Harm Reduction

Reducing the Harm of Substances in Your Life: A Harm Reduction Approach Have you noticed that your substance use is impacting your mood, relationships, or work? Are you looking to reduce the negative impact substances are playing in your life? Harm Reduction methods can be useful in exploring ways to prevent harm and reduce risks in your life caused by …

4 Ways You Can Help a Loved One Cope with Addiction and Mental Illness

Mental illness and addiction co-occur more than some people may think. People with a mental illness are more likely to abuse substances while those with addictions are likely to either develop the symptoms of a mental illness or a full-blown mental illness. If there is someone in your life struggling with these two problems here are a few ways you …

Does Psychiatric Treatment Work?

How well do psychiatric treatments work? Aren’t psychiatric medications just placebos? Does psychotherapy really do anything? These are the kind of questions that mental health clinicians run into all the time. Dr. Maximilian Huhn and colleagues from the Munich Technical Institute (Huhn – reference 1) have conducted a major review of the data. They evaluated results from 852 clinical trials involving …

Mindfulness Based Substance Abuse Treatment Works

Relapse is common after substance abuse treatment, indicating that there is a clear need for effective followup options. A new study has found that cognitive-behavioral relapse prevention (RP) and mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) are both effective aftercare interventions for substance abuse treatment, but that the latter may have an especially enduring effect as far as reducing drug-use days and heavy …

“Hitting Bottom” and Substance Abuse Recovery

I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about the idea that sometimes, an alcohol or substance abuser needs to “hit bottom” before they can get well. For one thing, there aren’t that many people in our practice who have decided to stop drinking or using drugs as a result of a classic “hitting bottom” experience. For another thing, the whole idea …

ADHD Increases Traffic Accidents

Psychiatry News Alert, a service of the American Psychiatric Association that is the source of a number of these posts, reports that a large study finds that people with adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have an increased risk of serious traffic accidents—those leading to injury or death. The study was recently published in JAMA Psychiatry, and was led by Zheng Chang, Ph.D., …

Long Term Antipsychotics – Adverse Effects on Brain?

This post is a bit off topic. I have tried to not focus on medication issues in this blog on the grounds that there are many, many websites that talk about medications and very little else. However one of the blog’s most loyal readers sent in an email about long term antipsychotic medications and potential adverse effects on brain function …

Do Maternal Antidepressants (SRI’s) Cause Autism in Their Children?

Maternal Antidepressants. Two studies have suggested a link between prenatal exposure to antidepressant medication and autism spectrum disorders.  We are pleased to learn: that does not appear to be the case! Not surprisingly, the studies mentioned above received a lot of attention and created a lot of concern for women taking antidepressant medications, and their partners, who planned to have …

Herbal Supplements Often Not What They Claim

A recent study concluded that herbal supplements are often not what they claim to be. The study was published in the journal BMC Medicine and it got front-page coverage on the New York Times website. Using DNA analysis, researchers tested 44 products from a dozen companies. The DNA signatures were compared with samples obtained from horticultural greenhouses. The study was summarized in the New …

Antidepressants Help You Focus on the Positive

I am always interested in articles that help us understand how medications work, and perhaps how the brain functions in different mood states. Today I got a copy of a pre-publication article from the American Journal of Psychiatry that confirms other research about antidepressants – antidepressants work, at least in part, by helping us to shift from negative information to positive …

Dual Treatment: Medications and Therapy Work Together to Treat Depression

A review in the prestigious journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests that there may be a clear biological explanation of how medications and psychotherapy work together to treat depression. The authors note that recent, unexpected, research findings suggest that antidepressant medications reactivate the brain’s ability to relearn old lessons. The medications allow the brain to modify old neuron connections in a way …

Therapy or Medications for Depression?

A new study published in the most prestigious psychiatric journal (JAMA Psychiatry – see reference below) strongly suggests that a brain scan might be able to help people decide whether therapy or medications are more likely to treat their depression. As background, although some people feel that for more severe depression medications are more effective, the fact is that most …

Memory, Stress and Aging

Many older people are concerned about impaired memory, and the relationship between memory, stress, and aging can be difficult to untangle. Obviously worry about memory problems can be a source of anxiety and stress. But can stress and anxiety be a cause of memory problems? And if so what can be done about it? Elsewhere we will be talking about …

Trojan Horse Medications

From time to time we are asked to review the care that people with cycling moods have received, trying to figure out, from a complicated story of medication changes and mood cycles, what to do to get someone out of a period of deep pain and dysfunction. A few years ago I did such a review on a young man …

Compulsions, Addictions and Secrecy

I got an urgent call yesterday from somebody that I’ve been seeing for several years.  His fiancee had just left him.  They had been having problems for several months, problems mostly rooted in his ambivalence about commitment.  She went on his cell phone and found evidence that he had been having flirtatious conversations with seven different woman over the last …

Drug Companies

This blog has mostly not dealt with questions related to medications for treating mood disorders.  When we looked around to see what was out there on the Internet, it seemed to us that there was no dearth of information about medications.  The problem was finding reliable information about non-medication approaches to living with moods. This morning I met with an …