Texting the disorder

As if things weren’t bad enough for young people already, what with video game addictions, internet addictions, ADHD, perverts and creeps, now serious disorders are being associated with texting. So says a story in the Australian Sun Times, Texting causes physical and mental disorders in teenagers—study.

Anxiety, insecurity, depression and low self-esteem have all been identified by researchers as symptoms common among text-addicted teenagers.

Note: these are also symptoms commonly associated with that period of development known as adolescence but teenagers, of course, should be oblivious to such matters.

A technology researcher has discovered a number of disorders linked to texting. Yep, you heard right, a technology researcher.

Dr [Jennie] Carroll said her study into the effects of modern communication had found four distinct disorders – textaphrenia, textiety, post-traumatic text disorder and binge texting.

She also mentions related developments from Japan.

“There were reports from Japan of ‘repetitive thumb syndrome’ and of young people’s thumbs growing in response to too much texting, leading to ‘monster thumbs’.”

The generational divide may not be growing, but it kind of looks that way with every generation, doesn’t it?

One little matter, where’s hyper sexting disorder!? In some projected future edition of a Diagnostic and Statistical Texting Manual or DSTM!?

The assumption here seems to be that we’re dealing with mainly good little teenagers as the subject of sexting never comes up once during the course of the entire article. Praise the lord! Mom and Dad must have downloaded Cyber Nanny. The kids will have to do what they are probably doing anyway, as the need arises, and resorting to computers outside of the home.

Yep, sometimes life is just a matter of slipping out from under the noses of Mom and Dad. If teenagers can’t manage that, I feel certain an accommodating therapist can be found.

Administrative Changes Come to Central Louisiana State Hospital in Pineville

Remember Central Louisiana State, I posted a blog entry about the place awhile ago, 3 dead in Pineville Louisiana. Following investigations into this incident, the administrator and the associate administrator of the hospital are out of a job according to a story in thetowntalk.com, ‘Basic policies not followed’ at hospital in Pineville; 2 top officials out after food poisoning kills 3 patients.

The culprit in this food poisoning incident has been identified as clostridium perfringens, #3 in the Food Poisoning Department.

The deadly outbreak over the first weekend in May also sickened 42 other patients and 12 staff members. The cause of the outbreak was traced to improperly stored chicken salad served at the facility that was infected with the third most common form of food poisoning — clostridium perfringens. The investigations found serious deficiencies in dietary services and concerns with the overall operation of the hospital, according to the release.

According to the article, investigations conducted by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals found the hospital had what were termed “unacceptable process and management issues”.

The hospital itself will soon be under new management.

Patrick Kelly, the hospital’s administrator, resigned earlier this week, DHH reported, and the associate administrator, Paul Benoit, retired Wednesday.

Ken Portal, a current member of the administrative state of Southeastern Louisiana State Hospital, has been named interim administrator at Central Louisiana State Hospital.

“The staff at CLSH was cooperative, and I’m grateful for that. But I have seen enough evidence of unacceptable performance that I am convinced major changes are necessary. Basic policies were not followed. Staff was not properly educated. The findings across the board raise real concerns related to overall management that go beyond the food service area.”

So says Alan Levine, Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary.

The hospital’s kitchen is closed, and the patients are being fed curtesy of Pinecrest Supports and Services, also located in Pineville. Let’s hope their menu is a little more palatable, in more ways than one, than general state hospital fare.

Psychiatric Drugs Harm Unborn Children

Recreational drug use is contraindicated during pregnancy. Duh! Well, the same is true for psychiatric drugs. A new study has shown not only many adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs in children, but that when used by expectant mothers, some of the most commonly used psychiatric drugs caused birth defects. This study was covered in a PsychCentral article, Psychiatric Medication Risk in Children.

“A range of serious side effects such as birth deformities, low birth weight, premature birth, and development of neonatal withdrawal syndrome were reported in children under two years of age, most likely because of the mother’s intake of psychotropic medication during pregnancy,” Associate Professor Lisa Aagard of the University of Copenhagen told ScienceDaily. Aagard and Professor Ebbe Holme Hansard collaborated in studying data from Danish Medicines Agency.

