Antipsychotic Drugs And Obesity In Children

Drug companies and some psychiatrists are at pains to sell this nation on the notion of childhood mental illness. The treatment of mental illness, according to these folks, involves a regimen of powerful psychiatric drugs. The problem with this treatment is that it has often proven more damaging than the illness it was supposed to treat. The most recent manifestation of the evidense for this damage comes from a study showing excessive weight gain in children and adolescents.

As reported earlier this month in a New York Times story, Weight Gain Associated With Antipsychotic Drugs:

Young children and adolescents who take the newest generation of antipsychotic medications risk rapid weight gain and metabolic changes that could lead to diabetes, hypertension and other illnesses, according to the biggest study yet of first-time users of the drugs.

The study, to be published Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 257 young children and adolescents in New York City and on Long Island added 8 to 15 percent to their weight after taking the pills for less than 12 weeks.

The patients, ages 4 to 19, added an average of one to one-and-a-half pounds a week.

A parent is better off managing a child thought to be psychotic without the use these drugs than that same parent would be risking the metabolic changes, any one of which could cut short a life, that come of the use of drugs that increase weight so dramatically. Focusing on diet and exercise is ignoring the real culprit in these cases.

Their mean weight at the start of the study period was 118 pounds. But after about 11 weeks, those who took Zyprexa had gained 18.7 pounds; Seroquel, 13.4 pounds; Risperdal, 11.7 pounds; and Abilify, 9.7 pounds.

Their waists typically expanded three inches with Zyprexa, and two inches with the others.

This article points out that the use of these drugs in treating children has been steadily climbing. A study from 2008 found that 15% of the patients treated with these antipsychotic drugs were under 19 years of age in 2005 as opposed to 7% in 1996.

Note that this is a more than doubling of the rate of children on these drugs in a period of less than 10 years time. I imagine we are getting this result because that many more children are being diagnosed as having serious mental disorders. Were these children allowed to be children, in many instances, I don’t think you’d be having this kind of result.

Let me close by pointing out that if the rate of antipsychotic drug use in children can increase, that rate can also decline.

Scottish Woman Suing Health Board

A woman from Dumbarton, Scotland, is suing the largest health board in that country according to this article in the Lennox Herald.

Claire Muir had heard that the child she was going to bear was deceased, and so she called to seek the services of a counselor. The telephone operator thought she sounded psychotic, and this resulted in the poor woman being sectioned under Great Britain’s Mental Health Act.

She’s angry, and I would say justifiably so.

Over the course of a 51 day hospital detention, Mrs. Muir says she was forcibly injected with psychiatric drugs over 12 times. She was physically assaulted and restrained while being forcibly drugged.

She said: “I would like the law to be changed because, at the moment, it gives all the power to psychiatrists and none to the patients. Psychiatrists are self-governed and need to be made accountable.”

I’m sure many people who have had unfortunate, humiliating, and unjust experiences with the mental health system would agree with Mrs. Muir.

Her lawyer, Hunter Watson, adds.

“She’s had a terrible experience and I hope she is successful in her case. I would also like the government to look at the law as it stands because nowhere is there acknowledgement that a psychiatrist can make a mistake.”

I’ve said pretty much the same thing on occasion. There is no Innocence Project for people committed to a state mental hospital.

The winning of a case like Mrs. Muir’s could prove very helpful for many of the people misdiagnosed mentally ill and falsely imprisoned in hospitals throughout the United Kingdom every year.

Record South Carolina Settlement Reached With Eli Lilly

A record settlement, against Eli Lily, the biggest between the company and any state, was reached with South Carolina Friday October 23rd to the tune of $45,000.000 over the marketing of Zyprexa according to an article in The State, Record drug settlement reached.

State legislators will have a say on how $38,000,000 of this settlement is spent, the rest going to attorney fees and the attorney general’s office.

This is a historic settlement for the state of South Carolina, the second largest after a cigarette making company case in 1998.

It also is the largest dollar amount any individual state has won from Eli Lilly. Connecticut is second with a $30 million settlement. South Carolina and other states have brought action against the drug maker claiming that it falsely marketed Zyprexa, a drug approved for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

64,000 South Carolina patients were affected from 1996-2007 according to the suit.

South Carolina and other states argued Eli Lilly:

— Did not properly warn of the drug’s side effects, including heart problems, diabetes, hyperglycemia and an increased risk of death in patients with dementia.
— Falsely marketed the drug to treat other illnesses, including depression and attention deficit disorder.

The parallels between the pharmaceutical industry and the tobacco industry I hope are not lost on the general public. There are drugs that do more harm than they do good, and yet the claim is that these drugs are medicinal.

