Archives for May, 2012
(Scroll down to take the test.) Can your smartphone tell you if you have a mood or anxiety disorder? Apparently a new tool called What's My M3, can. (There's one for clinicians called M3 Clinician.) Our only surprise is that we're not surprised! One of the developers of the M3 psychiatrist Robert Post, who's the former chief of biological psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health, told USA Today, that "many of those in need of treatment are seen in a primary care setting, yet their emotional health "never really comes up for discussion" and goes untreated." He believes the new tool, which you can test out online, for free, can help individuals and clinicians assess whether mental illness may be an issue. It contains 27 screening questions, which, if answered honestly, could give a generally accurate assessment. What does it test for? Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and PTSD.
C.R. writes: I've been reading a lot of 12-Step literature (and for the past several years, doing a crash-course with Richard and a couple of people in recovery from addiction and mental illness). The reason? We want to take our book on addiction, the one we told you about a few years ago, to the next level. What I've found (and this isn't exactly news, though it might have been to me), is that 12-Step wisdom, especially the old-school AA variety, is consonant with Jewish teachings, especially Jewish mysticism. So is recovery. And, it could all begin with an inner song. An 18th century Jewish mystic told his students that one of the biggest problems people had was that they didn't believe in themselves. He predicted that the problem wouldn't go away for generations. The mystic's name was Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and though his lessons were mostly heard by a tiny minority within a tiny minority (far less than .2 percent of the world's population), many of his teachings have slipped into the Universal subconscious. After all, the Rebbe's teachings rest, in part, on the wisdom of Kabbalah, and are rooted in its ancient context. The Rebbe wanted his teachings to help people reach their own personal best, but his idea of personal best was a bit different than the one we generally think of.
"After much thought, I have come to the formulation that autism may be most comprehensively understood and helped through an inclusive whole-body systems approach, where genes and environment are understood to interplay."—Dr. Martha Herbert C.R. writes: Last summer we blogged about a true heroine, a mom named Kathleen who refused to accept the words of the experts who told her that her son most likely would never be free from his autism symptoms. Kathleen's powerful discoveries, about the power of diet and environment, maybe aren't new, but she took them to the nth degree with her determination, hard work and inspiration from her deeply held faith. She used her home-spun wisdom (and serious smarts) to play "investigative autism researcher." She tried minor and then major dietary and environmental changes in order to help her son. During her time with Therapy Soup, she introduced us to the research and practice of Dr. Martha Herbert, a pediatric neurologist and an expert in the treatment of autism. Dr. Herbert views autism as a“dynamic encephalopathy” (something that can change) rather than a “static encephalopathy” (something that is fixed for life). She deeply explores how vulnerabilities to the environment affect brain and body health. She has a holistic, whole-body and brain function outlook and is one of those rare and wonderful doctors who respects the intuitive knowledge and practical experience of mothers and fathers. In essence, she teams with her patients' parents and makes them a real part of their child's treatment team. She even drafts them into being part of a personalized research team.
Judy Prescott and Her Mother, Cecy Important Update: This morning, we received news that Cecy passed away a few days ago. We extend our sympathies to Judy and her extended family. C.R. writes: In Judy Prescott's book, Searching For Cecy the poet-actress takes the reader on a sad, sweet, but ultimately uplifting journey through eight years of her mother Cecy's life with Alzheimer's. The gift of great acting involves, among other things, taking another's words and story, bringing it to life with voice, body and heart, in order to touch an audience. The L.A-based actress does something I've found to be rare for actors—she digs deep into herself and pulls out her own, honest words in order to share her love (and grief) with the reader, as well as to create a tribute to her much-loved mother.
Today's PsychCentral report that mothers who are sensitive to gluten have a higher incidence of children born with schizophrenia is not surprising. For many years, holistic therapists, physicians, and others have noticed correlations between gluten, milk and sugar consumption (and allergies and/or intolerance) and schizophrenia and other brain conditions, including autism. In this study from a 1988 issue of "Schizophrenia Bulletin," Dr. F. Curtis Dohan noticed that a large number (over 50 times the norm) of schizophrenics had celiac disease. He also noticed that there was a lower incidence of schizophrenia where consumption of dairy and wheat and other gluten-containing grains, was low. Both gluten (grain protein) and casein (milk protein) are thought by some to be responsible for the disease. As scientists learn more and more about the brain-gut connection, they are better able to understand the link between what's going on in our digestive tract and how it affects our brain function.
C.R. writes: I love jelly beans. They are my favorite candy, pretty much. They look like jewels, they have the most awesome texture, and they taste great. But I never buy them (well, maybe once a year) because I don't feel well when I eat sugar and am easily addicted to it. A few months ago I got a gift basket containing jelly beans, and I threw them out! If only I had known... I wanted to share some silly, happy-making stuff with you: Jelly Bean Art. A friend from Taos, New Mexico sent me this link to Kristen Cumings's web site.
Therapy Soup once again welcomes Dr. Harold Koplewicz, leading advocate for children's mental health: Dear Friends, This is it: This week is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and we want to make as big a noise as we can, letting as many people as possible know that we think kids' mental health is as important as their physical health. I hope you'll join us in making our voices heard, to counter the misinformation and stigma that prevent so many kids from getting the help they need. The message we want you to help send is that kids who are struggling should get help before their impulsivity becomes dangerous, before their anxiety becomes crippling, before their failure in school makes them decide they're stupid, before their disruptive behavior gets them in serious trouble.
As part of our series on National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (May 6-12) we’ve been posting interviews and information about children and mental health. Today, we’re posting a brief interview on anxiety in children with Jerome Bubrick, PhD, of the Child Mind Institute. Dr. Bubrick is a nationally renowned cognitive and behavioral psychologist who's a dedicated advocate for children and their families, Dr. Bubrick is a significant public voice educating parents and teachers about the fear at the roots of anxiety—and how it’s effectively treated. Welcome, Dr. Bubrick. How do anxiety disorders affect children differently than adults? Sometimes the symptoms of an anxiety disorder are the same, but they might affect children and adults in different ways. For example, adults are more likely to understand and articulate their anxiety, while younger children often lack that insight. Their anxiety might make them do certain things, like line things up in a superstitious way, but they won’t know why. Kids also tend to have more disruptive behavior because of their anxiety. Teens and adults are more likely to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.