Posts Tagged ‘Depression’

This is Your Brain on TMS

Monday, March 6th, 2017

TMS is now available in St. Louis, according to local TV commercials promoting this crippling form of brain stimulation.

Techniques such as “transcranial magnetic stimulation” (TMS) are psychiatry’s latest experiment in treatment of the “mentally ill.”

In TMS, a magnetic coil is placed near the patient’s scalp and a powerful and rapidly changing magnetic field passes through skin and bone and penetrates a few centimeters (up to 2.5 inches) into the outer cortex (outer gray matter) of the brain and induces an electrical current. Repetitive TMS (rTMS) can cause seizures or epileptic convulsions in healthy subjects, depending upon the intensity, frequency, duration and interval of the magnetic stimuli.

With ECT and psychosurgery under intense critical public scrutiny, psychiatry is now feverishly searching for a new “breakthrough miracle” – and TMS is one of the new catch phrases.

The TMS St. Louis web site (http://www.tms-stlouis.com/) says “Deep TMS Therapy is an FDA-cleared depression treatment for patients with depression who have not benefited from antidepressant medications.” Well, that makes every patient in mental health care eligible for TMS, since patently none of them have benefited from the drugs.

Why do some people say it “works”?

No one denies that people can have difficult problems in their lives, that at times they can be mentally unstable. Unfortunately, not only do psychiatrists not understand the etiology (cause) of any mental disorder, they cannot cure them. In effect, psychiatrists are still saying that mental problems are incurable and that the afflicted are condemned to lifelong suffering.
Psychiatric treatments such as TMS, however, are unworkable and dangerous, and while they may temporarily mask some symptoms they do not treat, correct or cure any physical disease or condition.

TMS may temporarily relieve the pressure that an underlying physical problem could be causing but it does not treat, correct or cure any physical disease or condition. This relief may have the person thinking he is better but that relief is not evidence that a psychiatric disorder exists. Ask an illicit drug user whether he feels better when snorting cocaine or smoking dope and he’ll believe that he is, even while the drugs are actually damaging him. Some depression treatments can have a “damping down” effect. They suppress the physical feelings associated with “depression” but they are not alleviating the condition or targeting what is causing it.

The brain is your body’s most energy–intensive organ. It represents only three percent of your body weight but uses twenty–five percent of your body’s oxygen, nutrients and circulating glucose. Therefore any significant metabolic disruptions such as TMS can impact brain function.

The brain stimulation breaks the routine rhythmic flows and activities of the nervous system. The nerves and other body systems are forced to do things they normally would not do. The human body, however, is unmatched in its ability to withstand and respond to such disruptions. The various systems fight back, trying to process the disruption, and work diligently to counterbalance its effect on the body.

But the body can only take so much. Quickly or slowly, the systems break down. Human physiology was not designed for this type of brain stimulation. Tissue damage may occur. Nerves may stop functioning normally. Organs and hormonal systems may go awry. This can be temporary, but it can also be long lasting, even permanent. Like a car run on rocket fuel, you may be able to get it to run a thousand miles an hour, but the tires, the engine, the internal parts, were never meant for this. The machine flies apart.

Side effects (adverse reactions) of TMS may include headache, scalp discomfort, facial muscle spasms, lightheadedness, fainting; altered endocrine, immune or neurotransmitter systems; loss of consciousness; seizures; mania; hearing loss; and, if the patient is depressed, the “treatment” may induce or exacerbate suicidal feelings. Adverse reactions are often delayed – i.e. may appear long after the patient has left the doctor’s office.

You may hear that TMS is called “noninvasive”, but it does impact the brain in ways that are not fully understood. One could say it is “noninvasive” in the same way that ECT is noninvasive – i.e. it doesn’t break the skin. Scorch marks not included. Little is known about the long-term side effects. Cognitive impairment has also been observed in some cases. Using different stimulation intensities and/or patterns may also have significant effects on the long-lasting outcomes.