Sustained damage from taking a physician prescribed pharmaceutical product is not the kind of result we should be seeking. Unfortunately, this is all too often the result we find we have.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder Explained

Do you ever have that ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ feeling? I had that feeling recently when I found this informational article on so called Oppositional Defiant Disorder. The piece is called, disturbingly enough, ODD Treatment.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD, is a behavior disorder. It is defined by the presence of markedly defiant, disobedient, provocative behavior and by the absence of more severe dissocial or aggressive acts that violate the law or the rights of others.

Uh, so adolescent rebellion is now a disorder. That’s what I’m getting out of this bit.

I’m wondering when ‘law breaking’ and ‘rights violations’ are going to become characterized as ‘disorders’. Yep, a little leap, and every criminal needs treatment.

Does the ODD kid have authority issues? Definitely, and specifically with those authorities known as parents. I feel a little queasy about the acronym as well. It’s sort of an if you don’t bow down to parental authority figures you’re strange in an odd man out sort of way.

Isn’t this a little, as I hear they still do in Russia, like calling it an illness to disagree with the government?

6 months displaying 4 of the following 8 behaviors, and you have an ODD child.

1. Often deliberately annoys people.
2. Often loses temper.
3. Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others.
4. Often argues with adults.
5. Is often spiteful or vindictive.
6. Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules.
7. Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior.
8. Is often angry or resentful.

Oh, no. I’m coming down with that ‘you’ve got to be kidding feeling’ again. It would seem that adolescence and ODD are awfully close to being one and the same thing. You know, adolescence? A time when a young person is beginning to put a little distance between him or herself and his or her parents. It’s part of the growing up, or weaning, process.

If the child is preadolescent, not to get upset, maybe you actually have a gifted child on your hands.

All is not a downhill glide for these kids. There are some rocky roads to be traveled.

Associated features

* Learning Problem
* Depressed mood
* Hyperactivity
* Addiction
* Dramatic or erratic or antisocial behavior

To which I’d like to add:

* Lack of understanding authority figures.

NAMI And Big Pharma In Bed Together

Not that long ago the Senate committee investigating unreported funds doctors had received from pharmaceutical companies revealed that the organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, for the past 5 years has received 56% of it’s funding from pharmaceutical companies.

Today the New York Times ran an article, Drug makers are advocacy groups biggest donors, on this relationship NAMI has with the pharmaceutical industry. The allegations made in this article go even further.

But according to investigators in Mr. Grassley’s office and documents obtained by The New York Times, drug makers from 2006 to 2008 contributed nearly $23 million to the alliance, about three-quarters of its donations.

With ¾ of the donations NAMI receives coming from drug companies I would call that subsidizing. This situation is more than worrisome. Financially speaking, NAMI is a front for the drug industry.

Due to the actions of Senator Charles Grassley’s committee, and similar to the way Eli Lilly is posting the names of doctors it funds, NAMI is now posting the names of its major donors to its website.

Mr. Fitzpatrick said Mr. Grassley’s scrutiny, which he described as understandable given the attention paid to potential conflicts of interest in medicine, had led his organization to begin posting on its Web site the names of companies that donate $5,000 or more. And he predicted that other patient and disease advocacy groups would be prodded by Mr. Grassley’s investigation to do the same.

Wouldn’t you know it? NAMI lobbies on behalf of drug companies, drug companies that happen to have their own lobbyists.

For years, the alliance has fought states’ legislative efforts to limit doctors’ freedom to prescribe drugs, no matter how expensive, to treat mental illness in patients who rely on government health care programs like Medicaid. Some of these medicines routinely top the list of the most expensive drugs that states buy for their poorest patients.

The article goes on to mention last weeks annual 300$ dollar a plate bash put on by the organization and sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb. A researcher from Bristol-Myers Squibb spoke to the audience at this event.

The NY Times has documents showing that drug company executives have also given NAMI direct advice on how to forcefully advocate on issues that affect drug company profits. One such meeting mentioned was with executives from AstraZeneca.

Although Michael Fitzpatrick, the organization’s director, says he hopes to be able to decrease the amount of funding NAMI receives from drug companies, other aspects of this relationship are unlikely to change. This is unfortunate as there are many dangers associated with these pharmaceutical products that are not going to be diminished by NAMI’s continuing cozy relationship with drug manufacturers, drug manufacturers whose aims are by no means altruistic.

Mental Illness Stigma or Mental Health Recovery

Front, left, and center, the treatment junkies and their pill pushers like to give it us. Advertisements for mental illness are gaining ground and support by leaps and bounds. Here’s one from the land down under as the Sydney Herald Gazette reports Hiding your mental illness only increases the stigma.

Automatically I’m looking around. Mental illness? Who, me?