The data from this study has broken down reactions to psychiatric drugs according to the type of drug used.

When the severe side effects were broken down by medication class, the most frequent culprits were psychostimulants in 42% of the cases (medications like Ritalin, used most often for conditions such as ADD and ADHD), antidepressants (31%), and antipsychotics (24%). A smaller number (2.5%) were due to sedatives; these reactions were mostly in infants, and all were serious.

Much discussion has been generated about the screening of young women for postpartum depression. There is a definite downside to such screenings that doesn’t get so much airplay. I don’t think we need to encourage women to harm their children in an effort to keep their own good spirits up. The presumption should be of good health, mental and physical, for any woman expecting a child.

“Psychotropic medications should not be prescribed in ordinary circumstances because this medication has a long half-life. If people take their medication as prescribed it will be a constantly high dosage and it could take weeks for one single tablet to exit the body’s system. Three out of four pregnancies are planned, and therefore society must take responsibility for informing women about the serious risks of transferring side effects to their unborn child,” suggests Aagard.

Birth defects are seldom planned. You can do much to discourage birth defects by keeping your expectant mothers off psychiatric drugs.

Alternative therapists hit Kashmir India

20 years of warfare in India’s Kashmir province seem to have taken a heavy psychological toll on the people residing there. The Times of India has a striking account, featuring one Paul Fadden, a British alternative therapist who does Reiki. Reiki is a technique for channeling energy through a laying on of hands. The article on this excursion bears the heading Where the mind is with fear.

During his stay in Kashmir, Fadden gave Reiki to mental health patients, 90 per cent of whom had lost a close relative. Several others had seen somebody die; many suffered from the “midnight-knock syndrome” — a fear stemming from unceasing pre-dawn raids by security forces. All of them had been — or still were — on high doses of medication for up to 15 years. “They were gentle people weighed down by the burden of their experiences, their lives torn apart by the conflict,” says Fadden.

The conflict began in 1989, and according to this article, 5 years later an observer would find a 300% jump in the number of patients seen at one hospital per day.

Insurgency wasn’t the only experience these people had to recover from; some of them were also paying a high emotional tab for the psychiatric treatment they had received as well.

Author-journalist Justine Hardy, who brought the therapists, says medication is part of the problem. “The response to the huge numbers (of patients) has been to medicate the problem, literally, with high tranquiliser, sedative, antipsychotic and anti-depressant drug doses.” The side effects, she says, have been as difficult to manage as the disorders. “An integrated approach is needed for these people to recover and find their way back to a quality of life, allowing society to begin to progress and heal.”

Did I ever say that psychiatric drugs have been known to impede, and even to completely stymie, the recovery process? Well, such is the case. If you don’t believe me, just look into the relationship between long term psychiatric treatment and negative outcomes sometime.

Fadden, too, recommends a holistic approach. “It is common in most forms of medicine to focus only on the patient,” he says. “To think that only the people being treated have been affected by the conflict is to grossly underestimate the effects on society as a whole. The project produced remarkable results. Within just the first two weeks, some of the patients were electing to come off medication. Six months later, these remarkable individuals hadn’t reverted.”

There is a very encouraging and positive lesson to be learned from this venture of sending alternative therapists into a country to relieve and back up over burdened and over worked psychiatrists. I hope somebody is picking up on it.

Rally For Children’s Rights Held In St. Petersburg…Russia

Apparently foster children in the USA are not the only throw away children in the world suffering from the abuse of psychiatric over diagnosis of disease, and the over prescribing of dangerous brain injuring drugs. Orphans in Russia are also targeted by psychiatrists, according to a story from Radio Free Europe, St. Petersburg Activists Rally For Children’s Rights.

Dozens of human rights activists in the Russian city of St. Petersburg have held a public gathering in defense of children’s rights, RFE/RL’s Russian Service reports.

A local St. Petersburg non-governmental organization, the Civil Committee for Human Rights, organized the recent action that took place on International Children’s Day, June 1st of this year.

The organization’s leader, Roman Chorny, told RFE/RL that the major issue raised today was safeguarding children from what he called “improper and baseless psychiatric diagnoses.”

