Archives for Medications
A colleague of mine (Dr. David Antonuccio) recently co-authored an article that he believes will be received with enthusiasm similar to that sparked by an army of fire ants at a picnic. In other words, he expects a lot of opposition and push back. But what would a serious academic like Dr. Antonuccio write that could evoke such a response?
Like most professionals, states require psychologists to keep up with current research through continuing education. Yesterday, I attended a lecture on the differential diagnosis of ADHD and or Bipolar disorder in kids. Not surprisingly, the water is muddied by the similarity of some of the symptoms and the fact that most kids with Bipolar Disorder have other problems such as ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Opposition Defiant Disorder, among others. Another problem the presenters mentioned was that today there are 40 times more kids diagnosed as bipolar than in the mid-1990’s. Thus, the presenters raised the questions as to whether we are seeing more kids with bipolar, are we better at spotting this diagnosis, or are we over-diagnosing kids with bipolar disorder? Additionally there are troubling concerns that only a few research teams are responsible for most of the research on this topic.
You’ve read about the ongoing controversy over the effectiveness of antidepressant medications. Luminary psychologists such as Dr. Robert DeRubeis and Dr. Irving Kirsch have made persuasive arguments supporting the idea that most, if not all, of the effectiveness of antidepressant medication appears to be due to the so-called placebo effect. In other words, their analysis of studies has led them to conclude that when patients improve on antidepressant medication, that most of that improvement is readily chalked up to the expectations of improvement that come when people take a pill they believe will improve their symptoms.
It’s spring in New Mexico. We’ll have some days of high winds, but for the most part, cold weather is gone for the season. People are starting to wear shorts and flip-flops, the costume of the summer trudger. I have a cold. It started last week and lingered as spring colds usually do. I’m better, down to sporadic coughing fits, nose blowing, dragging, and the spacey feeling that colds often leave you with. Somehow I think that more than anything colds consume creativity and cognitive attention. They leave me with little ability to plan ahead, organize, resist temptations, set goals, make decisions, or even write for that matter. Just ask my husband; he had to come in and save the first draft of this rambling missive. I don’t care. Colds do that to you--they make you a hopeless, inefficient, hesitant, straggler. And everyone here in the Albuquerque area seems to have one.
Information flows around the world in a manner of seconds--it's amazing! We all watched last week when peaceful demonstrations, facilitated by social media, helped to topple a corrupt and oppressive government. So, what does this have to do with children and treatment? Like many mental health professionals, the internet has given us opportunities to keep up with a variety of current issues, research studies, and trends in our field. Instead of trying to keep up with 3 or 4 journals a month, we have access to just about any published article, sometimes before it is even published. When I started college many years ago, a literature search involved long hours combing through guides to periodic literature. Today a literature review involves going to an online library and reading about topics of interest from peer reviewed journals not just in English, but translated text from all over the world.
We just got back from teaching in Santa Barbara California. The temperatures were in the upper 60’s to lower 70’s and the sun was shining every day. It was a nice break from the cold weather we’d been experiencing in New Mexico. While away, I was asked to spend a week answering questions about seasonal affective disorder on a web site called cafemom (www.cafemom.com). Cafemom is a community of mothers who chat, share information, and support each other. I agreed, thinking that there would be very few questions. I was wrong. The interest in SAD appears to be rather huge, especially at the end of January.
This holiday season we had a visitor from out of town who was puzzled by a new fear of turbulence during his recent flights. This young man had been a frequent flyer all of his life. He said that he had never experienced any fear until this past year. He described feelings of panic and a racing heart beat when the plane hit turbulence. Since we have written extensively about anxiety, panic, and fear of flying, he asked us what he should do about the problem.
Our colleague, Ken Pope passes along articles of interest to a large list of professionals. One of the articles he recently sent was titled “Psychological intervention provides enduring health benefits for women with breast cancer.” The article was quite interesting and contained findings, that if replicated, could be extremely important and promising to women diagnosed with breast cancer. The authors indicated that women receiving psychological intervention for stress reduction reported reduced stress and improvements in emotional distress as compared to those who did not receive the intervention.
Obsessions are unwanted thoughts, images or impulses (such as that doorknob is contaminated or I think I might have left the stove on). Compulsions are the rituals or actions that a person performs in order to reduce the feelings of anxiety or distress caused by the obsession (like washing hands repeatedly, or checking to be sure the stove is off over and over again). People with OCD suffer. They often have trouble getting through day to day responsibilities, keeping healthy relationships, or enjoying life. Our best friends, dogs, can also suffer from OCD. The cause of OCD in animals, like people, is thought to involve genetics, environments, and sometimes illness. A dog with OCD may be genetically predisposed to the disorder. The pet could be stressed by separation anxiety, or bored. Occasionally, an illness can cause an animal to show signs of OCD. Pets with OCD show repetitive behaviors that seem to have no purpose. These behaviors can lead to infections, poisonings, obstructions, and very annoyed owners. Most animals do these things from time to time (especially when young, bored or anxious). But dogs with OCD do these behaviors over and over and over again. Common OCD behaviors include: Tail chasing Licking Scratching Barking at nothing Running after lights or shadows Eating or chewing (after puppyhood)