Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Antidepressant Doesn't Suppress Sex Drive!

Politics Daily, a subsidiary of AOL News, describes a new medication:

Here's some good news that should brighten up this cold, snowy January: The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new antidepressant with minimal sexual side effects.

The most commonly used class of antidepressants -- called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) -- has quickly risen to the top of the charts for their ability to treat depression. These include such household names as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. But there's one problem with SSRIs: Many of them cause sexual dysfunction, including problems with achieving erection, delayed orgasm and loss of libido. As a result, patients frequently abandon their medication.

The new drug, vilazodone (the name suggests it could be an atypical antidepressant like trazodone or nefazodone), was developed by the company Clinical Data and will be marketed under the brand name Viibryd. In clinical trials, it did not have a negative impact on sexual desire or function....

Friday, January 28, 2011

Exactly as You Thought: Trans-Fats and Saturated Fats Contribute to Depression

Excerpts from an article:

Eating foods high in trans-fats and saturated fats increases the risk of depression, according to a Spanish study published in the US Wednesday, confirming previous studies that linked "junk food" with the disease.

Researchers also showed that some products, such as olive oil, which is high in healthy omega-9 fatty acids, can fight against the risk of mental illness.

Authors of the wide-reaching study, from the universities of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, followed and analyzed the diet and lifestyle of over 12,000 volunteers over six years.

The report, published in the online journal PLoS ONE, noted the research was performed on a European population that enjoys a relatively low intake of trans-fats -- making up only 0.4 percent "of the total energy ingested by the volunteers."

"Despite this, we observed an increase in the risk of suffering depression of nearly 50 percent," said researcher Miguel Martinez....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

FDA To Consider Fate of ECT

Dr. John Grohol of Psych Central has ascended the soapbox to speak out on the proposal to "... downgrade electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) devices into the Class II medical device category — that is, a medical device that carries only 'medium risk.' Like a syringe." The American Psychiatric Association appears to endorse this change in writing.

"Currently ECT devices are classified as Class III devices — high risk. Yet they have never undergone the very basic safety and efficacy the FDA requires for all Class III medical devices and medications. Why not?

"We’re told the devices were 'grandfathered' into the Class III category because they’ve been around so long...."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another Compelling Reason Why Mental Illness Requires Our Attention

Usually he writes about military and political topics, but retired Marine Thomas D. Segel has this to say on his personal blog:

"Far too many voices have been raised in pontification about the mass shooting in Arizona. I have been very reluctant to add anything to the volumes of misinformation and unqualified statements that have headlined both electronic and print media for the past week. However, having worked in the field of mental health for many years, I do feel competent to examine that area of the current debate.

"If there is any health issue that is in need of serious reform, it is how the federal government and the many states of our union address the mental health care of the entire nation. Of all forms of illness, mental health causation is perhaps the least understood or researched. Treatment of the multiple forms of mental illness is also the most under funded area of medicine...."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Japanese Have a Word for It: "Hikikomori"

Michael Zielenziger's book, Shutting Out the Sun, describes a strange social phenomenon peculiar to Japan, but not to Western nations or even other Asian countries.

"More than one million young adults shut themselves in their rooms for years as a time. These adolescents and adults, known as "hikikomori", withdraw from societies for months or years at a time, not going to class, not working, not even leaving their homes, and often not even abandoning their rooms. These recluses become wholly dependent on their mothers to feed them....

"...Hiro a 26 year old, had locked himself in his room for seven years after being ridiculed by peers in his junior high school. He described to me his life as a hikikomori. Kenji, 36 years-old, had been alone in his room for almost two decades before he agreed to meet with me. He was unwilling to come out, unable to work or go to school or even sneak off to a movie. These men rarely even talk to their mothers, who leave hot meals at the bedroom door.

"These social isolates also account for much of the domestic violence in Japan, because frustrated, isolated men beat up their parents. These men are shut down and shut out of a Japanese society that demands a harsh and confining social order even as the new global architecture of commerce and media demands more individual autonomy, more self expression and ultimately more freedom for adults to shape their own destinies."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Loughner Case Exposes Deficiencies, Says Mental Health Advocate

Dr. E. Fuller Torrey wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal that reminds us that while most mentally ill people are not violent, we do have some who are walking time bombs.

These tragedies are the inevitable outcome of five decades of failed mental-health policies. During the 1960s, we began to empty the state mental hospitals but failed to put in place programs to ensure that the released patients received treatment after they left. By the 1980s, the results were evident—increasing numbers of seriously mentally ill persons among the homeless population and in the nation's jails and prisons.

Over the past three decades, things have only gotten worse. A 2007 study by the U.S. Justice Department found that 56% of state prisoners, 45% of federal prisoners, and 64% of local jail inmates suffer from mental illnesses....

Monday, January 10, 2011

Time's Top Ten List of Legal Drugs Linked to Violent Behavior

Physicians and patients alike need to be alert to symptoms that can lead a person into trouble. Here's the top ten list from Time magazine:

10. Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) An antidepressant which affects both serotonin and noradrenaline, this drug is 7.9 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.
9. Venlafaxine (Effexor) A drug related to Pristiq in the same class of antidepressants, both are also used to treat anxiety disorders. Effexor is 8.3 times more likely than other drugs to be related to violent behavior. (More on Adderall May Not Make You Smarter, But It Makes You Think You Are)
8. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) An antidepressant that affects serotonin (SSRI), Luvox is 8.4 times more likely than other medications to be linked with violence
7. Triazolam (Halcion) A benzodiazepine which can be addictive, used to treat insomnia. Halcion is 8.7 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs, according to the study.
6) Atomoxetine (Strattera) Used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Strattera affects the neurotransmitter noradrenaline and is 9 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to the average medication.
5) Mefoquine (Lariam) A treatment for malaria, Lariam has long been linked with reports of bizarre behavior. It is 9.5 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs.
4) Amphetamines: (Various) Amphetamines are used to treat ADHD and affect the brain's dopamine and noradrenaline systems. They are 9.6 times more likely to be linked to violence, compared to other drugs.
3) Paroxetine (Paxil) An SSRI antidepressant, Paxil is also linked with more severe withdrawal symptoms and a greater risk of birth defects compared to other medications in that class. It is 10.3 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to other drugs. (More on Healthland's Guide to Life 2011)
2) Fluoxetine (Prozac) The first well-known SSRI antidepressant, Prozac is 10.9 times more likely to be linked with violence in comparison with other medications.
1) Varenicline (Chantix) The anti-smoking medication Chantix affects the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, which helps reduce craving for smoking. Unfortunately, it's 18 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to other drugs — by comparison, that number for Xyban is 3.9 and just 1.9 for nicotine replacement. Because Chantix is slightly superior in terms of quit rates in comparison to other drugs, it shouldn't necessarily be ruled out as an option for those trying to quit, however.

We're In This Together

An article in Esperanza magazine, "Marriages Thrive Best when Depression Becomes 'Our Problem'.” states what should be obvious to every couple who is married, or at least living together as husband and wife, that chances of keeping the relationship alive are enhanced when both partners present a united front against a common enemy.

As a professional party entertainer, Phil S. of Sanbornton, New Hampshire can light up every face in the room with his comedy magic show and balloon twisting. But he can’t cheer up his wife, Cedar, when she’s experiencing a period of depression.

“It’s very hard for me when my wife is suffering and she can’t talk to me about it,” says Phil, 45....