In the first month of the pandemic, there was a 21% increase in new prescriptions for antidepressants, anxiolytics and sleep medications. 78% of these prescriptions were for patients receiving these drugs for the first time. This situation is like a vise, squeezing people from both sides. Unfortunately, all these medications have serious side effects and are no substitute for human interaction, empathy, or psychotherapy, which can actually heal the problem. The problem isn't a "chemical imbalance." The problem is trauma. Our political systems create more of it. The disparities between groups of people increase, and we are being pitted one against another as corporations and the elite profit, while the 99% suffer. This is trauma. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/928901
It seems like every few weeks we are hearing about another study that "proves" that genetics cause "mental illness," the genes for schizophrenia, or depression, or alcoholism have been found in another closely related family tree or cultural group. If you've ever had any doubts about the veracity of these claims (I sure have), then check out the work of psychologist Jay Joseph. He's written a number of books on the fallacies inherent in research done on twins, and genetic research in general. You'll never look at genetic studies the same way after reading his work. He also has a blog on the Mad in America website.
This is a "consumer" initiated effort to educate people about psychiatric medication, especially the things your health care provider may not tell you or even know themselves. I believe it is wise to educate yourself about medication and its pros and cons, just as it is with anything else you are going to put into your body or become involved with (and the includes psychotherapy)! Check out The Inner Compass Initiative!
Cell phones, Netflix, Snapchat... friends or foes? My daughter's pediatric dentist said that the screen she has above her treatment chair is the best anesthetic she has for children! Mesmerized by the images, they don't notice or feel a thing! Good when you have a drill in your mouth, but not necessarily how we want our children to be when we are trying to interact with them!
My best advice... set guidelines for your child's usage BEFORE you purchase the device, and talk often about how things are going. Also, be aware of what you are modeling for your child in terms of your own use of digital media. I know all this takes time and energy, of which many of us feel we have precious little of, but remember that old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Here are a few websites that can give you some ideas about how to handle your child's first cell phone.
Laura Markham, PhD from Aha Parenting
Bosco-an app that helps you keep track
Years ago I read Robert Whitaker's "Anatomy of an Epidemic." Years before that, in graduate school, I read Peter Breggin's "Toxic Psychiatry," and I've read many books in between. I started educating myself about the problems and dangers of psychiatric medication, because I noticed that the patients I saw on them not only were not getting better, but some of them were getting worse, despite being given more drugs and higher dosages. I saw this in outpatient settings, day treatment programs, and in a state mental hospital. Often I saw psychotherapy helped people when years of being on drugs had not. Now in private practice, sometimes I see a person who is on so much medication that they can't feel and can't think--and therefore, they can't benefit from psychotherapy, because in order to change you have to be aware. I've particularly seen the damage antipsychotics or neuroleptics can do. Check out this new article by Robert Whitaker who cites a recently published peer reviewed research study on the effectiveness of these drugs https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/12/timberrr-psychiatrys-evidence-base-for-antipsychotics-comes-crashing-to-the-ground/
We are so lucky to have Grace Jackson, MD, practicing in nearby Cottonwood, Arizona! She is a leading authority on the negative effects of psychiatric medications, and has written two books, "Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs, a Guide for Informed Consent" and "Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime."
I had known of Dr. Jackson because we were both members of The International Society For Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry. A few years ago, I was reading a report on a patient who had been referred to me and was being discharged from Verde Valley Medical Center. The psychiatrist who wrote the report was discussing possible drug interactions and over medication issues that could be negatively affecting the patient. I thought, "Wow, who wrote this report? I need to meet this person!" and lo and behold, it was Dr. Jackson!
At my request, she spoke about her work on drug induced dementia at the Granite Mountain Psychological Society meeting in November 2015. The data is absolutely chilling--being on any psychiatric drug results in an increased likelihood of developing dementia, and this risk increases with the longer one is on the drug, and of course, the dosage. If this raises concerns for you, you can find out more about Dr. Jackson here and make an appointment to go see her. She does take some insurance plans, which makes her services more affordable. She and I have worked together to help patients reduce their reliance on psychiatric medication, and I would be happy to talk about this possibility with you.
Digital media! Are you addicted to it? Are your children? Facebook, smart phones, Instagram--it is all alluring and mesmerizing at the same time. Here's an article about the negative effects of this technology, especially on children. What do you think about going on a digital media holiday? Have you tried it? If so, what were the results?
Interesting article about drug courts and addiction treatment in this month's Pacific Standard magazine, "How American Overdosed on Drug Courts" by Maia Szalavitz.
Here's a quote I totally agree with:
"Attempting to 'wake people up' by shaming them--an approach that runs deep in American attitudes and folklore--in fact fails far more often than it succeeds." Humiliation, shaming, and intense confrontation are commonly used in many addiction treatment programs in the Prescott area, according to clients and staff that I have worked with. I've also heard of therapists in private practice using these sorts of abusive "techniques." Know that this sort of treatment really has no place in humane, respectful, and therapeutic interactions.
Check out the Health and Behavior section of Pacific Standard Magazine online. They have some really cool articles.
You can watch this movie online for free until March 6, 2015. http://boughtmovie.net/free-viewing/thank-you.php?AFFID&email
This expose of the pharmaceutical industry includes an interview with the Glaxo Smith Kline/Paxil whistleblower, and the Johnson & Johnson Risperdal lawsuit and settlement is also covered.
For an interview with the film's producer, check out http://undergroundwellness.com/ Look for podcast #320.
I've been asked to do a training on Nonviolent Communication for mentors in the Boys to Men program in January 2015. Learning to listen to others' feelings and needs is a great way to actually become more empathic. I'll be teaching some of these basic skills and also leading experiential exercises so mentors can practice responding in "real life" situations with the young men they work with. Looking forward to this!
Sarah Edmonds, PhD is a licensed psychologist, a mom, an activist, and a lover of dance.