Jan 06

What’s the difference between clinical depression and just having ‘sad mood’ (sadness) or ‘feeling blue’? This often-asked question is often asked and sometimes, it may indeed be hard to tell whether there are already signs of depression if someone has been feeling depressed for some time.

To try clarify this question to some extent, feel free to undergo the online test on my website, or watch the nice TED video clip below about the topic. If you feel like it, just add your experiences or observations in the comments below – maybe they can be of help for others asking themselves similar questions.

Jan 05

Photo src: thetastingnote.com

Viagra, the popular anti-impotence drug, may stop working for many patients after 2 years, the results of a study suggest.

Dr. Rizk El-Galley of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and colleagues interviewed 151 men who had filled prescriptions for Viagra. Overall, 74% reported that 25 milligrams (mg) to 100 mg of the drug enabled them to initiate and maintain erections sufficient for intercourse.

The improvement rate ranged from 50% for patients with impotence caused by diabetes, to 78% for those with no specified reason for impotence, to 100% for those with suspected leakage in their veins.

3 years later, the investigators re-interviewed 82 of the men, of whom 43 were still using the drug. Sixteen of those 43 (37%) said they had needed to increase the dose by 50 mg to achieve an adequate erection. It had taken between 1 and 18 months for the treatment to lose its effects. There was no correlation between the need to increase the dose and frequency of use.

‘In general, 81% of patients who were still receiving treatment were satisfied, and 92% were able to achieve and maintain erections sufficient for sexual intercourse in more than 50% of attempts,’ El-Galley and colleagues wrote in The Journal of Urology.

Of the 39 patients who had stopped taking Viagra, 28 had initially reported a good response. Fourteen of those patients who stopped said the drug no longer worked, and six said they had regained the ability to have spontaneous erections.

There is notable disappointment about the fading powers of the ‘blue miracle pill’ in the professional world. ‘According to my observations, Viagra only helps half of all patients with erectile dysfunction caused by physical factors’, P. Derahshani, head of the urology department of the Kölner Klinik am Ring (Cologne, BRD) reports. A potential health-risk lies in the fact that for patients showing habituation effects, the dose can only be rised by the ones who have previously used 25 or 50mg, while for doses above 100mg, the risk of side effects such as circulatory weakness, nausea or headaches increases remarkably.

No substitute for psychotherapy or sex therapy

“One should not forget that Viagra is only indicated for erectile dysfunction for those men whose potency problems have physical causes,” the Viennese urologist Werner Reiter of the impotence clinic at the Vienna General Hospital said in an interview with the “SĂŒddeutsche” (SZ). Especially in older men who smoke a lot and suffer from high blood pressure or heart disease, Viagra often loses its effect after prolonged dosing. In men with stable health, on the other hand, there is rarely a (physiological) habituation effect.
“If the impotence is caused by mental factors, Viagra will just cover up the first symptoms for a while,” warns Reiter. For long term success, these patients could only be helped with psychotherapy or sex therapy.

Health risks often underestimated

Fatally, many men ignore or underestimate the risk of self-medication. But an alarming number of 40 percent of the men who visit a doctor because of erection problems, suffer from arteriosclerosis of the coronary arteries (which may, but is not always the cause of erectile dysfunction). Impotence ‘may nevertheless be a sign of a disease or an incipient disease. However, to simply cover up symptoms and to look away from the real causes, has never worked out on the long run, neither in medicine nor in psychotherapy,” says sex therapist Karl F. Stifter. It is important to keep the whole person in mind, which in this case would mean to check for physiological causes of the erectile dysfunction before considering any medication.

Underestimated by many men is the risk of suffering a heart attack. Like most drugs that interfere with the blood circulation of the body, Viagra & Co. involve special risks for patients (sometimes unknowingly!) suffering from heart conditions. In particular, patients who are taking nitroglycerin or blood pressure lowering drugs, which also relax the smooth muscles, may not take the pills to avoid potentializing their effects. Together with medications containing nitrate (eg for angina pectoris), the drug may lead to a fatal drop in blood pressure and heart diseases in men with circulatory failure. An examination by a physician is therefore absolutely necessarily before taking them.

