No more shocks? Study shows drug treatment for major depression just as effective as electroconvulsive therapy

By Gretchen Cuda Kroen: Complete Post through this link…

The anesthetic drug ketamine is at least as effective as electroconvulsive therapy for treating major depression and has fewer side effects, a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine reported.

More than 21 million adults in the US are estimated to suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. For those whose depression fails to respond to anti-depressive drugs, ECT, which involves inducing a seizure via electrical stimulation of the brain, is one of the few treatments that can provide life-changing relief.

The clinical trial of 403 patientsis the largest study ever done comparing ketamine and ECT treatments for depression that has ever been done, and the only one that also measured impacts to memory, Anand said.

The trial, conducted overfiveyears across multiple institutions including the Cleveland Clinic, compared the outcomes of patients selected at random to either receive ECT three times per week or ketamine twice per week for three weeks. Following treatment, patients answered questions about their depressive symptoms and quality of life, along with a battery of memory tests for the next six months.

Investigators found that 55% of patients who received ketamine and 41% who received ECT reported at least a 50% improvement in their self-reported depressive symptoms and quality of life that lasted at least six-months and concluded that treatments with ketamine were as effective as ECT.

Polypharmacy Killed My Son. He’s Not Alone

BY ANDREA SONNENBERG: Complete Post through this link…

Five years ago, my 21-year-old son Bradley died of psychiatric drug interactions, after years of battling anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder. In most respects, Bradley was very much like many kids you know. He was funny, smart, and talented, constantly making people laugh with goofy impersonations, and starring in school plays and musicals. We—me, my husband, and Bradley’s siblings—deeply supported him in his challenges with mental health. He had access to the best healthcare available. But despite his privilege, we couldn’t save him.

At the time of his death, Bradley was taking a cocktail of medications prescribed by respected doctors. Bradley died unexpectedly in his sleep because of a practice called polypharmacy—the layering of multiple medications on top of one another, often without regard to what other doctors have already prescribed or the potential interactions between the drugs.

It is not uncommon for patients to receive psychiatric medication without being evaluated by a mental-health professional. Often, a primary-care physician will prescribe an antidepressant without considering various other evidence-based treatments that may be more effective and without possible side effects. There are also the financial incentives, whereby insurance companies are more inclined to pay for medications than therapy, and at a higher reimbursement rate. That’s not to say that medications can’t be helpful; often they are critical to treatment and produce miraculous results. But many medications come with serious side effects. When many medications are taken together, they can cause harmful drug interactions. Plus, there is the risk of taking the wrong dosage, either too high or too low, which can lead to potential withdrawal symptoms or accidental overdose.

Advocacy Pays Off Now That Full Senate Will Consider Safe Step Act

From PHA: Complete Post through this link…

Thanks to advocacy efforts by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) and others, the Safe Step Act moves to the full Senate floor for the first time.

“This is a huge step in the legislative process,” says PHA President and CEO Matt Granato. “While there is more work ahead before this bill becomes law, PHA celebrates this milestone achievement, which wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless efforts of PHA advocates and the amazing PHA advocacy staff.”

Those who advocated for the legislation include people with pulmonary hypertension, caregivers and health care professionals, as well as other patient organizations.

The Safe Step Act aims to limit step-therapy requirements for people with pulmonary hypertension (PH) and other life-threatening conditions. Step therapy refers to insurance company policies that require people to try less expensive treatments than those their doctors prescribe. The insurance companies  authorize prescribed treatment only after the less expensive treatment fails.

Congress introduced the Safe Step in 2017, but this is the first time legislation has moved beyond committee. That means all members of the Senate will be able to review and eventually vote on the bill. The next step is for advocates to convince the House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce to send its version of the bill to full House floor. Both the House and Senate must approve a bill before it can become law.

Chronic Pain Incidence Is High in the U.S.

by Judy George: Complete Post through this link…

New cases occur more frequently than other conditions, and often persist.

New cases of chronic pain — defined as pain experienced on most days or every day over 3 months — occurred more frequently than new cases of other common chronic conditions, U.S. survey data showed.

Chronic pain incidence was 52.4 cases per 1,000 person-years, reported Richard Nahin, MPH, PhD, of the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, and co-authors.

This was higher than the incidence of diabetes (7.1 cases/1,000 person-years), depression (15.9 cases), and hypertension (45.3 cases), the researchers said in JAMA Network Openopens in a new tab or window.

Moreover, chronic pain was persistent: nearly two-thirds (61.4%) of adults with chronic pain in 2019 continued to have it in 2020.

The findings come from National Health Interview Survey (NHISopens in a new tab or window) data and are the first nationwide estimates of chronic pain incidence.