According to Chorny, the underage patients most vulnerable to such misdiagnosis are orphans. “Very often children in orphanages are ‘punished’ for their misbehavior by injections of psychotropic drugs with side effects,” he said.

Sound familiar? It should. Even if the US reports of abuse of foster children and other children in poverty are not so forthright as to call their mistreatment punishment, the same sort of measures are being applied to children in this country, probably to a much greater extent than they are being used on orphans in Russia.

The problem we have, and one that was alluded to in the Radio Free Europe story, is that a career of permanent disability in the respective mental health/illness systems is all too often a common likely result of such early ’interventions’.

Ironic, isn’t it? Radio Free Europe can manage to report on something taking place in Russia that the mainstream media wouldn’t touch in this country, not in a substantial way, even though it is taking place here to a greater degree than it is taking place there.

Maybe it’s high time a few more of us took to the streets to protest the dwindling rights of children (and parents) in the USA and Western Europe as well.

Desire And The Bipolar Identity

Bipolar disorder is on the rise. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists 1 in 100 people in the United Kingdom have it. According to more recent studies, the corrected figure may be something closer to 11 in every 100 people. That’s the figure Royal College gives for what could be what they call “the true prevalence”.

Note: 11 in 100 people are just over 1 in 10, or 10% of the population.

I suggest the figures might be much smaller than that if the media, pharmaceutical companies, the advertising industry, the psychiatric profession, mental health professionals, and other interested parties weren’t out to make a national pastime of it.

The genes for bipolar disorder are apparently not sex linked either as both men and women seem susceptible to it at equal rates.

I am taking my information from an article in Boots WebMD Health News with the curious title of Psychiatrists identify new phenomenon: “I want to be bipolar…” This article points to celebs Stephen Fry, Kerry Katona, and Paul Gascoigne, and claims their diagnoses have inspired a trend.

I’d like to add that here in the United States we have more than our share of bipolar stars, too. Patty Duke, Carrie Fisher, and Brian Wilson leap to mind when you consider the status of celebrated figures in the national Who’s Who of people with major mental illnesses.

Writing in The Psychiatrist Dr Diana Chan and Dr Lester Sireling who work in London say “We have noticed in our clinical practice a new and unusual phenomenon, where patients present to psychiatrists with self-diagnosed bipolar disorder.

“Recently, we have noticed numerous GP referrals to our service where the primary request has been for a psychiatric opinion on whether the patient may have bipolar disorder, as suggested by the patient’s own self-diagnosis.”

“Also common, but less so in our experience, is the patient who attends reluctantly at the instigation of family members who are convinced they have finally made the diagnosis that can explain the awkward or embarrassing behaviour of their relative. Both types of presentation were very uncommon until about three years ago.”

Confusingly enough, in this article a Dr. Peter Byrne, Director of Public Education at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, goes on to call bipolar disorder a “very rare illness.”

Well, I’m thinking, it must depend on who you ask. We’ve got statistics from the same article claiming 01% of the population has bipolar disorder, and a later 11% of the population may have bipolar disorder, regarded as a ‘truer’ figure, depending on who you ask. Further, it goes on to suggest that bipolar disorder is under diagnosed! As illnesses go, I doubt 11% would be construed as “very rare”.

The article claims that perhaps promoting the illness as less stigmatizing and more acceptable has lead to this spate in self-diagnosis. Optimism was expressed in the hope that if the stigma against this illness was waning, maybe the stigma against psychiatry as a profession was on the wane as well, and maybe more medical students would consider pursuing psychiatry as a career.

Keep your eye on that 11% figure. I see it getting antsy to climb a little higher already.

Psychiatric Drugs and Fatal Car Crashes

Psychiatric drugs impair brain function. There have been questions raised as to how safe it is for a person under the influence of some of these psychiatric drugs to drive. Usually, use of these drugs is seen as a trade off, symptom reduction for drug side-effects. Now it seems some of these drugs are endangering the lives of people who do not take them as well. The Newark Advocate.com contains a story by one C. Jeff Lee who works in the County Coroners Office of Licking County Ohio, We should decrease the number of drivers under the influence of medications.