In fact, no other medications are responsible for as many deaths due to negligent use as the new “erection helpers”. Worldwide, 616 deaths after taking Viagra were reported during the first 3 years after its introduction alone. The easy availability of the tablets over the Internet or on the black market poses a big problem, because they are extremely inviting for self-medication, and there is a relatively high risk to purchase harmful imitations. The ‘copycat’ market of the tablets, mainly India and China, is hard to control, with all the associated risks for the end user. Often enough the tablets are also not only taken at a far too young age, but also abused as kind of a ‘lifestyle drug’, completely ignoring the impact on the cardiovascular system – and probably also the production of our endogenuous ‘drugs’ that help to build and maintain an erection, as the study mentioned above could indicate.

So there is reason to expect a massive increase of the number of ‘Viagra Veterans’ during the next years who suffer from what I’d call ‘multisystemic erectile dysfunction’: psychogenic erectile dysfunction by men who furtheron developed organically caused erectile dysfunction either from resistance against the drug or by underproduction of endogenous drugs from longterm use of the supplementary drugs). These men may well find themselves suck in a dead end once they reach an age (or have to deal with side effects of physical illnesses) involving a natural decrease of the erectile function without many remaining options to treat their impotence.
It has been proved that in the vast majority of men under the age of 50, erection problems are caused psychologically – but even (and especially) at a higher age, a medical examination is necessary before starting to take medication. If there is no clear evidence for a physical cause, in the interest of one’s health (and perhaps also to keep the “Viagra trump card” for more difficult times), it is recommended to seek counsel from a sex therapist or psychotherapist rather than to reflexively grab one of the readily available “blue pills”.

(Sources: Reuters.com; Rizk El-Galley et.al., “Long-Term Efficiacy of Sildenafil and Tachyphylaxis Effect” in: The Journal of Urology – September 2001 (Vol. 166, Issue 3, Pages 927-931); Image source: creakyeasel.com)

Dec 29

Interesting figures have recently been published by the British Home Office: statistics show that young men suffer just as much as women from ‘abuse’ by their partners – at least if forms of emotional violence like harassment or bullying are considered as forms of abuse as well.

Probably because men are usually feeling less self-confident at the beginning of a relationship, especially in the younger age group of 20-24 years a surplus of female violence (6.4% versus 5.4% male) can be found, while in higher age groups, both ratios are increasingly aligning. For 2007/2008, 2.2% of interviewed women of all ages reported about experiences of mild or severe physical violence by their partners, but for men, the value wasn’t much lower with 2.0%. However, the study also found that women are more commonly abused and have to experience more severe and repeated physical abuse. Looking at the quality of the data available to researchers, a report on violence against men of the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs from 2004 and a study by the Criminology Research Institute of Niedersachsen (Germany) conducted similar results for Germany with both reporting that the available data on violence is hardly sufficient to allow reliable conclusions about gender-based violence since domestic violence perpetrated by female partners is still considered a taboo by women, but also men – and social workers.

'Smitten - Engaged - Battered'
Controversial poster that depicted fathers as potential perpetrators of violence, funded by the Austrian Ministry of Women in 2008

In general, there seems to be a growing awareness process regarding the issue of female violence (including domestic violence). In England, for instance, male-specific charities have already been criticizing for some years that while in England and Wales there are a total of nearly 500 women’s shelters to escape from domestic problems and to obtain advice, but only 7 comparable facilities for men. Organisations and research dealing with women’s specific concerns are equipped with significant financial and media resources, while the ones dealing with men’s issues often have to fight for their financial survival every year. The shame of many men to get help for domestic violence underscores the public image (but also the statistics of many counseling services, which are often managed by women) that the perpetrators are usually men, while women are the victims of psychological and physical violence.

Related links and articles:

(Blog entry first posted in German language (‘Weibliche Gewalt – Ein Tabuthema’) in 02/2009; last update: 12/2011)

Dec 29

Today, I stumbled upon an impressive and moving interview with the survivor of a suicide attempt that was published in a newspaper article in September 2000. In a state of presuicidal constriction / presuicidal syndrome, Kevin Hines jumped of the Golden Gate Bridge and survived this jump only by extremely fortunate circumstances .