Recent NHIS data showed the prevalence of chronic painopens in a new tab or window in the U.S. was about 21%, affecting an estimated 51.6 million adults. High-impact chronic pain — pain severe enough to restrict daily activities — affected 17.1 million people.

“Understanding incidence, beyond overall prevalence, is critical to understanding how chronic pain manifests and evolves over time,” Nahin said in a statement. “These data on pain progression stress the need for increased use of multimodal, multidisciplinary interventions able to change the course of pain and improve outcomes for people.”

‘A System in Crisis’: Dysfunctional Federal Disability Programs force the Poor to pass up money

By Fred Clasen-Kelly: Complete Post through this link…

Brenda Powell had suffered a stroke and was in debilitating pain when she called the Social Security Administration last year to seek disability benefits.

The former Louisiana state office worker struggled at times to write her name or carry a glass of water. Powell, then 62, believed she could no longer work, and she was worried about how to pay for medical care with only a $433 monthly pension.

Although the Social Security Administration agreed that Powell’s condition limited the work she could do, the agency rejected her initial application for Supplemental Security Income. She had the choice to appeal that decision, which could take months or years to resolve, or take early retirement. The latter option would give her $302 a month now but might permanently reduce the full Social Security retirement payment she would be eligible for at age 66 and 10 months.

“I didn’t know what to do. These decisions are not easy,” said Powell, who lives in Alexandria, Louisiana, about 200 miles northwest of New Orleans. She decided to appeal the decision but take early retirement in the meantime.

“I had to have more money to pay my bills,” she said. “I had nothing left over for gas.”

Risk of Parkinson Disease Among Service Members at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

By Samuel M. Goldman. et al.: Complete Post through this link…

Key Points

Question  Is Parkinson disease risk increased in military service members who were stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, during 1975-1985 when the water supply was contaminated with trichloroethylene and other volatile organic compounds?

Findings  This cohort study of 340 489 service members found that the risk of Parkinson disease was 70% higher in Camp Lejeune veterans compared with veterans stationed at a Marine Corps base where water was not contaminated. In veterans without Parkinson disease, risk was also significantly higher for several prodromal features of Parkinson disease.

Meaning  The study’s findings suggest that exposure to trichloroethylene in water may increase the risk of Parkinson disease; millions worldwide have been and continue to be exposed to this ubiquitous environmental contaminant.

Brain Activity Reveals Chronic Pain Signatures

From Neuroscience News: Complete Post through this link…

Summary: Researchers successfully recorded data directly from the brains of individuals suffering from chronic pain caused by stroke or amputation. This milestone, accomplished using machine learning tools, identified specific brain regions and biomarkers associated with chronic pain.

The findings mark a significant stride towards devising novel methods for monitoring and treating chronic pain. This research is expected to inform future deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapies and guide the search for non-addictive chronic pain treatments.

Key Facts:

  1. This is the first study to record chronic pain-related data directly from the brain, identifying an area of the brain associated with chronic pain.
  2. The researchers utilized machine learning tools to analyze the recorded data, offering new insights into the brain’s representation of pain.
  3. The findings are expected to guide future therapies, particularly deep brain stimulation (DBS), and contribute to the development of non-addictive treatments for chronic pain.

Psychiatric Detentions Rise 120% in First Year of 988

By Rob Wipond: Complete Post through this link…

As contacts to the new 988 hotline number have risen, so have call tracing and police interventions.

The rapid growth of the new 988 mental health hotline has been greeted with positive media coverage. As many people expected, calls, texts, and chats to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, now renamed “988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline,” started climbing immediately with the launch of the 988 number in July of 2022. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the nonprofit that was given centralized control over the 988 system, Vibrant Emotional Health (VEH), have been releasing monthly updates on key metrics.

In April 2023, compared to April 2022, calls answered increased by 52%, chats by 90%, and texts by 1022%. The trend was heralded by federal Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to CNN: “Our nation’s transition to 988 moves us closer to better serving the crisis care needs of people across America. 988 is more than a number, it’s a message: we’re there for you.”

However, as previously reported by Mad in America, a percentage of people who contacted the former National Suicide Prevention Lifeline were subjected to geolocation tracing of their phone, computer, or mobile device. The Lifeline advertised itself as a place for confidential discussions about suicidal feelings but, according to its own policy, if a call-attendant believed a person might be at “imminent risk” of taking their own life in the next few hours, days, or week, the call-attendant was required to contact 911 or a Public Safety Answering Point to send out police and/or an ambulance to forcibly take the person to a psychiatric hospital.

Many Lifeline users described the experiences of betrayal, public exposure, police interactions, loss of freedoms, and forced psychiatric treatment as dangerous, harmful and traumatizing.