The propensity of people to distance themselves from the mentally ill in a bid not to be assumed “crazy” or “insane” can be quite dangerous. Studies have shown that much of the social stigma felt by people living with mental illness is actually created by their fellow sufferers. Every patient who shirks their diagnosis with the defensive comment “but I’m not a crazy person” implies that they are above or beyond the mental instability of others in similar emotional states.

Diagnosis = responsibility? I don’t think so.

We have another word vital to treatment efforts and that word is recovery. When a person has recovered from a serious mental illness, a person has moved beyond the condition that may have held that person back. This is to say that what we call wits, sense, or reason, if lost, can be restored.

I personally think that it is more reasonable to break out of, than it is to break into, a mental hospital. Those are my thoughts, but it seems to be a lesson that some of us never completely grasp.

There is a missed opportunity here – every time a depressed and anxious person denies being like all the other depressed and anxious people, a tiny chance for acceptance and compassion is extinguished. The often awkward treatment of mental illness in the workplace, schools and homes is never going to improve if people experiencing mental illness themselves are sabotaging the move for greater social understanding from within.


The problem here is that when you saddle a person with a diagnosis you transform an adjective into a noun. The people who haven’t been unhappy or anxious, etc., I don’t know, but this is not because they’re necessarily chronically depressed or anxiety ridden, it’s because they’re human beings. The same people can be ecstatic or calm. This is as true of people who are called depressed and anxious, at one time or another, as it is of everybody else. Putting a diagnostic tag between yourself and other people doesn’t make you somebody special.

We know you can ‘have’ a ‘mental illness‘. Is it possible for you to lose your mental illness? Just for a little while even, and then, maybe for a little while longer. Take a few baby steps, when first starting out, if need be, but there is a big world out there just beyond the parenthetical world of treatment, and it’s not waiting for you.

I know it takes some people longer than it does others, but sooner or later, you get over it. You get over it, or you bear your stigmata for life that is.

Mental Patients, Other Medical Patients, and The Charisma Factor

There’s a very interesting article from the Irish Times on the difference in treatment mental patients receive as opposed to other medical patients. The title seems to say it all until you start reading the article itself, You don’t bring me flowers…self stigma of mental illness.

A recent study from Britain, carried out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, found that 51pc of those in medical and surgical wards were in receipt of get-well cards, while for those in psychiatric wards the figure was 31pc.

Over half (52pc) said they did not receive any cards, flowers or gifts when they were last mentally ill — compared with 36pc the last time they were physically ill. This prompted the college to launch get-well cards for those with mental health problems with the greeting: ‘Thinking of you at this time. Hope things improve soon.’

This study was not seen as surprising as two other studies of recent date have had similar findings. One 2004 study mentioned, done by a Dr. Joanne Bromley of Bristol, had the following results to add.

The psychiatric patients received half as many cards as the medical patients. The type of gift given differed also, with medical patients receiving more luxury items, such as chocolates, flowers or books, while psychiatric patients tended to receive practical items such as toiletries, tobacco and food.

The other study involved counting the number of visible cards on lockers over a period of 3 weeks, and finding the psychiatric patients received approximately half the number of cards as the medical patients.

Self-stigma is seen as one of the reasons for this lack of expressed sympathy put forward. The patient, out of shame, may not want it to be widely known that he or she is on a psych unit. I think self-stigma is kind of like low self-esteem, and that the real culprit, the culprit that may have put the person in the hospital in the first place, might have great deal more to do with low other esteem. The patient has been hospitalized for being under appreciated in other words.

On a related subject I googled internalized oppression, and I got this definition from the online Urban Dictionary website.

Internalized Oppression

the process by which a member of an oppressed group comes to accept and live out the inaccurate myths and stereotypes applied to the group.

At the heart of this internalized oppression, obviously, is the matter of externalized oppression, or those inaccurate myths and stereotypes as applied to a group of people by people who don’t belong to that group itself.

Wikipedia is even more blunt on oppression.

Oppression is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. It can also be defined as an act or instance of oppressing, the state of being oppressed, and the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, and anxiety.

And further, on internalized oppression.

In sociology and psychology, internalized oppression is the manner in which an oppressed group comes to use against itself the methods of the oppressor. For example, sometimes members of marginalized groups hold an oppressive view toward their own group, or start to believe in negative stereotypes of themselves.

A resolution is possible to this internalized oppression, and that resolution begins with the realization that comes in an acknowledgment that the true source of many of one’s problems may lay outside of oneself.

When standard psychiatric practice involves doing violence and harm to a person, and you add to this violence and harm a generalized lack of sympathy from friends and family, I’d say that then anger and outrage become the only type of response that makes any sense.

Sunday Web Surfing Report

Colleges See Rise In Mental Health Issues

Mental illness rates are up on campus. Whoopee! Become a part of a trend, and see your college or university mental health counselor today.