Photo © Seattle Times

Bild © Seattle Times

Today he can talk about it and works in a helping profession (nurse). In his spare time, he tries to inform and educate others about the importance of an accurate and professional medical and psychotherapeutic treatment of mental illness. ‘I’d feel lucky if with my horrific experience, I can just keep only one person from taking his own life,’ he says in the NZZ interview with G. Sachse. Indeed, during the (time-limited) course of a presuicidal syndrome that may define one of the worst stages of depression but also of paranoid delusions, the way the affected person perceives, experiences and thinks about what is going on may be much different than under normal circumstances, and it may also be linked differently than usual with one’s emotions and behavior. At the end, the affected person may see no other way out than to take his/her own life. Only after the abating of the syndrome, other options can be perceived and imagined again – that is why in times of crisis it is so vital to seek professional help right away (eg by doing an emergency-call, calling in for a crisis appointment at a psychotherapist, vitising a psychiatric clinic etc.) just to overcome the most difficult time. At least, friends or other acquaintances should be called up – the idea is to “play for time”, to aim at getting over this barely endurable phase by all means, at least to get through until the next morning. If, unexpectedly, you as the suffering person would still not feel better at that time, you should contact a trusted physician. Consider, however, that for periods of serious depression, it is actually recommended to consult a qualified psychiatrist or psychotherapist, even if it has not yet already come to suicidal thoughts, or if these thoughts have already subsided – to avoid them from coming up again by treating the underlying depression.

In conversations with clients who have dealt with phases of suicidal constriction, they repeatedly confirmed how happy they were about having ‘survived’ the critical phase once they had stabilized again and how lucky they felt that they didn’t end their life before. Sometimes, they had experienced completely unexpected positive events in the time since their deepest phases of depression, but more generally, their life had taken a positive turn since they had continued with their psychotherapy, an upturn that was not forseeable. “Give life a chance” – this common slogan (that is usually used in a different context) shouldn’t be forgotten especially in the phases of life where it apparently can’t get any lower.  As we know from economic sciences, it is systemically inherent that after a low point, it can only go upwards again. What could be worse in life than a stage in which there doesn’t seem to be any way out other than death? As paradoxical as it may sound, after successfully having weathered the worst hours of a particular night, life will most probably already feel at least an iota better the next morning. Talking to someone (especially one with a person who is professionally trained to assist in difficult phases of life), it is usually possible to develop completely new perspectives, perspectives that can give life a positive turn on a long-term scale.

To avoid being misunderstood: this is certainly not always an easy or quick process – but properly accompanied and instructed, the majority of people succeed at the end.

Further information:

Depression – Mythen und Fakten rund um eine ‘Zeitkrankheit’ (Artikel R.L.Fellner; german language)
Vier Sekunden bis zum Aufprall (NZZ Interview mit Kevin Hines 2009; german)
Lethal Beauty – A jumper [..] makes a new life  (San Francisco Chronicle 2005)
(Blog entry first published in German language (‘Gedanken eines Suizidversuch-Überlebenden’) in 03/2009, published on English website: 12/2011)

Dec 27

Many clients tell me of difficulties finding the right relationship partner. Of course such problems almost always have psychological reasons – in one way or another, these persons sabotaged themselves, they suffer from forms of social anxiety or (in my experience, this is the most common reason) have low self-esteem.

The issues around dating, attraction and sexual attraction have inspired researchers and artists since the beginnings of mankind. Under this – rather ironic – article headline, I will summarize the results of relevant studies and research – and continuously expand and update this collection as soon as there are new findings.

But beware: I’ll not guarantee for the plausibility – or especially success – of any of these hints! 😉

