Antidepressants Feed

Longing for the "Good Old Days" in Mental Health

Stanton Peele has written an amazing article, "Nervous Breakdown: Remember When People Used to Overcome Mental Illness?"  His point?  Our treatment of mental illness may have been better in the past, before modern psychiatry and Big Pharma.  

Granted, our treatment of mental illness in the past included lobotomies and Thorazine.  Still, Peele makes an interesting point - that people do have some ability to recoup from a "nervous breakdown" if given the time and support.  Putting people on medications for the rest of their lives may be a benefit for the pharmaceutical companies and the psychiatrists paid to administer and monitor these medications, but are they the panacea they promise?  And what is the cost?  The antipsychotics, in particular, are heavy duty tranquilizers which numb a person's emotions and dull their thoughts.  The chances of a person returning to a fully functioning life on these medications is slim.  What if clients were provided more support and therapy instead of making medication the first line of treatment?

It's an interesting read.

 

 

 


The Drugging of Abused Children

Foster children, traumatized by abuse and/or neglect, are frequently prescribed psychiatric medications at a much higher rate and at much higher doses than children in the general population.  But psychiatric medication is not the treatment for trauma, psychotherapy is.  

As these children grow up and age out of the foster care system, what will they have to say about their psychiatric treatment and the medications they were given?   

Documentary film makers Karen De Sa and Dai Sugano asked that very question in their film, "Drugging Our Kids".   The documentary examines the over-prescribing of psychiatric medications for children in California's foster care system.  The issues discussed in this film are not isolated to California.  Texas, the state in which I practice, has one of the highest rates of psychiatric medication prescribed for children in foster care.  This is a problem across the United States.   

The film examines the practice of using psychiatric medications as a chemical straight jacket to tranquilize problem behaviors.  I have seen the very long lists of medications prescribed to these children, as well as, the long lists of diagnoses that are given to them.  Rarely do these diagnoses contain Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  For children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect you would expect PTSD to be the primary diagnosis.  However, I more frequently saw;  ADHD, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, oppositional behavior disorder, depression and anxiety disorders.  Rarely is consideration given that the behavior these children are exhibiting is most a result of the violence and neglect they have experienced.  They are simply labeled as behavior problems and medicated.  


Antidepressants May Cause Depression?

There's an interesting article on the CNCNews website discussing the lack of scientific research behind the chemical imbalance model for explaining depression.  

“And as early as 1998, the American Psychiatric Association in its textbook says we’re not finding that people with depression have any abnormality in their serotonin, but because it’s such an effective metaphor for getting people to take the drugs and sell the drugs, it’s continued to be promoted.”

Not only are antidepressants not effective, but taking them may actually exacerbate symptoms of depression...

"while people suffering from depression may not have low serotonin levels to begin with, the use of SSRIs reduces the brain’s capacity to produce serotonin on its own, leading to a worsening of symptoms when patients stop taking the drugs."

An interesting read indeed.

 

 

 


Learned Helplessness and Depression

While working with a depression support group it became apparent that many of the clients struggled with very negative ways of thinking about things and very negative ways of viewing the world.  This was interesting to me, because I battled depression myself for years.  I spent many years taking antidepressants without a significant relief from symptoms.  I eventually decided to stop and pay attention to the negative thinking in my own head.  As I researched it, I found it had a name:  Learned Helplessness.  

Learned helplessness is a concept developed by the psychologist, Martin Seligman.  Seligman worked with dogs who were exposed to electrical shocks.  Dogs who were allowed to push a button with their nose to stop the shocks learned to act to stop the shocks.  Dogs who were unable to escape the shocks learned to do nothing and wait for it to abate.  They gave up.  The conditioning taught the latter group they were unable to help themselves. 

