Chapter 12. Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders

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By Emily Anthes In 2002, Marin Sardy and her younger brother Tom traveled to a small Costa Rican town for what they hoped would be a low-key beach vacation. The siblings, both in their 20s, planned to spend a few weeks relaxing, learning to surf, and just generally enjoying each other’s company. Sardy reveals what it means to love someone who is mentally ill and how hard it is to truly understand another person’s mind. And then, one day, Tom began to complain about his face. His bones, he said, had detached from each other, and his jaw had separated from his head. He couldn’t get his face back into alignment, he told Sardy. He began to talk — excitedly and cryptically — about “building matrices” and his plans to swim from Alaska to Japan. His facial expressions turned blank. Sardy observed these developments with growing alarm. She and Tom had grown up with a mother whose life had been derailed by schizophrenia, and she was well acquainted with its signs and symptoms. “Memories unfurl inside as I watch Tom,” Sardy writes in her intimate, multigenerational memoir, “The Edge of Every Day: Sketches of Schizophrenia.” “It is as if I already know that doctors and medications and hospitals and our efforts will all fail him.” “The Edge of Every Day” is Sardy’s attempt to come to terms with a fundamentally mysterious disease and how its effects ripple throughout her family. It’s a deeply compassionate book about what it means to love someone who is mentally ill — about how hard it is to truly understand another person’s mind and the importance of continuing to try. Copyright 2019 Undark

Keyword: Schizophrenia
Link ID: 26415 - Posted: 07.13.2019

By Meghana Keshavan, Christian Angermayer is an unlikely proselyte of psychedelia: The German financier didn’t drink so much as a sip of beer for the first three decades of his life. But five years ago, after careful consideration (and the encouragement of a personal physician), Angermayer boarded a yacht with a handful of his closest friends. They sailed into the crystalline, tropical waters of a jurisdiction in which such substances are legal (he is very emphatic on this point), and had his very first psychedelic trip. His entire worldview was changed. “It was the single most meaningful thing I’ve ever done or experienced in my life,” said Angermayer, 40. “Nothing has ever come close to it.” The first thing Angermayer did after the experience was call his parents and tell them, with a newfound conviction, that he loved them. Then, being a consummate entrepreneur, he quickly identified a business opportunity: He would commercialize psychedelics. Today, with a net worth of roughly $400 million accrued through various enterprises, Angermayer is one of the driving forces behind the movement to turn long-shunned psychoactive substances, like the psilocybin derived from so-called magic mushrooms, into approved medications for depression and other mental illnesses. Though he still resolutely won’t touch even a drop of alcohol, he has banded together a team of like-minded entrepreneurs—including Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel—to invest in a handful of startups focused on developing psychedelics. © 2019 Scientific American,

Keyword: Drug Abuse; Depression
Link ID: 26403 - Posted: 07.10.2019

By Bassey Ikpi This bipolar II. This many-sided creature. This life of mine. This brain constantly in conference with the racing heart, reminding me to slow down, stay calm. Remember the first time you were ever on a Ferris wheel? Remember when you got to the very top and just sat there, the entire world at your feet? You felt like you could reach up and grab the sky. Your entire body tingled with the intersection of joy and indestructibility and fearlessness and that good anxious recklessness. So damn excited to be alive at that moment. You could do anything. Now imagine feeling that every day for a week, or a month, or a few months. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, without a break. So that everything you do feels like THE BIGGEST MOST AMAZING THING YOU HAVE EVER DONE IN YOUR LIFE! The first week or so, it’s great. Until it’s not. Because then the insomnia sets in. And you’re stacking days on top of one another, adding a new one before the last one ends. And you have to write the entire book tonight before you can sleep or eat or leave the house or do anything. But first you have to call your friends and your sister and the guy you just met and tell them all how much you love them. Tell each one that you’ve never felt this way about any other human being in the entire world and you’re so lucky and so glad and so grateful to have such an amazing, magical person in your life. And you believe it because it’s true. Until it isn’t. Until everything about them — the way their voices trail, the way their mouths move when they chew, the fact that he crosses his legs at the knee, the way she speaks about movies she’s never seen, the way they refer to celebrities by their first names — starts to make you feel like your blood is filled with snakes and you want to scream awful things at them about how the sounds of their voices feel like teeth on your skin and how much you hate their mother or their apartment or yourself. You want to bury your hatred in them, but you’re never quite sure who you hate the most. You, it’s always you. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Schizophrenia
Link ID: 26395 - Posted: 07.08.2019

