Medications Articles

World Mental Health Day: A Patient Bill of Rights for Psychotropic Medications

Monday, October 10th, 2011

a pile of pillsA 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?

Pediatric Bipolar Disorder, Temper Dysregulation Disorder, and Medicating Kids

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

car in the upper giLike 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.

The Antidepressant Controversy: What Does it Mean For You?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

antidepressant controversy 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.

Colds, Flu and Spring

Monday, March 7th, 2011

I have a coldIt’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.

Treating Children with Depression or Anxiety

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

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.

The Dark Days of Winter Got You Down? Seasonal Affective Disorder

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

SAD: Seasonal Affective DisorderWe 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 ( 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.

Flying Fears During the Holidays

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Lots of people find themselves flying over the holidays and experience fear and panic. This blog tells you what that fear is about and what can be done about it.

Surprisingly Effective Breast Cancer Treatment: If Only it Were a Drug

Monday, June 14th, 2010

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.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Our Best Friends

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

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)

Anxiety and Sleep

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

I’t’s 4 am, I’m awake. I hope that I can go back to sleep. . . . Did I remember to get the coffee ready?  I hope the traffic won’t be so bad tomorrow night, last night it took me an hour to get home. I’ve got to decide about whether or not I’ll keep the consulting job. Geez, one of us has to write a blog tomorrow, we’ve been putting that off.  I wonder whether I can fit in the gym tonight. I have to remember to take out the trash before I leave. I have to stop thinking . . . I need sleep. Okay, I’ll try to concentrate on my breathing. Breathe in to the count of eight and then let it out slowly and then in. . . I have way too much to do tommorow….breathe in 1,2,3,3,4,5,6,7,8…….

Sound familiar? More and more people complain about poor sleep. The sale of prescriptions for sleep aids and over-the-counter solutions continue to skyrocket. One reason behind this pandemic is likely the modern lifestyle. We don’t fall into bed exhausted after spending the day doing physical labor on the farm or at the factory.

People generally need about eight hours of sleep per night. The real gauge as to whether you’re getting enough sleep is how you feel during the daytime, not the exact number of hours you get. In any case, anxiety frequently disrupts sleep, and a lack of sleep can increase your anxiety. The following list describes the most common sleep disturbances.

  • Insomnia, by far the most common sleep problem, may be the result of anxiety, depression, stress, poor sleep habits, discomfort, or an inadequate sleeping environment such as living in a noisy apartment building or sleeping on a lumpy mattress. Insomniacs have difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep.
  • Hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy and menopause can cause physical discomfort and changes in bodily temperature that interrupt sleep.
  • Jet lag or shift work can disrupt normal sleep patterns. People have a biological clock or rhythm that likes to stay on a regular schedule. Those who have to switch sleep schedules due to travel or work may have difficult …

Anxiety & OCD Exposed

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Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. are authors of many books, including Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies and Child Psychology & Development for Dummies.

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