Chapter 16. Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to our mailing list, to receive news updates. Learn more.


Links 41 - 60 of 2591

By Madhumita Murgia CINCINNATI — Just before Christmas 2015, child psychiatrist Daniel Nelson noticed an unusual number of suicidal kids in the hospital emergency room. A 14-year-old girl with a parent addicted to opioids tried to choke herself with a seat belt. A 12-year-old transgender child hurt himself after being bullied. And a steady stream of kids arrived from the city’s west side, telling him they knew other kids — at school, in their neighborhoods — who had also tried to die. “I think there’s an increase in suicidal kids in Cincinnati,” Nelson told a colleague. “We need to start mapping this out.” So Nelson and his colleagues collected the addresses of 300 children admitted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with suicidal behavior over three months in early 2016, looking for patterns. Almost instantly, a disturbing one emerged: Price Hill, a poor community with a high rate of opioid overdoses, was home to a startling number of suicidal kids. “This is who is dying from opiates — people in their 20s and 30s. Think about what that population is,” Nelson said. “It’s parents.” Nelson says there may be a connection between the opioid epidemic and the increased risk of suicide in teenagers and children. (Luke Sharrett for The Washington Post) Now Nelson is working with county coroners across the nation to try to corroborate his theory, that trauma from the nation’s opioid epidemic could help explain an extraordinary increase in suicide among American children. Since 2007, the rate of suicide has doubled among children 10 to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death between the ages of 10 and 24. The suicide rate among older teenage girls hit a 40-year high in 2015, according to newly released data from the National Center for Health Statistics. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 23985 - Posted: 08.23.2017

By Bianca Datta Hallucinations are often distressing—a suggestion that something is amiss in our brains. But new research suggests we’re all susceptible to hallucinations, and that may not be such a bad thing. In a paper released last week in Science, a team from Yale University set out to understand how we interpret the world around us—in short, how we determine what’s real and what’s not. They suspected that people who regularly hallucinate perceive the world based on what they expect to happen, while others, who don’t hallucinate, would rely more what their senses are telling them is happening in the world. Even healthy participants experienced conditioned hallucinations. The mechanism that causes auditory hallucinations is related to those used in normal perception. To determine that, authors Phil Corlett and Al Powers began by conditioning participants to hear a tone when they were shown a checkerboard pattern. Then they slowly removed the actual sound and asked people when they heard it. Participants who regularly heard voices were five times more likely to say they heard a tone when there wasn’t one, and they were 25-30% more confident in their choice. But they weren’t alone in hearing things. In fact, all of the participants experienced some induced hallucinations during the experiment. “I did not expect that people who did not have a psychotic illness would perform so similarly to people who did hear voices,” Powers says. “They were very, very alike.” © 1996-2017 WGBH Educational Foundation

Keyword: Schizophrenia; Hearing
Link ID: 23981 - Posted: 08.22.2017

Marci O'Connor, a mother of two teenagers, struggles with her confident, independent self and recurring loneliness — feelings that psychologists say are increasingly posing public health challenges. O'Connor, 46, of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, 30 kilometres east of Montreal, said loneliness snuck up on her after she moved away from her family to a predominantly French-speaking area. She now works from home. O'Connor lost the camaraderie of her community of stay-at-home moms as her children, now 15 and 17, grew and families' circumstances changed. "I found that I constantly check in with myself and my motives for doing things," O'Connor said. "If I go hiking alone, is it to avoid other people or is that the day I really want to be on my own?" Taken too far, a sense of independence and self-sufficiency can be a detriment. Psychologists say it's important to recognize loneliness and prioritize the meaningful relationships we all need. Demographics are another challenge. Earlier this month, Statistics Canada released new information from the 2016 census suggesting a record number of households, 28.2 per cent, have only one person living in them. In an upcoming issue of American Psychologist, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, says social connection should be a public health priority. Holt-Lunstad says social connection is associated with a 50 per cent reduced risk of early death, and loneliness exacts a grave toll. ©2017 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 23968 - Posted: 08.17.2017