By Courtenay Harris Bond Before I started ketamine infusions this spring, I was milling around my house, unhinged, ducking into my bedroom to weep behind the closed door whenever my three young children were occupied. I felt like an actor playing a wife and mother. I had been having trouble concentrating on anything for several months, including my work as a journalist. Unable to read a book or watch a crime thriller — diversions I usually love and use to unwind — and in a torturous limbo with no plan, I felt hopeless, full of self-loathing, even suicidal. The only thing keeping me from hurting myself was the thought of what that would do to my family. Globally, nearly 800,000 people die by suicide each year, according to the World Health Organization, which also reports that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Approximately 10 to 30 percent of those with major depressive disorder have treatment-resistant depression, typically defined as a failure to respond to at least two different treatments. I have treatment-resistant depression, as well as generalized anxiety disorder. Throughout my life, I have been on a quest to conquer these formidable demons. I am 48 and have been in therapy off and on — mostly on — since the fourth grade. I have tried approximately 14 different antidepressants, but they either haven’t worked, or they’ve caused insufferable side effects. I have done a full course of transcranial magnetic stimulation, during which magnetic fields were applied to my scalp at specific points that affect depression and anxiety. And I recently tried Nardil, a first-generation antidepressant that requires a special diet. I was dizzy at times with blurred vision and felt overwhelming fatigue to the point where I feared I might fall asleep while driving. Copyright 2019 Undark

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 26391 - Posted: 07.05.2019

By Dana Najjar Four days after the birth of our daughter, my husband and I brought her home from the hospital. We were exhausted but giddy, ready to start our new lives. For nine months I had imagined what those first weeks at home would be like: sleepless nights, bleary-eyed arguments, a few late-night tears, all bundled up in the soft happy glow of new motherhood. In short, an adventure. But none of that materialized. What I came up against instead was a sheer wall of blinding panic. We had left the hospital with instructions to wake our newborn up every three hours to feed, but by the time we got home and settled in, five hours had elapsed, and nothing would rouse her long enough to nurse. She lay limp in my arms, drifting in and out of sleep, howling uncontrollably just long enough to tire herself out. We took our cues from the internet and tickled her feet with ice cubes, placed wet towels on her head and blew onto her face, but only managed to upset her more. And somewhere between trying to persuade her to latch for what felt like the hundredth time and willing my body to stay awake, it struck me that I had made a terrible mistake, one that I could never unmake. My stomach lurched, my hands and feet went numb and my heart began to pound. © 2019 Scientific American

Keyword: Depression; Hormones & Behavior
Link ID: 26359 - Posted: 06.26.2019

New statistics suggest almost one-quarter of mothers experience either postpartum depression or an anxiety disorder in the months following birth, and that younger mothers are most at risk. The Statistics Canada survey analyzed the experiences of 7,085 respondents who gave birth in 2018 between January and the end of June. The women were surveyed online and by phone five to 13 months after delivery. The data found 23 per cent reported feelings consistent with either postpartum depression or an anxiety disorder — feelings that are more intense and longer-lasting than the so-called "baby blues" and may not resolve on their own. The rate ranged from 16 per cent in Saskatchewan to 31 per cent in Nova Scotia and was especially high among younger respondents. Among those under the age of 25 — numbering between 500 and 550 respondents — 30 per cent reported mental-health issues. That's compared to 23 per cent of mothers aged 25 and older. The survey also asked mothers about drug use and found 3 per cent used cannabis during pregnancy and 3 per cent used cannabis while breastfeeding. In addition, 1 per cent reported opioid use during pregnancy, including medical use and non-medical use. The survey was conducted in conjunction with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada and involved data collected from Nov. 29, 2018 to Feb. 5, 2019.