Attractiveness and mate selection

  • “Attractive bodies and faces are symmetrical” – when selecting a partner, we jump on aesthetic impressions indicating a good state of health and fitness, including reproductional capabilities (Source).
  • People with symmetrical physique receive more positive attention when dancing and during mate selection” (source)
  • Women without ideal measurements are stronger, tougher and more resistant to crises” – in Western countries, women with a greater waist-hip ratio than 0.7 are considered to be less attractive than in other world regions, but better prepared for times of crisis (Sources: [1, 2, 3])
  • Estrogen makes women’s faces look more attractive.’ –  during their fertile days, the faces of women obviously look more attractive (Source)
  • Women tend to be selected if they are beautiful, men are more likely to be selected if they act dominantly‘ – this actually refers to political elections, but then, maybe not .. if you consider the other research results mentioned in this blog entry (source)
  • Beauty makes insecure.‘ – this, and that attractive men and women usually find it more difficult to find partners than averagely attractive people, would be a possible conclusion from the so-called ‘sidewalk experiment’ by James Dubbs u. Neil Stokes (‘Beauty is Power: The Use of Space on the Sidewalk’, 1975): on a sidewalk, pedestrians altered their walking direction more often to give space to men rather than for a woman, for 2 people rather than for just 1, and for pretty than for  unattractive women. Their theory was that attractiveness, group size and gender are signals of power which involves territorial claims causing the aforementioned evasive behavior (Source).
  • Other attributes for attractiveness will be judged based on attractiveness of the clothing‘ – attractively dressed subjects were judged as more competent and social than non-attractively-dressed individuals, and, as the researchers suspected, probably as physically more attractive as well (source).
  • Taller men are sexually and socially better off than shorter ones. ‘ – men seem to have their greatest difficulties when dealing with strong, attractive and wealthy competitors, but the taller they are, the less of a role these attributes play in dealing with them. Little men tend to be most jealous. In women, however, the taller and shorter ones are more jealous than the ones of average size. Average-sized women are most shaken by tall and socially dominant rivals just as by other women’s  persuasiveness (link)
  • women prefer older men, older men prefer younger women.’ – a possible explanation for the biological causes of this phenomenon was provided by a study that found that women with a four-year-older partner, and men with a six years younger partner show the greatest reproductive success (source).
  • Man perhaps lost his body hair because it was sexy to the opposite sex.’ – new hope for bald people? (source)
  • Results of an econometric analysis of online dating behavior showed that men who reported that they were in search of a long-term relationship achieved much more success in online dating than those who were merely out on an affair. For men, the appearance of women is of outstanding importance; for women, the man’s income is of utmost importance: the richer the man, the more emails he receives. Income increases the attractiveness of a woman for men as well, but only up to a certain height. [..] Men are attracted by female students, artists, musicians, veterinarians, and celebrities, and they avoid secretaries, retired women and women who work in the military or the police. Women prefer soldiers, policemen and firemen as well as lawyers and financial experts in a management position, but they avoid laborers, actors, students [..]. The data analysis of about 30,000 users also revealed that men have significant drawbacks when they are short. For women, obesity is fatal. That’s probably why many online daters ‘adjust’ these parameters relatively often: male online daters are slightly taller than the average man while the typical female online dater is 10 kg lighter than its real counterpart. In the book Freakonomics in which the results can be read in detail, the authors described their findings, obtained by mathematical methods, as follows: ‘In the world of online dating, a head full of blond hair has about the same worth for a woman as a college degree.’
  • “‘Nasty’ men not only get most women, but also the most beautiful ones.” – in most studies on this subject, these men showed distinctive combinations of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy (Sources: [1], [2], [3])
  • Men should not act as if they were ‘carried away’: uncertainty about the feelings of the opponent increases his/her attractiveness (Source: E. et.al in Whitchurch: “Uncertainty Can Increase Romantic Attraction”, Psychological Science, 01/2011).


Sexuality

  • ‘The mere presence of a woman increases the testosterone levels’ – regardless of her appearance, the testosterone levels in men sitting in the same room as a woman increased by 8% within 300 seconds (Sources: [1],[2])
  • The frequency of female orgasms increases with the income of their partner ‘ – sex with wealthy or powerful men probably feels more exciting by women because it may help to obtain access to wealth and power, or to keep this access up (Sources: [1], [2], [3])
    Addendum 04/2010: a counter study was published that shows different results.
  • The more attractive women consider themselves to be, the greater demands they make on their sexual partners – in men, this correlation doesn’t exist, which could mean that they are less picky or less inclined to enter into permanent relations aiming at reproduction (Sources: [1], [2])
  • (indirect) relationship between voice and sexual activity’ – volunteers with a voice perceived as attractive had about equally long fingers on both hands (reference to the context of attractiveness by symmetry, see above), their first sex at a younger age, more sexual partners and more affairs (Sources: [1], [2])
  • Women respond differently to male body odor.’ – their brains can differ normal male perspiration from perspiration resulting from sexual arousal (Source)
  • Women’s tears put off men and reduce their testosterone level. (Source: Shani Gelstein et.al, “Human tears contain a chemosignal” in: Science 01/2011, DOI: 10.1126/science.1198331)