So, since the transition to 988, has anything changed? As contacts to 988 rise, how many people are getting forcibly subjected to these types of unexpected, unwanted interventions?

It appears detention numbers are climbing dramatically, too—even as VEH, SAMHSA, and many news outlets continue to obfuscate the facts publicly.

Contacts and Detentions Rising Together

For the ten-month period from July 2022 to April 2023, the new 988 Lifeline received more than 4 million total contacts—on pace to double the average 2.4 million calls annually to the Lifeline from 2017 to 2021.

The 988 metrics that are publicly shared, though, do not include any information about call tracing and involuntary interventions.

Teen Bullying Solutions: Help for Neurodivergent Adolescents

From ADDitude: Complete Post through this link…

EXPERT: Rosanna Breaux, Ph.D.
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, June 6 @ 1pm EDT
(12pm CDT; 11am MDT; 10am PDT)  |  Find it in your time zone > This webinar will be recorded. Register now and we’ll reserve you a spot (even if you can’t attend live) AND email you the replay link »
. . . . .
Adolescents with ADHD are more likely to experience bullying for a variety of reasons, including missing social cues, academic struggles, poor impulse control, and having difficulty making friends — and the effects of bullying can be devastating. Adolescents who are bullied experience negative mental health outcomes, including depression and anxiety, that can last into adulthood.

In this webinar, you will learn about:Research suggesting adolescents with ADHD are more likely to experience bullyingPredictors of bullyingHow to identify the signs of bullyingStrategies to prevent further bullyingApproaches to use if your child is the bully

A Letter Urging the Reissue of the FDA’s Ban on Electrical Stimulation Devices

From ASAN: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Dear Secretary Becerra, Commissioner Califf, and General Counsel Bagenstos

We the undersigned write to urge the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to reissue its ban of electrical stimulation devices (ESDs) used to treat self-injurious or aggressive behavior. In 2020 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of these devices as aversive therapy, a well-reasoned position that is consistent with the overwhelming weight of the scientific literature and treatment practices across the country. Unfortunately, FDA’s proposed ban was reversed1 on a technicality related to the FDA’s regulatory authority. However, Congress has recently clarified the FDA’s authority to issue such a ban.2

For two years since the FDA’s original ban on these devices was overturned by the courts, -eight years after a panel of experts recommended that they be banned- children and adults with disabilities have continued to suffer from Congress affirmed that the FDA has the authority to do so. The medical evidence that this is an ineffective and harmful intervention is clear. When the FDA’s judgment was questioned, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the National Association for the Dually Diagnosed, the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services, and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education all agreed that the evidence supported an ESD ban. As Manfred Nowak, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, has bluntly3 stated: “This is torture.”4

On April 22, 2016, the FDA announced that it had determined that these devices present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury that cannot be corrected or eliminated by labeling. This followed outcry from concerned members of the public and advocacy organizations dating back more than 13 years to our first outreach in March 2010. As the FDA found, use of these devices

Present[s] a number of psychological and physical risks: Depression, fear, escape and avoidance behaviors, panic, aggression, substitution of other behaviors (e.g., freezing and catatonic sit-down), worsening of underlying symptoms (e.g., increased frequency or bursts of self-injury), pain, burns, tissue damage, and errant shocks from device misapplication or failure. Based on literature for implantable cardioverter defibrillators, FDA has determined that ESDs present the risks of posttraumatic stress or acute stress disorders, shock stress reaction, and learned helplessness.That literature provides additional support for the risks of depression, anxiety, fear, and pain. Experts in the field of behavioral science, State agencies that regulate the use of ESDs, the sole current manufacturer and user of ESDs, and individuals who were subject to ESDs corroborate most of these findings, and they attest to additional risks. 5

We were pleased that the FDA agreed with what the United Nations, disability advocates, researchers, psychiatrists and psychologists, families and people with disabilities have long known – these are devices of torture and abuse. 

The FDA is mandated to protect the health and safety of these individuals and must not delay further. In the years since this issue was first raised with the FDA, many vulnerable people with disabilities were subjected to electric shocks for behaviors such as getting out of one’s seat, interrupting, whispering, slouching, swearing, or failing to maintain a neat appearance. As the previously-issued rule recognized, vulnerable children and adults are experiencing dramatic short and long-term effects from this abusive treatment every day. 

We, the undersigned, urge HHS to prioritize and take all actions necessary to ensure this critical rule is reissued. Secretary Becerra and Commissioner Califf, we ask that you devote any and all resources necessary to swiftly reissue the rule with an immediate effective date and no further delays. If you have any questions about this letter, please contact Larkin Taylor-Parker of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network at