Keyword: Depression; Hormones & Behavior
Link ID: 26354 - Posted: 06.25.2019

By Benedict Carey and Jennifer Steinhauer Confronted by a rising rate of suicides in some groups of veterans., the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday decided to approve the use of a new and costly depression drug, despite concerns among doctors and other experts about the drug’s effectiveness. The decision to endorse the drug — called Spravato, and manufactured by Janssen, a unit of Johnson & Johnson — came days after President Trump offered to negotiate a deal between the drug maker and the agency. Johnson & Johnson reportedly was working with associates at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, and the company has been supporting V.A. suicide-prevention efforts. A spokesman for the V.A. said that the decision to approve the drug, which would cover its use by doctors in its nearly 1,000 clinics nationwide, was a medical one. In a statement, the agency said, “V.A. will closely monitor the use of esketamine” — the generic name for Spravato — “in veterans to more fully understand its relative safety and effectiveness as compared to other available treatments. Based on this information, V.A. may revise its clinical guidance” and the availability of the drug. The V.A. stopped short of putting Spavato on its formulary, the list of drugs it requires to be carried in its 260 or so pharmacies. The approval enables V.A. doctors to offer the drug to patients they believe could benefit. Some Congressional Democrats expressed concern at the fast approval process. “I am incredibly alarmed by reporting today that suggests Spravato, a controversial new drug, is being rushed through critical reviews and may be prescribed to veterans before fully vetting the potential risks and benefits,” said Mark Takano, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, in a prepared statement released Wednesday. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 26351 - Posted: 06.24.2019

By Benedict Carey Last winter, several dozen people who were struggling with suicidal urges and bouts of intense emotion opened their lives to a company called Mindstrong, in what has become a closely watched experiment in Silicon Valley. Mindstrong, a venture co-founded by a former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, promised something that no drug or talk therapy can provide: an early-warning system that would flag the user when an emotional crisis seemed imminent — a personal, digital “fire alarm.” For the past year, California state and county mental health officials, along with patient representatives, have met regularly with Mindstrong and another company, 7 Cups, to test smartphone apps for people receiving care through the state’s public mental health system. Officials from 13 counties and two cities are involved, and the apps are already available to the public. The new users, most of whom have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, receive treatment through the Los Angeles County mental health network, and were among the first test subjects in this collaboration. They allowed Mindstrong to digitally install an alternate keyboard on their smartphones, embedded in the app, and to monitor their moment-to-moment screen activity. “People with borderline personality disorder have a very difficult time identifying when distress is very high,” said Lynn McFarr, director of the cognitive and dialectical behavior therapy clinic at Harbor U.C.L.A. Medical Center, which provides care for people in the Los Angeles County system. “If we can show them, in this biofeedback fashion, that the signals went off the rails yesterday, say, after they got into a fight with a co-worker, then they’d be able to anticipate that emotion and target it with the skills they’ve learned.” The potential for digital technology to transform mental health care is enormous, and some 10,000 apps now crowd the market, each promising to soothe one psychological symptom or another. Smartphones allow near continuous monitoring of people with diagnoses such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, disorders for which few new treatments are available. But there has been little research to demonstrate whether such digital supports are effective. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Schizophrenia; Depression
Link ID: 26336 - Posted: 06.18.2019

By Neuroskeptic If you delve into the wildest depths of the scientific literature, you will find a trilogy of papers so weird, that they have become legendary. In these articles, spanning a 12 year period, author Jarl Flensmark says that heeled shoes cause mental illness, while flat footwear promotes brain health: Is there an association between the use of heeled footwear and schizophrenia? (2004) Physical activity, eccentric contractions of plantar flexors, and neurogenesis: therapeutic potential of flat shoes in psychiatric and neurological disorders (2009) Flat shoes increase neurogenesis (2016) The abstract of the first paper gives a good sense of Flensmark’s ideas: A selective literature review and synthesis is used to present a hypothesis that finds support in all facts and is contradicted by none. Heeled footwear began to be used more than a 1000 years ago, and led to the occurrence of the first cases of schizophrenia. Industrialization of shoe production increased schizophrenia prevalence. The neurobiological mechanism for this shoe-induced psychosis is said to be that: During walking synchronised stimuli from mechanoreceptors in the lower extremities increase activity in cerebello-thalamo-cortico-cerebellar loops through their action on NMDA-receptors. Using heeled shoes leads to weaker stimulation of the loops. Reduced cortical activity changes dopaminergic function which involves the basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical-nigro-basal ganglia loops. And so it goes on.