What we have become more aware of at the coroner’s office the past few years is that there are increasing numbers of drivers dying in crashes who have strong prescription and/or over-the-counter medications in their system at the time of the crash that are known to cause serious effects by altering consciousness. These medications include pain medications, sleep aids, cold and allergy medications, psychiatric medications, antidepressants and anti-seizure medications, and these effects might occur even at normal prescribing levels.

Drugs, you will note, used in the treatment for all or most serious mental illness are covered in the above paragraph.

In Licking County, we have seen a great number of crash deaths involving these medications. From Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2009, a total of 46 drivers died in vehicular crashes. While it might not be alarming at first to know that during this time frame only 32 percent of drivers had alcohol in their system, only 28 percent of drivers had at least one illegal drug in their system and only 30 percent of drivers had at least one altering prescription or over-the-counter medication in their system, but to discover that a total of 76 percent of drivers had at least one of these substances in their system at the time of the crash is ominous. In fact, 17 percent of drivers had one of these medications, 11 percent had two of these medications and one driver had four different medications in their system at the time of the crash. Not until you combine all these data can you completely understand this problem as 43 percent of drivers had one substance, 20 percent had two different substances, 9 percent had three different substances and 4 percent had four different substances in their system at the time of the crash. That leaves only 24 percent of the drivers that were “clean.”

76 % of the drivers in these crash deaths were on drugs of one sort or another while 30% of them were on prescribed drugs. Polypharmacy, or the practice of prescribing multiple drugs, was involved in a few of these crashes. Polypharmacy is a practice that is certainly not going to improve anybodys road performance.

We have here just one more reason why other treatment options should be made available to people who want those options in mental health treatment over and above psychiatric drug maintenance alone. Not only is the person who takes to the road after ingesting some of these pills endangering his or her own life, but such a person is also putting other people’s lives in jeopardy as well.

Why Crawl When You Can Fly

When I was in college transactional analysis was very popular. I took psychology, and one of our textbooks, in fact, was a transactional analysis tract. I remember our teacher going over the 4 life positions…

*     I’m Okay. You’re Okay.
*     I’m Okay. You’re not Okay.
*     I’m not Okay. You’re Okay.
*     I’m not Okay. You’re not Okay.

The only one of these life positions that mattered was the life position of maneuverability, and social commerce, or the life position that says “I’m Okay; you’re Okay”.

She said, at one point, that people who are psychotic take the life position of “I’m not Okay”, and people who are psycho &/or sociopathic take the life position of “I’m Okay; you’re not Okay”.

I found, in large respect, as regards people in mental health treatment, this appraisal rather sound. I’ve found usually it’s a case of somebody taking the attitude that there’s something wrong with me, and nobody can convince me there’s something right with me, or maybe, to tone things down a wee bit, I’m different from everybody else. You look in the mirror and see Joe Smith; I look in the mirror and see ET.

A further discovery was the fact that the “I’m not Okay; you’re Okay” life position was the life position of compliance. Compliance is not the best life position in the world to take, just ask any doormat, and if you get a ‘welcome’, dig deeper. It probably won’t be hard to wear out any ‘welcome’ you receive. If such isn’t the case, congratulations, you’ve found a second home.

This leads back to a television show I once saw about the urban legend of the student making a research project out of admitting him or herself into a mental health facility, and then not being allowed to leave. The conclusion the show seemed to draw was that a person would have to be crazy to break into a mental health facility.

I don’t want to go into the reasons why breaking into a mental health facility is crazy. If you are looking for those, I suggest you read up on the subject of torture, and then we can further expand the line of reasoning in our argument. Imprisonment in the name of medical treatment, as far as joke’s go, that’s a good one, isn’t it?

If craziness is breaking into a mental health facility, then ‘sanity’ or health must be breaking out of a mental health facility. Whether you go by the book, or you’re able to surreptitiously slip out the door, getting the idea that you don’t belong there is winning half the battle over this modern marvel of a medical chimera. I just wonder why this is such a hard lesson for some people to learn.

That Fishy Smell In The Psychiatry Department

Remember Charles Nemeroff, I wrote about him awhile back. Well, the plot thickens…

Dr. Nemeroff, after the senate committee chaired by Senator Grassley found he had been deceptive as to the extent of his funding by the drug industry, was fired by the Emory University only to be picked up by the University of Miami.

