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January 7, 2019 by Melanie Newman | The BMJ

Has Cochrane lost its way?

(The BMJ) – Dissent over growing centralisation culminated in the expulsion of one of Cochrane’s founding members. Melanie Newman reports on the organisation’s internal struggles

The dust is not yet settling on Cochrane after it expelled one of its most high profile scientists and founding fathers. Peter Gøtzsche’s sacking and the resignation of four fellow Cochrane board members in protest has been held out by some as a symptom of a wider malaise at the heart of the international network. Cochrane, they say, has lost its way, its members increasingly disenfranchised from a corporate centre focused on income generation and “message control.”

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January 3, 2019 by Beth Greenfield | Yahoo! Lifestyle

In recovery — from antidepressants. How patients are helping each other withdraw.

(Yahoo! Lifestyle) – When Sheila Wojciechowski was 21 years old and fresh out of college, she found that her new job — working at a school for kids with autism — made her feel increasingly depressed and anxious.

“I would go home and cry, and feel like I was no good at the job,” she says now, at 35, of her quick spiral downward. “I slowly became less and less functional. I couldn’t get out of bed.” After seeing several psychotherapists and “not clicking” with any, she was taken by her parents, with whom she lived at the time, to a psychiatrist.

“I went in, and after, like, 10 minutes, he said, ‘Clearly, you have major depression disorder with anxiety disorder,” Wojciechowski, of Queens, N.Y., tells Yahoo Lifestyle. The doctor, who was citing an official diagnosis, then wrote her a prescription for the antidepressant Lexapro, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Sensing her wariness, he asked her, “If you had a headache, wouldn’t you take an Advil?”

To that, Wojciechowski recalls, “I said yes. It made sense, and I tried it — reluctantly. … I knew it was not right from that first pill, but you do what you can with the information you have at the time.”

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January 2, 2019 by David Healy, MD, FRCPsych

Making Medicines Safer for All of US

Editorial Note: Aberystwyth on the West Coast of Wales is one of the best places in the world to see starlings murmurate.  Clive King from the Computer Science Department there also organises TedX talks and  on November 24 convened a panel of speakers to talk about murmurating swallows, ambivalent motherhood and making medicines safer among other things. 

The full set of talks is HERE –  they were all fascinating. Ambivalent Motherhood was compelling.  My talk on making medicines safer – or healthcare climate change – is HERE.  The text is below.

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January 2, 2019 by Helen Garey | Neuroscience News

Hearing Loss Associated with Increased Risk of Depression in Older Adults

Summary: Researchers report age related hearing loss can increase the risk of older adults experiencing symptoms of depression. The study reports those with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to be depressed, and those with server hearing loss were up to four times more likely to suffer depression than those with normal hearing.

Source: Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

A new study found that elderly individuals with age-related hearing loss had more symptoms of depression; the greater the hearing loss, the greater the risk of having depressive symptoms. The findings suggest that treatment of age-related hearing loss, which is underrecognized and undertreated among all elderly, could be one way to head off late-life depression.

The study was published online in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

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January 1, 2019 by Bonnie Kaplan, PhD | Calgary Herald

Good nutrition is more than just food for thought

Re: Bradshaw et al, “Healthiest diets include meat” (Dec. 8, Calgary Herald):

Kudos to the Canadian Clinicians for Therapeutic Nutrition. They described their use of whole-food nutritional strategies to help combat the burden of chronic non-communicable disease in their patients, which they suggested was more important than focusing on meat versus plant-based foods. Their essay was an excellent reminder of why excluding processed foods is the first step toward improved physical health. However, it is also important to draw attention to the value of a whole-foods diet for brain health. Given that at least 20 per cent of our population is now diagnosed with a mental disorder, compared to less than one per cent in 1960, we must not neglect the importance of nutrition “above the neck.”

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December 28, 2018 by Rebecca Troeger |

Researchers Call for Transparency About Limits of Psychiatric Knowledge

A new paper explores how the disputed nature of psychiatric knowledge influences public perceptions and debates within the field of mental health.

( – In an article published recently in Social Theory and Health, Dr. Jeremy Dixon and Dr. Dirk Richter consider the contested nature of psychiatric knowledge and implications for mental health practice. Dixon, of the University of Bath’s Department of Social Policy and Sciences, and Richter, of University Bern Psychiatric Services, argue that practitioners must be open about the “socially constructed state” of the psychiatric canon, and should seek to understand and adapt their approaches to clients’ conceptual frameworks for mental illness (i.e. biomedical, psychosocial, etc.).