Keyword: Schizophrenia
Link ID: 26305 - Posted: 06.06.2019

by Scott Alexander The first thing you notice at the American Psychiatric Association meeting is its size. By conservative estimates, a quarter of the psychiatrists in the United States are packed into a single giant San Francisco convention center, more than 15,000 people. Being in a crowd of 15,000 psychiatrists is a weird experience. You realize that all psychiatrists look alike in an indefinable way. The men all look balding, yet dignified. The women all look maternal, yet stylish. Sometimes you will see a knot of foreign-looking people huddled together, their nametags announcing them as the delegation from the Nigerian Psychiatric Association or the Nepalese Psychiatric Association or somewhere else very far away. But however exotic, something about them remains ineffably psychiatrist. The second thing you notice at the American Psychiatric Association meeting is that the staircase is shaming you for not knowing enough about Vraylar®. Seems kind of weird. Maybe I’ll just take the escalator… …no, the escalator is advertising Latuda®, the “number one branded atypical antipsychotic”. Aaaaaah! Maybe I should just sit down for a second and figure out what to do next… AAAAH, CAN’T SIT DOWN, VRAYLAR® HAS GOTTEN TO THE BENCHES TOO! Surely there’s a non-Vraylar bench somewhere in this 15,000 person convention center! …whatever, close enough. You know how drug companies pay six or seven figures for thirty-second television ads just on the off chance that someone with the relevant condition might be watching? You know how they employ drug reps to flatter, cajole, and even seduce doctors who might prescribe their drug? Well, it turns out that having 15,000 psychiatrists in one building sparks a drug company feeding frenzy that makes piranhas look sedate by comparison. Every flat surface is covered in drug advertisements.

Keyword: Depression; Schizophrenia
Link ID: 26270 - Posted: 05.28.2019

By Anna Groves | Bipolar patients are seven times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study. Though the news may be disheartening to those suffering from the already-trying condition, the link might also lead to clues about the causes behind the two conditions. Parkinson’s is a complex disease associated with a gradual decline in dopamine levels produced by neurons, or brain cells. It eventually leads to impaired movements and other bodily functions. The causes are unknown, and there is no cure. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is characterized by episodic fluctuations in mood, concentration or energy levels. Its causes are also unknown, though some bipolar-associated genes have been identified. Researchers are still figuring out how brain structure and function changes under the disease. Previous research has linked Parkinson’s with depression. So when the authors of the new study, most of whom are practicing physicians, noticed some of their bipolar patients developing Parkinson’s, they wondered if there was a connection. The study, out today in Neurology, was led by Huang Mao-Hsuan, who practices in the department of psychiatry at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. The researchers compared data from two groups of adults in the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. Members of one group — over 56,000 individuals — were diagnosed with bipolar disorder between 2001 and 2009. The other — 225,000 individuals — had never been diagnosed with the disorder. No one in either cohort had received a Parkinson’s diagnosis and all the patients were over 20. And researchers ensured the two groups had similar ages, socioeconomic status, and other traits that might influence health.