Family / Children / Fertility

  • ‘Correlation between wealth and reproductive success‘: a British study found higher reproductive success for wealthy men; in women, the number of children declines with increasing education and income (Source)

(First published in German language (‘Wissenschaftliche Aufriss-Tipps’) in 01/2008; continuously updated. Last update: 12/2011)

Dec 08

Women treated for severe psychiatric conditions including major depression shortly after giving birth were more likely to be diagnosed as bipolar later in life compared to those whose first psychiatric episode happened at any other time, in a new study from Denmark.

Researchers said they didn’t know if some postpartum depression or schizophrenia-like episodes were actually misdiagnosed bipolar disorder — or if more women with those initial diagnoses developed bipolar disorder over time.

“We’re looking at severe psychiatric episodes,” said study author Trine Munk-Olsen, from Aarhus University. She noted that while “postpartum blues” are relatively common, severe depression and other acute psychiatric episodes requiring inpatient or outpatient clinic care only occur in about one in 1,000 new moms.

“The severe episodes are rare, but they are serious episodes and of course they should be taken seriously. You want these women to get help, no doubt,” she told Reuters Health.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating swings between severe depression and “mania,” when a person is overly excited, happy and energized. It can be treated with medications including mood stabilizers and talk therapy.

The condition most often manifests in early adulthood, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates six percent of the U.S. population has the disorder at some point in life. Previous studies have suggested giving birth may act as a trigger for a first overt episode of bipolar disorder. But few women are actually diagnosed as bipolar in the weeks after having a baby.

The researchers theorized that a severe psychiatric episode shortly after giving birth could be a signal of underlying bipolar disorder. So they tracked women in Denmark for 15 years after their first psychiatric episode to see whether the timing of that episode — shortly after childbirth or not — predicted who would later get a bipolar diagnosis. Using Danish registries, they found 120,000 women treated in an inpatient hospital or outpatient clinic for their first bout of severe depression or another psychiatric condition starting around 1970. Of those, 2,900 had those episodes within a year after giving birth to their first child. That didn’t include women with an initial diagnosis of bipolar disorder, since the researchers were interested in women with other psychoses that later became bipolar.

Over the next decade and a half, close to 3,100 of all women initially given a different diagnosis were ultimately diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Of women who had their initial psychiatric episode in the first month after giving birth, 14 percent were eventually diagnosed as bipolar. That compared to between four and five percent of women who were first treated in the rest of the year after giving birth or at any other time.

“It is likely that some of the women were misdiagnosed — we cannot rule that out — but it is likely that some of the women develop bipolar over time,” Munk-Olsen said.

The results translate to a four-fold increase in the probability that a severe psychiatric episode in the month after giving birth, versus one that happens at some other time, will ultimately lead to a bipolar diagnosis. Among those with such early postpartum episodes, the patients admitted for inpatient psychiatric treatment were also twice as likely as those treated as outpatients to later be diagnosed as bipolar.

“Clinically these findings make absolute sense,” said Dr. Verinder Sharma, an obstetrician and gynecologist who studies bipolar disorder at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. “We have seen that childbirth is a potent and specific trigger of bipolar disorder.” Sharma, who wasn’t involved in the new study, told Reuters Health that hormone changes that occur during this time, as well as sleep loss, might trigger some women to develop bipolar symptoms, which could be misdiagnosed as depression or an anxiety disorder.

However, he said, there are still many questions about the role that having a baby plays in a woman’s chance of becoming bipolar. “We don’t know whether these women have the illness because of childbirth, and if they didn’t have children they would have gone without any episode of bipolar whatsoever,” he said. The findings also can’t prove that postpartum depression, or giving birth itself, causes bipolar disorder, and the researchers didn’t measure whether less severe, more common postpartum blues are linked to bipolar symptoms.

Still, they wrote Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry that severe psychiatric symptoms which first show up soon after a woman has a baby should be added to the list of features that could increase the risk of bipolar disorder.

