dr. T. Maniam, a university professor in Malaysia, cited poverty, high school dropout rates, alcoholism and physical abuse as reasons for the staggering number. It is estimated that for every 100,000 people, the national average rate of suicide is 10-12 people. That figure jumps to 30-35 in the Malaysian Indian community.

Philadelphia EaglesThe Philly Eagles’ J.R. Reed battled depression after suffering a leg injury that threatened to end his career.

“When I found out what actually happened I didn’t get out of bed for months. I was depressed. I didn’t even want to live sometimes. I had to go through a lot of stuff to get where I am now.”

And finally, Utah ranks seventh in the nation in prescribed antidepressants. But Utah’s patrons also seem more likely to seek medical attention, not just for mental illness, but for a variety of health reasons.