Keyword: Parkinsons; Schizophrenia
Link ID: 26264 - Posted: 05.23.2019

Ed Yong In 1996, a group of European researchers found that a certain gene, called SLC6A4, might influence a person’s risk of depression. It was a blockbuster discovery at the time. The team found that a less active version of the gene was more common among 454 people who had mood disorders than in 570 who did not. In theory, anyone who had this particular gene variant could be at higher risk for depression, and that finding, they said, might help in diagnosing such disorders, assessing suicidal behavior, or even predicting a person’s response to antidepressants. Back then, tools for sequencing DNA weren’t as cheap or powerful as they are today. When researchers wanted to work out which genes might affect a disease or trait, they made educated guesses, and picked likely “candidate genes.” For depression, SLC6A4 seemed like a great candidate: It’s responsible for getting a chemical called serotonin into brain cells, and serotonin had already been linked to mood and depression. Over two decades, this one gene inspired at least 450 research papers. But a new study—the biggest and most comprehensive of its kind yet—shows that this seemingly sturdy mountain of research is actually a house of cards, built on nonexistent foundations. Richard Border of the University of Colorado at Boulder and his colleagues picked the 18 candidate genes that have been most commonly linked to depression—SLC6A4 chief among them. Using data from large groups of volunteers, ranging from 62,000 to 443,000 people, the team checked whether any versions of these genes were more common among people with depression. “We didn’t find a smidge of evidence,” says Matthew Keller, who led the project. (c) 2019 by The Atlantic Monthly Group.

Keyword: Depression; Genes & Behavior
Link ID: 26261 - Posted: 05.22.2019

By Emily Willingham As anyone who’s dealt with substance addiction can tell you, breaking the physical intimacy with the drug isn’t always the most challenging part of treatment. People trying to avoid resurrecting their addiction also must grapple with reminders of it: the sights, sounds and people who were part of their addictive behaviors. These cues can trigger a craving for the drug, creating anxiety that steers them straight back into addiction for relief. The opioid epidemic in the United States has taken more than 300,000 lives, and support for people working to keep these drugs out of their orbit has become crucial. Methadone and buprenorphine, the current medical treatment options, help break the physical craving for opioids by targeting the same pathways that opioids use. Although these drugs can ease physical need, they don’t quiet the anxiety that environmental cues can trigger, leaving open a door to addiction reentry. The cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive component of cannabis, might be the key to keeping that door locked. Researchers report that among people with opioid addiction, CBD dampens cue-triggered cravings and anxiety, along with reducing stress hormone levels and heart rate. The results were published May 21 in the American Journal of Psychiatry. “These findings provide support for an effect of cannabidiol on this process,” says Kathryn McHugh, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, who was not involved in the study. However, she cautions, the results are preliminary, and behavioral therapies are also quite effective at dimming the signal from cues. © 2019 Scientific American

Keyword: Drug Abuse; Depression
Link ID: 26260 - Posted: 05.22.2019

Alison Abbott Pharmacologists gave mescaline a fair trial. In the early and mid-twentieth century, it seemed more than plausible that the fashionable hallucinogen could be tamed into a therapeutic agent. After all, it had profound effects on the human body, and had been used for centuries in parts of the Americas as a gateway to ceremonial spiritual experience. But this psychoactive alkaloid never found its clinical indication, as science writer Mike Jay explains in Mescaline, his anthropological and medical history. In the 1950s, the attention of biomedical researchers abruptly switched to a newly synthesized molecule with similar hallucinogenic properties but fewer physical side effects: lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. First synthesized by Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann in 1938, LSD went on to become a recreational drug of choice in the 1960s hippy era. And, like mescaline, it teased psychiatrists without delivering a cure. Jay traces the chronology of mescaline use. The alkaloid is found in the fast-growing San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) that towers above the mountainous desert scrub of the Andes, and the slow-growing, ground-hugging peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii) native to Mexico and the southwestern United States. Archaeological evidence suggests that the use of these cacti in rites of long-vanished cultures goes back at least 5,000 years. © 2019 Springer Nature Publishing AG