Dr. Nemeroff had been subjected to a 2 year ban by Emory University from applying for funds from the National Institute of Health. Apparently this ban only applied to Emory University because Nemeroff was pretty easily able to find his way around it, with the help of Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

Later it was discovered that Dr. Insel, much to his chagrin and embarrassment, had helped land Dr. Nemeroff his jobs at both Emory University and the University of Miami.

This kind of mischief rekindled the interests of Senator Grassley.

A former faculty member from Emory University within their department of Psychiatry just got a letter to the editor on Dr. Nemeroff in the Miami Herald.

University of Miami’s bad hire
Letters to the Editor
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Re the June 10 story Senator tells UM he’s `troubled’ over hiring: The University of Miami has hired a chairman for the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Charles Nemeroff, who has become the poster child for what’s wrong with academic medicine in our country.

Nemeroff was relieved of his chairmanship at Emory University in Atlanta for failing to disclose conflicts of interest in his publications and presentations. That means that he was a well-paid frontman for a number of drug manufacturers.

Now it has been revealed that many of his articles were ghost-written by the drug companies and that he recommended a drug, Paxil, as safe for pregnant women when, in fact, it can cause congenital heart defects in newborns.

One has to wonder what the people at UM are thinking? Or if they’re thinking at all?

JOHN NARDO
Former faculty member
Department of Psychiatry
Emory University
Jasper, Ga.

If I remember correctly, I said something very similar about the University of Miami’s hiring practices immediately after Dr. Nemeroff was picked up by them. The question then arises, should Florida become better known for taking in the trash other states throw off? I certainly hope not anyway.

I think there must be an awfully lot of red faces down on the southern end of the peninsula about now, and that redness is not exclusively sunburn.

Sudden Wounded Soldier Death Syndrome

One story that has been news over the last few years that I don’t want to let slip through my fingers is that of the accidental deaths of wounded US soldiers assigned to medical units. Since 2007 there have been at least 32 such deaths. I’m taking my info here from a story in the Air Force Times, Accidental overdoses alarm military officials.

The 30 soldiers and two Marines overdosed while under the care of special Army Warrior Transition Units or the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment, created three years ago to tightly focus care and attention on troops suffering from severe physical and psychiatric problems as a result of combat.

In the case of these deaths, either the soldier patient’s heart gives out, or the soldier patient’s breathing stops, during sleep. The cause of these suspicious deaths is not as mysterious as one might at first suppose.

Most of the troops had been prescribed “drug cocktails,” combinations of drugs including painkillers, sleeping pills, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, interviews and records show. In all cases, suicide was ruled out.

An internal review was conducted of the matter. Disturbingly enough, the numbers of soldiers dying has gone up as the numbers of soldiers in the WTUs has gone down, from 12,000 to 900.

I have often written about the dangers of polypharmacy. It is a practice that apparently has caught up with the US military.

The internal review found the biggest risk factor may be putting a soldier on numerous drugs simultaneously, a practice known as polypharmacy. According to an Army analysis from June 2009, about 9 percent of WTU patients — 800 soldiers — were prescribed a combination of drugs that included pain, psychiatric and sleep medications.

New guidelines and rules have been put in place, and the numbers of wounded soldiers dying accidentally is down to 2 this year.

During the past decade — for nearly all of which the U.S. has been at war on two fronts — the military community has seen a dramatic rise in the use of the types of medications linked to the WTU deaths. For example, the military health care system’s prescription orders for painkillers nearly tripled, while those for anti-seizure medications rose 68 percent, according to a recent Military Times analysis of Defense Logistics Agency data.

Many of these patients were soldiers who had received PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) and other psychiatric labels. My expectation is that there will be a seesaw effect, due to the heavy reliance on pharmaceutical products these days, with such deaths due to spike again sometime in the future.

Another question, not broached by this article, is how many people outside of the military might be dying abruptly and unexpectedly from this same sort of thing? Given an average age at death 25 years younger than for the population at large, I suspect the numbers may be way up there for people on the receiving end of the mental health/illness system.