By Katie Moritz If you’re like a lot of people all over the world, you have a hard time sleeping. Maybe you’ve tried apps that promote sleep, or going without electronics for the hours leading up to bedtime, or supplements like melatonin or magnesium. But have you tried thinking differently about your waking life? Research suggests that having a purpose in life leads to a better night’s sleep. Picture in your mind your biggest interests and your loftiest goals. Pursuing those could help you get better shut-eye. A research team at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine looked at the sleep habits of more than 800 older adults—though they said the results are likely applicable to everyone—and found that the ones who reported having a purpose in life have fewer sleep disturbances like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome and sleep better over a long period. Purpose pbs rewire“Helping people cultivate a purpose in life could be an effective drug-free strategy to improve sleep quality, particularly for a population that is facing more insomnia,” said Jason Ong, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor of neurology at the Feinberg School of Medicine, to the university. “Purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and enhanced through mindfulness therapies.” In the Northwestern study, the people who felt their lives had meaning were 63 percent less likely to have sleep apnea, 52 percent less likely to have restless leg syndrome and had better sleep quality. Poor sleep quality is defined by having trouble falling and staying asleep and feeling tired during the day.

Keyword: Sleep; Depression
Link ID: 23967 - Posted: 08.17.2017

By Knvul Sheikh At his psychiatric clinic in the Connecticut Mental Health Center, Albert Powers sees people every day who experience hallucinations. The condition is often a hallmark of psychosis, occurring in an estimated 60 to 70 percent of people with schizophrenia, and in a subset of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, dementia and major depression. Auditory hallucinations are the most common type experienced. Some patients report hearing voices; others hear phantom melodies. But increasing evidence over the past two decades suggests hearing imaginary sounds is not always a sign of mental illness. Healthy people also experience hallucinations. Drugs, sleep deprivation and migraines can often trigger the illusion of sounds or sights that are not there. Even in the absence of these predisposing factors, approximately one in 20 people hear voices or see visual hallucinations at least once in their lifetimes, according to mental health surveys conducted by the World Health Organization. Whereas most researchers have focused on the brain abnormalities that occur in people suffering at an extreme end of this spectrum, Powers and his colleagues have turned their attention to milder cases in a new study. “We wanted to understand what’s common and what’s protecting people who hallucinate but who don’t require psychological intervention,” he says. Normally when the brain receives sensory information, such as sound, it actively works to fill in information to make sense of what it hears—its location, volume and other details. “The brain is a predictive machine,” explains Anissa Abi-Dargham, a psychiatrist at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the new work. “It is constantly scanning the environment and relying on previous knowledge to fill in the gaps [in] what we perceive.” Because our expectations are usually accurate, the system generally works well. For example, we are able to hear the sound of running water or the murmur of a friend talking across the room and then react in an instant, Abi-Dargham says. © 2017 Scientific American,

Keyword: Schizophrenia; Hearing
Link ID: 23950 - Posted: 08.11.2017

By NIRAJ CHOKSHI The photos you share online speak volumes. They can serve as a form of self-expression or a record of travel. They can reflect your style and your quirks. But they might convey even more than you realize: The photos you share may hold clues to your mental health, new research suggests. From the colors and faces in their photos to the enhancements they make before posting them, Instagram users with a history of depression seem to present the world differently from their peers, according to the study, published this week in the journal EPJ Data Science. “People in our sample who were depressed tended to post photos that, on a pixel-by-pixel basis, were bluer, darker and grayer on average than healthy people,” said Andrew Reece, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University and co-author of the study with Christopher Danforth, a professor at the University of Vermont. The pair identified participants as “depressed” or “healthy” based on whether they reported having received a clinical diagnosis of depression in the past. They then used machine-learning tools to find patterns in the photos and to create a model predicting depression by the posts. They found that depressed participants used fewer Instagram filters, those which allow users to digitally alter a photo’s brightness and coloring before it is posted. When these users did add a filter, they tended to choose “Inkwell,” which drains a photo of its color, making it black-and-white. The healthier users tended to prefer “Valencia,” which lightens a photo’s tint. Depressed participants were more likely to post photos containing a face. But when healthier participants did post photos with faces, theirs tended to feature more of them, on average. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 23948 - Posted: 08.11.2017