Keyword: Drug Abuse; Depression
Link ID: 26255 - Posted: 05.21.2019

By Neuroskeptic | A paper in PNAS got some attention on Twitter recently. It’s called Childhood trauma history is linked to abnormal brain connectivity in major depression and in it, the authors Yu et al. report finding (as per the Significance Statement) A dramatic primary association of brain resting-state network (RSN) connectivity abnormalities with a history of childhood trauma in major depressive disorder (MDD). The authors go on to note that even though “the brain imaging took place decades after trauma occurrence, the scar of prior trauma was evident in functional dysconnectivity.” Now, I think that this talk of dramatic scarring is overblown, but in this case there’s also a wider issue with the use of a statistical method which easily lends itself to misleading interpretations – canonical correlation analysis (CCA). First, we’ll look at what Yu et al. did. In a sample of 189 unmedicated patients with depression, Yu et al. measured the resting-state functional connectivity of the brain using fMRI. They then analyzed this to give a total of 55 connection strengths for each individual. Each of these 55 measures reflects the functional coupling between two brain networks. For each patient, Yu et al. also administered questionnaires measuring personality, depression and anxiety symptoms, and history of trauma. These measures were then compressed into 4 clinical clusters, (i) anxious misery (ii) positive traits (iii) physical and emotional neglect or abuse, and (iv) sexual abuse.

Keyword: Depression; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 26248 - Posted: 05.20.2019

By LUKE DITTRICH On Valentine’s Day, 2018, five months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Daniel Phillips stood at the edge of a denuded forest on the eastern half of a 38-acre island known as Cayo Santiago, a clipboard in his hand, his eyes on the monkeys. The island sits about a half-mile off the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, near a village called Punta Santiago. Phillips and his co-workers left the mainland shortly after dawn, and the monkeys had already begun to gather by the time they arrived, their screams and oddly birdlike chirps louder than the low rumble of the motorboat that ferried the humans. The monkeys were everywhere. Some were drinking from a large pool of stagnant rainwater; some were grooming each other, nit-picking; some were still gnawing on the plum-size pellets of chow that Phillips hurled into the crowd a half-hour before. Two sat on the naked branch of a tree, sporadically mating. They were all rhesus macaques, a species that grows to a maximum height of about two and a half feet and a weight of about 30 pounds. They have long, flexible tails; dark, expressive eyes; and fur ranging from blond to dark brown. Phillips’s notebook was full of empty tables. There were places for the monkeys’ ID numbers, which were tattooed on their chests and inner thighs, places for a description of their behavior, places for the time of day. There was a place for his own name, too, and he wrote it at the top of each page. Daniel Phillips is not a Puerto Rican name, whatever that means, but he was born here, in a big hospital in Fajardo. He arrived more than a month early and spent his first weeks in an incubator, but grew up to be a high school and college wrestler; as a biology major, he became interested in monkeys, and was invited by a primatologist from Duke University to take a job as a research assistant here on Cayo Santiago.

Keyword: Stress
Link ID: 26238 - Posted: 05.15.2019

By Daniel Barron It’s 3 P.M. on a Saturday in March, and I’m working at Silver Hill Hospital. As the on-duty doctor, my job is to admit new patients and to work with the other staff to make sure that everything goes smoothly. I’m about to see a young patient I’ll call Adrian* I glance in the glass-paned waiting room and notice Adrian sitting on the sofa. Their parents are also in the room (I’m using gender-neutral names pronouns for the patients in this essay, as the author’s note at the bottom explains), standing with concerned looks on their faces. A few minutes later, I meet with Adrian, who turns out to be a pleasant college student. They’ve been feeling anxious and depressed and, in addition to worsening paranoid thoughts, is thinking about suicide. Each patient is uniquely complex. I have never seen two identical patients: even within the same family, even among twins, patients are unique. Each patient’s history and symptoms, brain and genes, hopes and fears differ, which is one reason why psychiatry is so difficult. I need to figure out how to help Adrian. To do this, I need to reduce their complexity into something cognitively manageable, into something I can understand. The way I (and all clinicians) do this is to look for patterns: common symptoms and trends that help me understand what’s going on and suggest a type of treatment. © 2019 Scientific American