Doctors, Munk-Olsen told Reuters Health, should “think about when women have their onset, and you might have an indication that there is an underlying bipolar disorder. We want these women to be diagnosed correctly, in order to help them in the best way.” In particular, Sharma added, doctors who are treating women with new psychiatric symptoms after childbirth should rule out bipolar disorder before they think about simply treating with antidepressants, which could make certain bipolar symptoms worse.

“It’s really important to think about the diagnosis of not just depression but of severe depression and definitely bipolar disorder in new moms who present with a sudden onset of mood symptoms,” agreed Dr. Dorothy Sit, who studies mood disorders in women, including postpartum psychoses, at the University of Pittsburgh and wasn’t involved in the new report.

(Sources: Reuters; Psychiatric Disorders With Postpartum Onset: Possible Early Manifestations of Bipolar Affective Disorders in: Arch Gen Psychiatry. Published online December 5, 2011. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.157. Image credit: drop.ndtv.com)

Dec 08

An interesting study conducted by researchers of the University of Wroclaw has found that people are able to guess a person’s type of personality to a reasonable extent, simply by smelling them, or their clothes. The team did some testing with volunteers, as they describe in their study published in the European Journal of Personality, and found that people could guess another’s personality through odors at least as well as they could when shown videos of people in action.

To find out just how well people can gauge personality types through smelling odors given off by other people’s bodies, the team asked 60 people, half men and half women to wear plain white t-shirts while they slept, for three nights in a row. Each was asked to not use perfumes, soap or deodorants and to not smoke or eat or drink things that affect body odor, such as onions or garlic. Each of the participants were also given personality tests before the t-shirt wearing part of the study began, to asses personality types.

At the end of the three days, the t-shirts were all collected and put into non-clear, labeled plastic bags. Then, two hundred volunteers, half men and half women, were enlisted to sniff the bags and offer their opinions on personality type based on nothing but the odors wafting from the bags. Each volunteer sniffed just six bags to avoid becoming inured presumably and each bag was sniffed by twenty sniffers to get a large enough sample to avoid coincidence.

After all was said and done, those doing the sniffing were able to guess whether the person who had emitted the odor was anxious, outgoing or dominant at least as well as people in a previous study had been able to do watching videos of people interacting with others. Also interesting was that the sniffers were particularly adept at picking up dominate personality types from odors that came from someone of the opposite gender.

While clearly not at a hundred percent, the researchers indicate the study shows that there is something going on regarding how much a person sweats and under what conditions as well as a correlation between the components in sweat and personality traits and that other people are able to pick up on those differences when in their vicinity. Thus, the results are actually two-fold. The first is that people apparently give off personality clues when sweating, and second, that people are able to not only smell the differences in people, but make judgments about them based on what they smell.

(Sources: PhysOrg.com</>; Does Personality Smell? Accuracy of Personality Assessments Based on Body Odour, Article first published online: 12 OCT 2011. DOI: 10.1002/per.848. Image credit: onsugar.com)

Dec 08

Image: WikiCommons licenseAdolescents who were abused and neglected have less gray matter in some areas of the brain than young people who have not been maltreated, a new Yale School of Medicine study shows. The brain areas impacted by maltreatment may differ between boys and girls, may depend on whether the youths had been exposed to abuse or neglect, and may be linked to whether the neglect was physical or emotional.

The results, published in the Dec. 5 issue of the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, show that 42 adolescent subjects who reported being either abused or neglected show a reduction in gray matter — the tissue containing brain cells — even though they had not been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

“Here we have teenagers who may not have a diagnosable illness but still have physical evidence of maltreatment,” said Hilary Blumberg, associate professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Diagnostic Radiology and in the Yale Child Study Center, who is senior author of the study. “This could help to explain their trouble with school performance or increase their vulnerability to depression and behavioral difficulties.”

The reduction of gray matter was seen in prefrontal areas, no matter whether the adolescent had been physically abused or emotionally neglected. However, in other areas of the brain the reductions depended upon the type of maltreatment the youth had experienced. For example, emotional neglect was associated with decreases in areas that regulate emotions.

The researchers also found gender differences in patterns of gray matter decreases. In boys, the reduction tended to be concentrated in areas of the brain associated with impulse control or substance abuse. In girls, the reduction seemed to be in areas of the brain linked to depression.

Blumberg stressed these deficits found in adolescents are likely not to be permanent.