This same behavior can be seen in some children and adults who endured traumatic childhoods.  Children who grow up in households where the parents' behavior is erratic and harmful will eventually stop trying to figure out a coping mechanism and just hunker down and endure the violence.  Imagine a child with a parent who is struggling with drug addiction.  Sometimes mom is unconscious, sometimes violent, sometimes pleasant.  The child never knows what they are going to get.  And the mother's behavior with the child is heavily influenced by the drugs, not the child.  What kind of behavior the mother displays depends on whether she; has drugs, is running out of drugs or is unable to get more drugs.  None of this is in the child's control.  And nothing the child tries to do to get the care they need from the mother will work if the mother is high from using drugs or raging because she can't find money to buy drugs.  So the child learns not to try to change their mother's behavior, because their efforts are futile.  Some of these children will space out or dissociate.  Some, like Seligman's dogs, will hunker down in the house and just endure the mother's abuse.  They learn they are helpless.  They learn not to try to change anything.

As adults they often adopt the same coping behavior.  They believe life is to be endured and feel they have no ability to act to change things.  Life is an endurance test, a series of mishaps that must be endured.  They can have a "Chicken Little" type of mentality, constantly feeling, "The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!"  These folks often view themselves as too helpless, too incompetent or too depressed to change the events in their life.  This creates a way of behaving and thinking that will result in pessimism and depression.  If this is the problem, medications will have little effect.  The problem is learned behavior, not biochemical. 

Finding that medications will not help can be disheartening.  But it can also be empowering.  A learned behavior can be unlearned.  The trick is to determine what the thinking is and learn how to think like a happier person does.

Seligman also studied naturally happy people and found the opposite of learned helplessness was learned optimism.  Seligman studied the differences between people who were basically pessimistic and people who were naturally optimistic and found three primary differences in their thinking patterns:  permanence, pervasiveness and personalization.  In a nutshell, optimistic people look at a failure as "I may have been thwarted at this goal (not their entire life), but it's a temporary setback (not a permanent failure) and it was just bad luck (nothing to do with them personally)".  

 

Learned Helplessness/PessimismLearned Optimism
Permanence

Believe bad events are permanent

Believe good events are temporary

Believe bad events are temporary

Believe good events are permanent

Pervasiveness

Failure in one area means is interpreted as meaning they are a failure in their entire life or as a person in general.

Success, or happiness, in one area does not spill over into other areas.

Failure in one area does not mean they are a failure as a person or a failure in their life.  

Conversely, happiness in one arena may brighten all other areas.  

Personalization

Blame themselves for bad events.

Attribute good events to external factors, i.e. "luck".

Take credit for good events.  

Blame bad events on external factors.

 Some people would say the optimist's outlook is not entirely realistic, and they would be right.  Research has shown that people struggling with depression more accurately assess the outcomes of events than people who are more optimist.   Happier people tend to incorrectly assume that things will be all right when they won't.

In the end, happiness may be the result of a little bit of self delusion.  But does that make it bad?

Thoughts?

 


Generation RX - The Effects of Capitalism on the Practice of Medicine

"To call normal children diseased, abnormal, chemically imbalanced.  To make patients out of them for profit.  This is not only anti-scientific, it is contrary to our Hippocratic oath.  It is immoral, and it should be exposed and stopped."

Dr. Fred A. Baughman, MD
Neurologist and Author
As quoted from the movie, "Generation RX"

Continue reading "Generation RX - The Effects of Capitalism on the Practice of Medicine" »


Forest Pharmaceuticals Pleads Guilty to Illegal Promotion of Celexa, False Claims about Lexapro and Celexa

The Department of Justice has issued a press release regarding criminal charges against the pharmaceutical company responsible for the manufacture of Lexapro and Celexa.

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Psychiatric Medications as a "Crutch"

Throughout the years I have worked with several clients who were criticized or rebuked by family members or Alcoholics Anonymous sponsors for using psychiatric medications as a "crutch".  Yes.... and?

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Alcoholics Anonymous and Psychiatric Medications

Throughout the years I've agonized when working with dual diagnosis clients who attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or any of their sister programs.  Too often there are well-meaning people in the groups who take it upon themselves to give psychological or medical advice.  All too often, this results in tremendous damage.   One of the major offenders is the idea that any member of AA, CA or NA who is taking psychiatric medications is not "clean and sober".  Not only is this bad advice it's not the official policy of AA.

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