Keyword: Depression; Schizophrenia
Link ID: 26220 - Posted: 05.09.2019

By Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi In 1945, Dorothy Still, a nurse in the United States Navy, met with a Navy psychiatrist to discuss disturbing symptoms she had been experiencing. Miss Still was one of 12 Navy nurses who had been held prisoner of war by the Japanese military in the occupied Philippines during World War II. For more than three years, Miss Still and the other nurses had provided care to diseased, starving and destitute civilian inmates in a makeshift infirmary at the P.O.W. camp. In the months after liberation, Miss Still found she often cried without provocation and had trouble stopping her tears. She most likely suffered from what today we could call post-traumatic stress disorder, but the Navy psychiatrist offered no support or solutions. Instead, he called her a “fake” and a “liar.” Nurses, he claimed could not suffer the kind of shell shock from war that sailors or soldiers could. Mental health experts now recognize that PTSD can indeed affect nurses, both military and civilian. As many as 28 percent of nurses experience PTSD at some point in their careers, said Meredith Mealer, an associate professor at the Anschutz Medical Campus at the University of Colorado, Denver, though health care providers still often struggle to treat it. “It’s probably improved from Dorothy’s experience, but we still have a ways to go,” Dr. Meal. PTSD, as defined by the DSM-5, the psychiatric professions’ official manual of mental health disorders, can arise after a person has been exposed to a traumatic event, typically involving or threatening death, injury or sexual violence. Someone might experience the trauma first-hand or witness it happening to someone else, learn it happened to a loved one or repeatedly hear details about a violent event. The result can be intrusive symptoms such as unwanted memories, nightmares, flashbacks and overwhelming feelings of stress when exposed to reminders of the event. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Stress
Link ID: 26213 - Posted: 05.07.2019

Hattie Garlick Rosie has just returned from the school run. She drops a bag of groceries on to her kitchen table, and reaches for a clear plastic cup, covered by a white hanky and sealed with a hairband. Inside is a grey powder; her finely ground homegrown magic mushrooms. “I’ll take a very small dose, every three or four days,” she says, weighing out a thumbnail of powder on digital jewellery scales, purchased for their precision. “People take well over a gram recreationally. I weigh out about 0.12g and then just swallow it, like any food. It gives me an alertness, an assurance. I move from a place of anxiety to a normal state of confidence, not overconfidence.” Over the last 12 months, I have been hearing the same story from a small but increasing number of women. At parties and even at the school gates, they have told me about a new secret weapon that is boosting their productivity at work, improving their parenting and enhancing their relationships. Not clean-eating or mindfulness but microdosing – taking doses of psychedelic drugs so tiny they are considered to be “subperceptual”. In other words, says Rosie: “You don’t feel high, just… better.” It’s a trend that first emerged in San Francisco less than a decade ago. Unlike the hippies who flocked to the city in the 60s, these new evangelists of psychedelic drugs were not seeking oblivion. Quite the opposite. While a “full” tripping dose of LSD is about 100 micrograms, online forums began to buzz with ambitious tech workers from Silicon Valley eulogising the effect of taking 10 to 20 micrograms every few days. Others used magic mushrooms. While both drugs are illegal in the US and the UK, increasing numbers claimed that tiny amounts were making them more focused, creative and productive. © 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 26210 - Posted: 05.04.2019

By Benedict Carey Ever since its premiere, on March 31, 2017, the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” about a teenage girl’s suicide, has alarmed many health experts, who believe it glamorizes the topic for some young people. The show also has impressed critics, along with viewers young and old, who see it as an honest portrayal of adolescent distress. Now, a new study finds that suicide rates spiked in the month after the release of the series among boys aged 10 to 17. That month, April 2017, had the highest overall suicide rate for this age group in the past five years, the study found; the rate subsequently dropped back into line with recent trends, but remained elevated for the year. Suicide rates for girls aged 10 to 17 — the demographic expected to identify most strongly with the show’s protagonist — did not increase significantly. The study, posted Monday by the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is likely to fuel further debate about the merits of “13 Reasons Why,” the third season of which is in production. “Suicide is a problem worldwide, and it’s so hard to knock these rates down,” said Lisa M. Horowitz, a staff scientist in the National Institute of Mental Health’s Intramural Research Program, and an author of the paper. “The last thing we need is something that increases them.” In a statement, a Netflix spokesperson said: “We’ve just seen this study and are looking into the research, which conflicts with last week’s study from the University of Pennsylvania,” which focused on young adults. “This is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly.” © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Depression; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 26186 - Posted: 04.30.2019