By Helen Thomson People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may get relief simply from watching someone else perform their compulsive actions. If the finding holds up, we may be able to develop apps that help people with OCD stop needing to repeatedly wash their hands or pull their hair. When we watch someone else perform an action, the same parts of our brains become active as when we do the action ourselves. This is called the mirror neuron system, and it is thought to help us understand the actions and feelings of others. Baland Jalal at the University of Cambridge wondered whether this system could be used to help people with OCD. Working with his colleague Vilayanur Ramachandran, at the University of California, San Diego, he studied 10 people with OCD symptoms, who experience disgust when touching things they consider even mildly contaminated. The anxiety this causes forces them to wash their hands compulsively. First, Jalal and Ramachandran showed each participant something to make them feel disgusted – either an open bag of vomit, a bowl containing blood-soaked bandages or a bedpan of faeces and toilet paper. The participants were unaware that each stimulus was in fact fake. In a variety of conditions, either the participant or a researcher touched the bag, bowl or bedpan for 15 seconds while wearing latex gloves. The participants were then asked to rate how disgusted they felt, before being allowed to wash their hands, or watch the researcher do the same. They then rated how relieved they now felt. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Link ID: 23927 - Posted: 08.08.2017

Jean M. Twenge One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.” Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.” Copyright (c) 2017 by The Atlantic Monthly Group.

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 23925 - Posted: 08.08.2017

By Francine Russo Survivors of sexual assault who come forward often confront doubt on the part of others. Did you fight back? they are asked. Did you scream? Just as painful for them, if not more so, can be a sense of guilt and shame. Why did I not resist? they may ask themselves. Is it my fault? And to make matters worse, although the laws are in flux in various jurisdictions, active resistance can be seen as necessary for a legal or even “common sense” definition of rape. Unless it is clearly too dangerous, as when the rapist is armed, resisting is generally thought to be the “normal” reaction to sexual assault. But new research adds to the evidence debunking this common belief. According to a recent study, a majority of female rape survivors who visited the Emergency Clinic for Rape Victims in Stockholm reported they did not fight back. Many also did not yell for help. During the assault they experienced a kind of temporary paralysis called tonic immobility. And those who experienced extreme tonic immobility were twice as likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and three times more likely to suffer severe depression in the months after the attack than women who did not have this response. Tonic immobility (TI) describes a state of involuntary paralysis in which individuals cannot move or, in many cases, even speak. In animals this reaction is considered an evolutionary adaptive defense to an attack by a predator when other forms of defense are not possible. Much less is known about this phenomenon in humans, although it has been observed in soldiers in battle as well as in survivors of sexual assault. A study from 2005, for example, found 52 percent of female undergraduates who reported childhood sexual abuse said they experienced this paralysis. © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Stress
Link ID: 23916 - Posted: 08.05.2017

By Giorgia Guglielmi After a 5-month road trip across Asia in 2010, 22-year-old college graduate Matthew Lazell-Fairman started feeling constantly tired, his muscles sore and head aching. A doctor recommended getting a gym membership, but after the first training session, Lazell-Fairman’s body crashed: He was so exhausted he couldn’t go to work as a paralegal for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., for days. Lazell-Fairman has never fully recovered. He can now do a few hours of light activity—cooking, for example—per day but has to spend the rest of his time lying flat in bed. Lazell-Fairman is among the estimated 17 million people worldwide with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a disease whose trigger is unknown and for which there are neither standard diagnostic tools nor effective treatments. In the largest study of its kind, researchers have now found that the blood levels of immune molecules that cause flulike symptoms such as fever and fatigue track the severity of symptoms in people who have received a diagnosis of CFS. The results may provide insight into the cause of the mysterious illness, or at least provide a way of gauging its progress and evaluating treatments. “This work is another strong piece of evidence that there is a biologic dysfunction at the root of the disease,” says Mady Hornig, a physician scientist at Columbia University whose research has also identified potential biomarkers for CFS. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Keyword: Depression; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 23902 - Posted: 08.01.2017