Typical treatment involves a 40-minute session, five days a week, for four to six weeks. The cost can range from $6,000 to $10,000.

Physically intrusive and damaging practices such as TMS violate the doctor’s pledge to uphold the Hippocratic Oath and “Do no harm.”

New high-tech “treatments” for the brain will continue to be used to create the appearance of scientific progress, but in the end, psychiatry will be no closer to identifying any causes or effecting any cures; instead, their betrayal and brutality in the name of mental health continues. Psychiatry has proven only one thing — without the protection of basic human rights, there can only be diminished mental health.

Persons in desperate circumstances must be provided proper and effective medical care. The correct action on a seriously mentally disturbed person is a full, searching clinical examination by a competent medical doctor to discover and treat the true cause of the problem. Mental health facilities should have non-psychiatric medical experts on staff and be required to have a full complement of diagnostic equipment, which could prevent more than 40% of admissions by finding and treating undiagnosed physical conditions.

Click here for more information about the brutal reality of abusive psychiatric practices such as electroshock, TMS, deep brain stimulation, and psychosurgery.

The Screeners are Screaming Again

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

The Screeners are Screaming Again

Just when you thought that calls for ubiquitous mental health screening was winding down, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is calling for widespread depression screening for children.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is made up of 16 volunteer members who are supposed to be experts in prevention, evidence-based medicine, and primary care. Task Force members are appointed by the Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to serve 4-year terms. AHRQ is a federal government entity which is supposed to work within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide research on health care.

In February, 2016, the USPSTF recommended repeated and widespread primary care mental health screening for “major depressive disorder” in children aged 12 to 18 years. The usual “treatment” is SSRI psychiatric drugs.

While they admit that “Medications for the treatment of depression, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have known harms,” they basically ignore the harms in order to push the screenings and the drugs.

Mental health screening is a test for so-called mental illness. A person who is screened and found to exhibit symptoms of mental distress can then be diagnosed with a mental “disease” or “disorder” and referred to a psychiatrist or psychiatric facility (or even to a General Practitioner) to be prescribed psychiatric drugs.

Mental health screening aims to get whole populations on drugs and thus under control. The kinds of drugs used create further medical and social problems, and these subsequent complications require additional taxes and laws to handle them. The net result is a sick and fearful population dependent on the government to “solve” all their problems.

Recognize that the real problem is that psychiatrists fraudulently diagnose life’s problems as an “illness”, and stigmatize unwanted behavior or study problems as “diseases.” Psychiatry’s stigmatizing labels, programs and treatments are harmful junk science; their diagnoses of “mental disorders” are a hoax – unscientific, fraudulent and harmful. All psychiatric treatments, not just psychiatric drugs, are dangerous.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatric institutions, and other medical doctors prescribing psychiatric drugs and treatments must be made fully accountable for their funding, practices and treatments, and their results, or lack thereof — including prescribing antidepressants whose only results are harmful side effects.

Risky Business of Sleep Drugs

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

Risky Business of Sleep Drugs

After reading about the dangers of sleeping pills in the February 2016 edition of Consumer Reports magazine, we thought you might like to know something about that.

Some psychotropic drugs are prescribed as sleeping pills. Trazodone, an antidepressant, is often prescribed off label as a sleeping pill. Benzodiazepines such as Valium are also prescribed as sleeping pills. Other examples are Ambien (an anti-psychotic), Lunesta (an anti-anxiety drug), and Sonata (another anti-anxiety drug).

These have all the potential side effects we have come to associate with psychiatric drugs — including violence, suicide, addiction, and so on.

The latest sleeping pill fad, touted as “the new insomnia drug”, is Belsomra (generic “suvorexant”). It is classified as a “sedative-hypnotic” which means it is a central nervous system depressant; it alters brain chemistry by targeting a neurotransmitter called orexin.

Belsomra is manufactured by Merck, Sharpe & Dohme Corporation, and was approved by the FDA for insomnia in August of 2014.