“When there are more odd balls in this world, I will be even”, offers Miss Kook.

Hmmm. Maybe mental health screening has something to do with it?

Pastor: Society pressure causing mental disorders

Can societal pressure cause mental illness? A Trinidad pastor thinks so. I happen to agree with him.

(“What? No bad genes!? Sacrilege!”, screams Dr. Balderdash.)

David Murphy blames the high rate of mental illness in the world today on a lack of spiritual presence, and he calls for more good old time religion, and a return to family values.

Uh huh. That might work.

Being near nature improves physical, mental health

Skinny dipping anyone?

Proximity to nature can have a positive effect on your health, physical and mental, according to this USA Today article on a Dutch study.

It makes perfect sense to me.

Pennsylvania Proposed Outpatient Commitment Law

Oh, no. I had to deal with legislator’s pushing for forced treatment laws under the pretext of mental health reform when I was in Virginia. Now it’s happening in Pennsylvania.

An article in the Pocono Record, Mental health reform called for, has much to say on the subject.

Pennsylvania should make it easier to force severe mentally ill residents who refuse help into outpatient treatment, two panelists said during a forum Wednesday sponsored by the Monroe County League of Women Voters.

Severity is relative, and requires a judgment call, and the specialists making this judgment call, make mistakes.

Define ‘help’. When you are letting somebody else, besides the person directly involved, determine what is in his or her best interests, he or she is likely to disagree with what those interests are seen as being. That person may not see the ‘help’ being offered as actual help; that person may see it as harm or hendrance.

Current law, enacted in 1976, allows someone with a suspected severe mental illness to be ordered into a treatment evaluation only if that person is determined to be “a clear and present danger” to himself or others.

A proposed assisted outpatient treatment law — Senate bill 251 — would enable a judge to order someone into outpatient treatment for up to six months, followed by an evaluation and possible additional treatment for another year. A program coordinator would be charge with monitoring the treatment for compliance with the court order.

A 1 and ½ year sentence of treatment…for what crime? I take it we’re trying to get around the current laws demand for a clear and present danger to oneself or others.

This treatment almost invariably involves the use of powerful psychiatric drugs. These psychiatric drugs have devastating effects on an individual’s health, and can actually foreshorten a person’s life by many years.

“Neglect and abuse doesn’t play as big a role as once thought,” Freimer said. “Think about the fact these are real illnesses.”

They are? Show me a mental illness on a microscope slide then. I know that they exist in people’s heads, I don’t get the idea that they therefore necessarily exist in reality–physical reality.

If our politicians have gone crazy for this sort of anti-American legislation then maybe we are forcibly treating the wrong people.

Patients in Britain Paid to Take Psych Drugs

Psychiatric drugs are not always the wonder drugs they are so often cracked up to be. It’s estimated that a 1/3 of the patients given such drugs stop taking them due to the severity of the effects these drugs have on them. Now some Brit doctors have come up with an ingenious solution to the problem. They are paying patients to take drugs.

As reported by a recent BBC article, Psychiatric jabs for cash tested.

As a trial, 68 patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia will get £15 for every jab of anti-psychotic drug, earning them a possible £720 in a year.

A team at Queen Mary, University of London, hopes to encourage “difficult” patients to comply with treatment.

What these doctors are not telling their patients is that serious health risks are associated with the taking of psych drugs. 1 in 4 people maintained on neuroleptic drugs, the drugs used to treat psychosis, will develop a serious, often irreversible, crippling neurological disease, Tardive Dyskinesia, within five years time. The longer a person is maintained on a neuroleptic drug, the greater the chance of developing this movement disorder. People maintained on psych drugs are developing TD at the rate of 5% a year.

A little bit of information goes a long way, doesn’t it?

Some people value their health; some people value the health of their brains. Ancient Egyptians may have believed that the organ of thought didn’t serve much of a purpose in the afterlife, but in this life, we now know better.

I imagine there are other moral questions to ask of these methods as well. Is, for instance, corruption actually the best method of mental health treatment?

When all other attempts to achieve adherence have failed, bribery may be an option, according to Professor Stefan Priebe, who led the Queen Mary team.

There are people who wouldn’t take these psych drugs for all the money in the world.

Ironically the article I read this in uses a term I’ve heard used by psychiatrists at a conference I attended recently. You’ve heard of non-compliance, right. Well, now they’re using the term non-adherence. What is non-adherence? Non-adherence is non-compliance. A treatment plan, usually involving the taking of psych drugs, is the thing the patient is not adhering to, or non-compliant with. I guess it sounds better to have your objecting patients resemble bad tape rather than it does to have them seem like disobedient sheep.