Sarah Boseley Health editor Men who consume a lot of added sugar in drinks, cakes and confectionery run an increased risk of depression, according to a new study. Researchers from University College London (UCL) looked at sugar in the diet and common mental health problems in a very large cohort of 5,000 men and 2,000 women recruited for the Whitehall II study in the 1980s. Sugar tax must apply to sweets as well as drinks, say campaigners Read more They found a strong association between consuming higher levels of sugar and depression in men. Men with the highest intake – more than 67g a day – had a 23% increased chance of suffering a common mental disorder after five years than those who consumed the lowest levels of sugar – less than 39.5g. The researchers investigated whether men might be eating more sugary foods because they were depressed, but found that was not the case. Lead author Anika Knüppel, of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health, said: “High sugar diets have a number of influences on our health but our study shows that there might also be a link between sugar and mood disorders, particularly among men. There are numerous factors that influence chances for mood disorders, but having a diet high in sugary foods and drinks might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Depression; Obesity
Link ID: 23890 - Posted: 07.28.2017

By BENEDICT CAREY LONDON — England is in the midst of a unique national experiment, the world’s most ambitious effort to treat depression, anxiety and other common mental illnesses. The rapidly growing initiative, which has gotten little publicity outside the country, offers virtually open-ended talk therapy free of charge at clinics throughout the country: in remote farming villages, industrial suburbs, isolated immigrant communities and high-end enclaves. The goal is to eventually create a system of primary care for mental health not just for England but for all of Britain. At a time when many nations are debating large-scale reforms to mental health care, researchers and policy makers are looking hard at England’s experience, sizing up both its popularity and its limitations. Mental health care systems vary widely across the Western world, but none have gone nearly so far to provide open-ended access to talk therapies backed by hard evidence. Experts say the English program is the first broad real-world test of treatments that have been studied mostly in carefully controlled lab conditions. The demand in the first several years has been so strong it has strained the program’s resources. According to the latest figures, the program now screens nearly a million people a year, and the number of adults in England who have recently received some mental health treatment has jumped to one in three from one in four and is expected to continue to grow. Mental health professionals also say the program has gone a long way to shrink the stigma of psychotherapy in a nation culturally steeped in stoicism. “You now actually hear young people say, ‘I might go and get some therapy for this,’” said Dr. Tim Kendall, the clinical director for mental health for the National Health Service. “You’d never, ever hear people in this country say that out in public before.” A recent widely shared video of three popular royals — Prince William, Prince Harry and Kate, Dutchess of Cambridge — discussing the importance of mental health care and the princes’ struggles after their mother’s death is another sign of the country’s growing openness about treatment. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 23876 - Posted: 07.25.2017

/ By Ed Cara Ariella Cohen had already made nearly a dozen visits in as many months to a Philadelphia emergency room when, in the winter of 2014, she once again grabbed her pre-packed overnight bag and rushed to the hospital with crippling intestinal pain. She didn’t have high expectations: At just 26, she and her family had seen close to 100 doctors and amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills attempting to identify and treat the source of her pain, and she arrived with a long-ago memorized script of the many diagnoses she had received since her childhood. As she sat on a gurney, Cohen recalls calmly explaining her situation to the attending physician. Like so many times before, her body was in mutiny: The assembly line of muscles along her gut had frozen, and she had been constipated for months, with the resulting pain sometimes scorching her insides. That day it had become so horrendous that she collapsed, prompting two of her regular doctors, fearing that the stoppage might tear a hole in her lower intestine, to advise she go to the ER immediately. According to Cohen, the ER physician that day simply dismissed her symptoms without an examination. If anything was wrong, he implied, it was mental, not physical, and he refused to admit her. Later that winter, during a raging snowstorm, her agony came again, but despite calling ahead to the ER and being told she could see another physician, the same doctor came around again as she was being examined and told her to go home. Copyright 2017 Undark

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 23875 - Posted: 07.25.2017

By Daisy Yuhas, When the shy, dark-haired boy met with clinicians for a full psychiatric evaluation two years ago, almost everything about him pointed to autism. W. had not spoken his first words until age 2. He was at least 4 before he could form sentences. As he got older, he was unable to make friends. He struggled to accept changes to his routine and maintain eye contact. And despite having an average intelligence quotient, he was unusually attached to objects; at age 11, he still lugged a bag of stuffed animals with him everywhere he went. But something else was clearly at work, too. “He had these things that he would call day dreams,” recalls Jennifer Foss-Feig, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. When she evaluated W., she noticed that he would often gaze into an empty corner of the room—particularly when he seemed to suspect that she wasn’t paying attention to him. (For privacy reasons, Foss-Feig declined to reveal anything but the child’s first initial.) Occasionally, he would speak to that space, as though someone else were there. His parents, she recalls, were worried. They explained to Foss-Feig that their son had what he called an “imaginary family.” But W.’s invisible playmates weren’t of the usual harmless variety that many children have; they seemed to be a dangerous distraction both at home and at school. On one occasion, he wandered through a busy parking lot, seemingly oblivious to the oncoming traffic. © 2017 Scientific America