Guess what? This drug carries the same warnings as other psychotropic drugs; it may cause memory loss, anxiety, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, depression, addiction, and thoughts of suicide — all this along with its own special side effects: inability to move or talk, sleep-walking, sleep-driving, and drowsiness lasting through the next day.

Here is what Consumer Reports has to say about Belsomra: “…people who took a 15- or 20-milligram dose of Belsomra every night for three months fell asleep just 6 minutes faster on average than those who took a placebo. And those on Belsomra slept on average only 16 minutes longer than people given a placebo. Such small improvements didn’t translate to people feeling more awake the next day, either. Instead, more people who took Belsomra reported that they felt drowsy the next day than those who took a placebo.”

“Because of the limited benefits and substantial risks of sleeping pills, Consumer Reports’ medical experts advise that sleep drugs should be used with great caution.”

“Merck spent $36 million on TV ads for its new drug Belsomra from Aug. 1 to Nov. 24, 2015, making it the second most advertised Rx drug in that time frame, according to iSpot.tv. The ads note that Belsomra is the first drug to target orexin, a chemical that plays a role in keeping people awake. But Belsomra doesn’t work much, or any, better than other sleep drugs. And because it’s new, little is known about its long-term safety.”

One take-away here is that even if a prescription drug is not advertised or prescribed for psychiatric reasons, if it messes with the brain’s neurotransmitters and has all the same side-effects as a psychiatric drug — well, you must get the picture by now.

The Consumer Reports article goes on to discuss non-drug sleep alternatives at some length; it is a good and helpful read.

When your doctor prescribes a drug, it is good practice to ask questions so you can give your full informed consent. These are some example questions you can ask:

1. What is the evidence for the diagnosis?
2. How does the treatment affect the body?
3. How does the treatment affect the mind?
4. What unwanted effects may occur?
5. Is it approved by the FDA for this condition?
6. What is known and not known about how safe it is and how well it works?
7. What are the alternatives, including the option of no treatment?
8. Does the doctor or the clinic have a financial interest in pushing the diagnosis or treatment?

Another Day Another Anti-depressant (Again)

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Another Day Another Anti-depressant (Again)

On July 10, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Rexulti (brexpiprazole, an atypical antipsychotic) tablets to treat adults with so-called schizophrenia and as an add-on treatment to an antidepressant medication to treat adults with so-called major depressive disorder. We are now starting to see the TV ads for this.

Rexulti is manufactured by Tokyo-based Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. and its partner Lundbeck. It might be marketed as a replacement for Abilify (aripiprazole), although clinical trials for its usage to treat ADHD were discontinued, likely due to lack of efficacy. It is still a new drug that has not been tested over a long-term in a real-world population.

Rexulti and other such drugs have a Boxed Warning alerting health care professionals about an increased risk of death associated with the off-label use of these drugs to treat behavioral problems in older people with dementia-related psychosis.

The Boxed Warning also alerts health care professionals and patients to an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults taking antidepressants.

It has the same pattern of debilitating side effects as any other antidepressant or antipsychotic, including addiction and suicidal thoughts and actions. The most common side effects reported by participants taking Rexulti in clinical trials included weight gain and an inner sense of restlessness (akathisia), such as feeling the need to move.

Rexulti is being touted as producing less akathisia, restlessness, and insomnia than other drugs, but it is important to be skeptical of this marketing due to the fact that clinical trials reported all of these side effects. Like all antipsychotics, Rexulti will likely have severe withdrawal symptoms.

While the way Rexulti works is completely unknown, it affects serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine neurotransmitters in the brain; and this effect is called a “serotonin-dopamine activity modulator”. Messing with neurotransmitters in the brain without really understanding how they work is serious business; we don’t recommend it. In any case, we can guarantee that this chemical-in-the-brain-based hypothesis is bogus. Full Informed Consent should be your watchword.

Rexulti was studied in two 6-week clinical trials of 1,054 patients aged 18-65. The patients selected for the studies took another antidepressant for at least 8 weeks. Twenty patients discontinued participation due to adverse reactions.  The incidences of akathisia and restlessness, and some other side effects, increased with increases in dose.