“We have found that the brain, particularly in adolescents, shows a great deal of plasticity,” she said (neuroplasticity; comment by R.L.Fellner). “It is critical to find ways to prevent maltreatment and to help the youths who have been exposed.”

(Source: YaleNews; E. E. Edmiston, F. Wang, C. M. Mazure, J. Guiney, R. Sinha, L. C. Mayes, H. P. Blumberg. Corticostriatal-Limbic Gray Matter Morphology in Adolescents With Self-reported Exposure to Childhood Maltreatment. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2011; 165 (12): 1069 DOI: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.565)

Sep 04

That psychotropic drugs and other psychoactive drugs often have negative effects on behavior, is well-known to most. That their use can cause aggression, is known with antidepressants such as Prozac and Ritalin. However, there haven’t been any systematic examinations of these drugs and drug groups for their impact on violent behavior.

Now, U.S. scientists from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices published a study in the open access journal PLoS One based on data provided by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), in which for 31 of a total of 484 studied drugs they found an unusually strong coincidence with reports of violence against others. This does not mean that these drugs directly cause violence, but there could be a connection.

31 drugs of a total of 464 drugs evaluated were associated with 79 percent of cases of violence during a period of 69 months. This included 11 antidepressants, 3 drugs for the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder/Hyperactivity Syndrome (ADD / ADHD), 5 sedatives and varenicline which is used during smoking cessation. Its active ingredient is sold under the name Champix and has numerous side effects, including suicidal behavior and aggression – therefore, the FDA has recently issued a warning for this substance. The use of varenicline has to be consiedered as highly questionable after this study and is at the top of the list of problematic drugs. One-fifth of the reports of violence were associated with this drug, the tendency to violence is 18 times higher with it than for the other drugs. Bupropion (in Germany acted as Elontril) which is also used for smoking cessation, has a smaller connection to violent behavior, but is primarily used as an antidepressant.

However, there are links to violence with all antidepressants: all ahead is fluoxetine (Prozac) with more than ten times likeliness of violent outbreaks, paroxetine is in third place. With all antidepressants, the connection to violence is 8.4 times more likely than for all other psychoactive drugs. There is also a high probability for amphetamines as Atomexitin (Strattera) and methylphenidate (Ritalin), which are used to treat ADHD and a 9 – and 3.4-fold higher risk of having connection to violence. Of the psychoactive drugs, there is the sleeping drug triazolam (Halcion) with a 8.7-fold and zolpidem with an 6.7-fold increased risk. Among the non-psychoactive drugs was mefloquine (Lariam), which is used for prophylaxis and treatment of malaria, with a 9.5-fold risk.

(Links to research papers and tables: “Medikamente und Gewalt” (German language; in: telepolis 12.01.2011)

Aug 18

A nice friend just sent me a link to this article:

Addiction is a brain disease, experts declare
(Source: L.A. Times, August 16, 2011)

But wait: addiction is now ‘a brain disease‘?!

Well, be warned – here comes a therapist’s viewpoint on that! 😉

The scientific community in the US and Europe is highly influenced (or corrupted?) by the money invested into neuronal and neurochemical research (especially by the pharma and the genetic research industry, but also the American government and the EU for various reasons).

As a result, there are only comparably little funds available for more research on utilizing psychotherapy or even neuroplasticity, because with those becoming more effective, these huge money-maker industries would lose cash and stock value.

That’s why a huge part of this particular scientific community is still seeing us as machines (just like in the 18th and 19th century!), which just need the correct surgery or pill in order to work ‘as intended’ (whatever that is..) again.

The simplified claim that the brain is ‘responsible’ for addiction is actually ridiculous and just possible if such a scientist is wearing blinders, completely blinding out all other research fields related to human behavior. If these theories were right, it would not be possible for patients to successfully stop taking drugs, gambling, over-eating etc. within just 2-3 months during a successful psychotherapy.

But it is.

It would be as if I would announce that I have found prove that ants are only able to crawl because they have legs. Yeah right, but there is a little bit more to ants than just legs.

And even though I would agree that our consciousness, our psyche is at least to a large extent -if not completely- a product of our brain, it would still be incorrect to blank out all the other means this ‘computer’ has to repair itself apart from pills or a scalpel.

Terms Cloud:
06.01.16