Keyword: Autism; Schizophrenia
Link ID: 23874 - Posted: 07.25.2017

By Sharon Begley, STAT Lab mice whose brains were injected with cells from schizophrenia patients became afraid of strangers, slept fitfully, felt intense anxiety, struggled to remember new things, and showed other signs of the mental disorder, scientists reported on Thursday. The latest advance in “chimeras,” animals created by transplanting cells from one species into another, demonstrated the value of the technique, scientists not involved in the study said, but is likely to draw renewed attention to a controversial field that opponents see as deeply immoral and undermining the natural order. Under a 2015 moratorium, the National Institutes of Health does not fund research that transplants human stem cells into early embryos of other animals. When the NIH asked for public comment on lifting the moratorium, it received nearly 20,000 responses, almost all objecting to “grossly unethical research”; many mentioned Frankenstein. But the new study, in Cell Stem Cell, injected human cells into newborn mice, not embryos. It received funding from the NIH as well as private foundations, to unravel how brain development goes off the rails to cause schizophrenia. Although the prevailing idea has been that the devastating disease, which strikes some 1 percent of U.S. adults, is primarily caused by something going wrong with neurons, the scientists suspected the brain’s support cells, called glia. © 2017 Scientific American,

Keyword: Schizophrenia; Glia
Link ID: 23863 - Posted: 07.22.2017

By Jack Turban Fourteen-year-old Nicole, whose name I changed for her privacy, told her mother every day for years that she wanted to end her own life. Between suicide attempts were more psychiatric hospital visits than she or her mother could count. She refused to get out of bed, shower, or go to school, missing sixty school days in a single year. In one visit with her therapist, she admitted to praying every night that she would not wake up the next morning. After countless psychiatrists and psychotherapists were unable to improve her depression, her mother converted a bathroom cabinet into a locked safe, containing all of the sharp objects and pills in the house. Her parents were certain it was only a matter of time until Nicole killed herself. Today, a now seventeen-year-old Nicole greets me with a big smile. Her blonde hair is pulled back into a ponytail to reveal her bright blue eyes. She tells me she hasn’t missed a day of school and is preparing for college. Blushing, she lets me know that her first date is coming up, a prom date to be precise. For the first time in years, she is happy and wants to live. What happened to cause this dramatic change? In December, Nicole started infusions of a psychedelic drug called ketamine. Though she had failed to respond to endless medication trials for her depression (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, mirtazapine, topiramate, antipsychotics, and lithium to name just a few), ketamine cleared her depression within hours. The effect lasts about two weeks before she needs a new infusion. © 2017 Scientific America

Keyword: Depression; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 23850 - Posted: 07.19.2017

By Aaron Reuben, Jonathan Schaefer Most of us know at least one person who has struggled with a bout of debilitating mental illness. Despite their familiarity, however, these kinds of episodes are typically considered unusual, and even shameful. New research, from our lab and from others around the world, however, suggests mental illnesses are so common that almost everyone will develop at least one diagnosable mental disorder at some point in their lives. Most of these people will never receive treatment, and their relationships, job performance and life satisfaction will likely suffer. Meanwhile the few individuals who never seem to develop a disorder may offer psychology a new avenue of study, allowing researchers to ask what it takes to be abnormally, enduringly, mentally well. Epidemiologists have long known that, at any given point in time, roughly 20 to 25 percent of the population suffers from a mental illness, which means they experience psychological distress severe enough to impair functioning at work, school or in their relationships. Extensive national surveys, conducted from the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, suggested that a much higher percentage, close to half the population, would experience a mental illness at some point in their lives. These surveys were large, involving thousands of participants representative of the U.S. in age, sex, social class and ethnicity. They were also, however, retrospective, which means they relied on survey respondents’ accurate recollection of feelings and behaviors months, years and even decades in the past. Human memory is fallible, and modern science has demonstrated that people are notoriously inconsistent reporters about their own mental health history, leaving the final accuracy of these studies up for debate. Of further concern, up to a third of the people contacted by the national surveys failed to enroll in the studies. Follow-up tests suggested that these “nonresponders” tended to have worse mental health. © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Schizophrenia; Depression
Link ID: 23837 - Posted: 07.14.2017