We must recognize that the real problem is that psychiatrists and other medical practitioners fraudulently diagnose life’s problems as an “illness” and stigmatize unwanted behavior as  “diseases.” Psychiatry’s stigmatizing labels, programs and treatments are harmful junk science; their diagnoses of “mental disorders” are a hoax – unscientific, fraudulent and harmful. Taking such damaging drugs as Rexulti prevents people from finding out what is really wrong and fixing that.

CCHR believes that everyone has the right to full informed consent. FIND OUT! FIGHT BACK!

The Name Game, Latuda

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

The Name Game, Latuda

Latuda, Latuda, bo-buda
Banana-fana-fo-fuda
Fee-fi-mo-muda
Latuda

One might as well be talking gibberish, since Latuda does not make any sense. Unless you consider that it makes a lot of cents.

We recently saw a commercial on TV for Latuda (generic name lurasidone HCL), lauding its use for bipolar depression.

It’s another psychiatric drug, originally promoted for the symptoms called schizophrenia, and lately for bipolar depression. It’s similar to risperidone or olanzapine, an atypical anti-psychotic drug that alters the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. The chemical class is called “benzisothiazol derivative.”

It was developed by Sumitomo Dainippan Pharma and marketed in the U.S. by Sunovian Pharmaceuticals.

The Latuda manufacturer’s website has this to say about it, “It’s not known exactly how Latuda works, and the precise way antipsychotics work is also unknown.”

Manufacturer warnings include, “Increased mortality rate in elderly patients … and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.”

867 other drugs are known to interact with it.

The side effects are similar to all other antipsychotics, and could be increased in intensity if the user drinks grapefruit juice with it.

An average dose is estimated to cost about $5,000 per year.

It was not tested in published clinical trials lasting longer than 6 weeks; and one of its trials failed to show any improvement at all.

At this point, it is definitely looking more like banana-fana than anything else. One might as well eat some bananas instead, it would be a whole lot healthier and likely just as effective.

We’re making fun of the psych drug, not the symptoms. People certainly can have mental trauma for which they might need help. We’re just saying, the psych drug is not help; it is, rather, harm.

Psychiatry is a harmful pseudo-science; they know it, they admit it. Don’t swallow it.

Go here for more information. Find Out! Fight Back!

Germanwings Co-pilot Who Purposefully Crashed Plane Had Spent 18 Months In Psychiatric Treatment

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Germanwings Co-pilot Who Purposefully Crashed Plane Had Spent 18 Months In Psychiatric Treatment

Numerous reports are now surfacing that Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz who purposefully crashed Flight 9525 into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board, had in fact been under psychiatric care.

What media had not initially been reporting is the fact that Lubitz, in all likelihood was under the influence of antidepressants, drugs documented to cause depersonalization, mania, psychosis, and even homicidal ideation, considering he spent more than 18 months undergoing “psychiatric care.”

Late-breaking news from The Straits Times indicates that “German police have found medical treatments for psychological illness at the home of the co-pilot” and “Investigators made the discovery in a search of the home of Andreas Lubitz in the western city of Duesseldorf and seized a number ‘of medicines for the treatment of psychological illness’, Welt am Sonntag weekly said.”

Moreover, Lubitz would not be the first commercial pilot to purposefully crash a plane while under the influence of psychotropic drugs — In 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), issued a report on the probable cause of a 2008 plane crash in Mount Airy that killed everyone on board, showing that toxicology tests revealed the pilot had the antidepressant Zoloft in his system. The NTSB report stated, “Officials say the pilot ‘displayed non-professional behavior’ and that a cockpit voice recording documented the pilot singing, ‘Save my life, I’m going down for the last time'” shortly before crashing the plane.

The emerging facts regarding Lubitz’ psychiatric treatment:

Russia Today (RT) reports, “Lubitz had spent 18 months overall under psychiatric treatment, Bild (a German newspaper) reported on Friday, citing anonymous sources within Lufthansa, Germanwings’ parent company. The pilot was diagnosed with a ‘severe depressive episode’ in 2009.”