“Professional mental health workers need to be transparent about the assumptions and limitations of psychiatric knowledge and base therapeutic decisions around the way in which service users and carers construct mental disorder,” the authors write.

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December 28, 2018 by Sandra Steingard, MD | Springer

Critical Psychiatry Controversies and Clinical Implications

The only current guide to critical psychiatry designed for mental health physicians

About the Book
This book is a guide for psychiatrists struggling to incorporate transformational strategies into their clinical work.  The book begins with an overview of the concept of critical psychiatry before focusing its analytic lens on the DSM diagnostic system, the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, the crucial distinction between drug-centered and disease-centered approaches to pharmacotherapy, the concept of “de-prescribing,” coercion in psychiatric practice, and a range of other issues that constitute the targets of contemporary critiques of psychiatric theory and practice.  Written by experts in each topic, this is the first book to explicate what has come to be called critical psychiatry from an unbiased and clinically relevant perspective.

Critical Psychiatry is an excellent, practical resource for clinicians seeking a solid foundation in the contemporary controversies within the field. General and forensic psychiatrists; family physicians, internists, and pediatricians who treat psychiatric patients; and mental health clinicians outside of medicine will all benefit from its conceptual insights and concrete advice.



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December 27, 2018 by Jamie Doward | The Guardian

‘She was unrecognisable’ – families warn of antipsychotic drug effects

Coroners urge health secretary to ensure that clozapine, linked to two deaths, does not claim more lives

(The Guardian) – The health secretary is under pressure to respond to growing concerns about the use of a controversial antipsychotic drug linked to deaths of psychiatric patients. Following claims by family members that two people died after being prescribed clozapine, coroners have written to Matt Hancock asking how he intends to ensure the drug does not claim more lives.

Julia MacPherson, 54, died while under the care of Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust in May 2016 after being put on a trial of clozapine, even though she did not have psychosis and begged not to be put on the medication. MacPherson had addiction problems, borderline personality disorder and was distraught after her marriage ended, but her family was shocked at the drug’s side-effects.

“She looked different, sounded different, had lost her sense of humour, cognitive function, coordination; she couldn’t eat properly, dress or wash. It was horrendous to see,” said her sister, Sarah MacPherson. “She was an attractive, intelligent person but on clozapine she was unrecognisable.”

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December 24, 2018 by Hannah Dellabella |

Nutrition Meets Science in Culinary Medicine Curriculum

( – Despite the important role diet plays in patient health, many physicians lack training in the area of nutrition. Culinary medicine, an emerging field in medical education, is looking to change that.

Culinary medicine is “a new evidence-based field in medicine that blends the art of food and cooking with the science of medicine.”1,2Put simply, culinary medicine aims to teach people how to cook while also teaching them about nutrition. As participants learn how to prepare food, they also learn how different foods affect the body.

For physicians, culinary medicine can help fill gaps in knowledge about nutrition. Many physicians never receive robust training in nutrition, which can make it difficult or impossible to answer patients’ diet-related questions. Because many conditions have a significant dietary component, physicians with more nutrition knowledge can help better treat patients with conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

For patients, culinary medicine allows them to take control of their health through food. Food is person-specific: a diet that works for one person will not be the best diet for everyone. Through culinary medicine, both healthy patients and patients with chronic conditions can cook high-quality meals that can improve their well-being.

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December 24, 2018 by Consumer Reports | The Washington Post

Depression may be a side effect of some common drugs, including ones for acid reflux and hypertension

(The Washington Post) – All medications have the potential to cause unwanted side effects, and depression is among them. One-third of Americans are now taking meds that can cause this mood disorder, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in June. Other research has had similar findings, but this is the largest review on the topic to date.

The study authors found that about 200 prescription drugs, including some often used by older adults — such as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) to treat acid reflux and beta blockers for hypertension — can lead to depression.

But doctors may not know this. “Many physicians may not be aware that several commonly prescribed medications are associated with an increased risk of this disorder,” says study author Mark Olfson, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York.

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The contents of this Headlines page are provided for informational purposes. Any material, conclusions, or opinions presented in the linked articles are not necessarily endorsed by the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care.