Dean Burnett Antidepressants; the go-to treatment for depression, or generalised anxiety. It’s incredible when you think about it, the fact that you can have a debilitating mood disorder, take a few pills, and feel better. It’s unbelievable that medical science has progressed so far that we now fully understand how the human brain produces moods and other emotions, so can manipulate them with designer drugs. That’s right, it is unbelievable. Because it isn’t the case. The fact that antidepressants are now so common is something of a mixed blessing. On one hand, anything that helps reduce stigma and lets those afflicted know they aren’t alone can only be helpful. Depression is incredibly common, so this awareness can literally save many lives. On the other hand, familiarity does not automatically mean understanding. Nearly everyone has a smartphone these days, but how many people, if pushed, could construct a touchscreen? Not many, I’d wager. And so it is with depression and antidepressants. For all the coverage and opinion pieces produced about them, the details around how they work remain somewhat murky and elusive. Actually, in the case of antidepressants, it’s more a question of why they work, rather than how. Most antidepressants, from the earliest Trycyclics and Monamine Oxidase inhibitors, to the ubiquitous modern day selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), work by increasing the levels of specific neurotransmitters in the brain, usually by preventing them from being broken down and reabsorbed into the neurons, meaning they linger in the synapses longer, causing more activity, so “compensating” for the reduced overall levels. Antidepressants make the remaining neurotransmitters work twice as hard, so overall activity is more “normal”, so to speak. © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 23822 - Posted: 07.11.2017

Deborah Orr Most people know about SSRIs, the antidepressant drugs that stop the brain from re-absorbing too much of the serotonin we produce, to regulate mood, anxiety and happiness. And a lot of people know about these drugs first hand, for the simple reason that they have used them. Last year, according to NHS Digital, no fewer than 64.7m antidepressant prescriptions were given in England alone. In a decade, the number of prescriptions has doubled. On Tuesday I joined the throng, and popped my first Citalopram. It was quite a thing – not least because, like an idiot, I dropped my pill about 90 minutes before curtain up for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Tempest at the Barbican. That’s right. This isn’t just mental illness: this is metropolitan-elite mental illness. It was a pretty overwhelming theatrical experience. The first indication that something was up came as I approached my local tube station. I noticed that I was in a state of extreme dissociation, walking along looking as though I was entirely present in the world yet feeling completely detached from it. I had drifted into total mental autopilot. Luckily, I was able to recognise my fugue. It’s a symptom of my condition, which, as I’ve written before, is complex post-traumatic stress disorder. The drug-induced dissociation was more intense than I’m used to when it’s happening naturally. I use the word advisedly. Much of what is thought of as illness is actually an extreme and sensible protective reaction to unbearable interventions from outside the self. © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Depression; Attention
Link ID: 23818 - Posted: 07.09.2017

By Clare Wilson A patient-led movement is helping people taking psychiatric medicines to hack their dosing regimens so they can wean themselves off the drugs without any side effects. Now a Dutch website that sells kits to help people do this is about to launch an English-language site, triggering safety concerns among UK regulators and doctors. Some people find it impossible to stop taking certain antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines such as valium because, unless the dose is reduced very gradually, they get severe mental and physical side-effects. The problem is these medicines aren’t sold in small enough tablets to allow for tapering. This has prompted some people to flout mainstream medical advice and use DIY methods for reducing their doses, such as grinding up tablets and dissolving them in water, or breaking open capsules of tiny beads and counting them out. The UK mental health charity Mind advises people who want to stop taking antidepressants of some techniques to try, but recommends they get advice from their doctor or pharmacist first. To help people taper their dose more easily, a Dutch medical charity, called Cinderella Therapeutics, creates personalised “tapering kits”, with precisely weighed out tablets in labelled packets that gradually reduce over several months. The website recommends people do this under medical supervision and must first receive a doctor’s prescription. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 23817 - Posted: 07.09.2017