According to Reuters, “The pilot who appears to have deliberately crashed a plane carrying 149 others into the French Alps received psychiatric treatment for a ‘serious depressive episode’ …. Citing internal documents and Lufthansa sources, Bild said Lubitz spent a total of one and a half years in psychiatric treatment.”

The Guardian reports, “Investigators searching the Düsseldorf apartment of the co-pilot on the Germanwings flight that crashed into the French Alps on Tuesday have found evidence he hid an illness from his employers, prosecutors said on Friday. The evidence is a torn-up doctors’ note, signing him off work on the day of the crash. ‘Medical documents were found that indicate an ongoing illness and suitable medical treatment,’ Düsseldorf prosecutors said in a statement.”

Mirror states that, “Killer co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was treated in hospital just two weeks before the plane crash which killed 150 people. The 27-year-old attended a clinic at the University of Dusseldorf Hospital in February and March. The most recent visit was March 10, exactly a fortnight before he guided the Germanwings Airbus A320 into its fatal descent. The hospital said Lubitz attended for ‘diagnostic evaluation’ but insisted he was not treated for depression…. They confirmed he was suffering from a serious illness which he had concealed from his employers Germanwings. One of the sick notes was reportedly signed by either a local neurologist or psychologist.”

While the psychotropic drug policies of Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, are unknown, in the U.S, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows the use of antidepressants among pilots, a policy instituted in 2008. This is despite the fact there have been 134 regulatory warnings from eleven countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Russian, Italy and Germany on antidepressants causing suicidal ideation.

Given the increasing number of questionable aircraft disasters, which, on their surface, provide no rhyme or reason for a motive, one may begin to question the use of antidepressants, especially in light of a 2007 FAA report that revealed that of the 61 air crashes between 1990-2001, “the pilot’s psychological condition and/or SSRI use was reported to be the probable cause or a contributing factor in 31% (19/61) of the accidents.”

The fact is, whether Lubitz was on psychiatric drugs, or in withdrawal from them, there is enough evidence to show that the use of antidepressants or other mind-altering psychiatric drugs by commercial pilots, in the U.S. and abroad, should be banned.

Is Marijuana a Treatment for Depression?

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Is Marijuana a Treatment for Depression?

Marijuana’s popularity may be based on the perception that it is safer than cigarettes and alcohol as a treatment for depression, but multiple studies show that marijuana is not the harmless drug many believe it is. It can have a negative impact on your mental health.

As is usual in a business involving large sums of money, controversy and misinformation are rampant. There are, however, enough facts to allow an unaddled brain to work out the connections and reach unbiased conclusions.

Myth: marijuana causes depression; or alternatively marijuana is a treatment for depression. There are as many studies, articles and arguments about one as about the other.

Fact: Neither view is totally accurate.

Marijuana is the word (thought to be Mexican-Spanish in origin) used to describe the dried flowers, seeds and leaves of the Indian hemp plant (genus Cannabis.) Etymologists think the name cannabis is from an ancient word for hemp (the name of the fiber made from the plant.)

Regardless of the name, this drug is a hallucinogen — a substance which distorts how the mind perceives the world. The chemical in cannabis that creates this distortion is tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly called THC. The amount of THC found in any given batch of marijuana may vary substantially, but overall the percentage of THC has increased in recent years due to selective breeding. Average THC levels in cannabis have grown from 1% in 1974 to up to 24% presently.

It has been found that consuming one joint gives as much exposure to cancer-producing chemicals as smoking five cigarettes. The mental consequences are equally severe; marijuana smokers have poorer memories and mental aptitude than do non-users. THC disrupts nerve cells in the brain affecting memory.

While alcohol consists of one active substance, ethanol, marijuana contains more than 400 known chemicals, including the same cancer-causing substances found in tobacco smoke. THC damages the immune system; alcohol does not. Nationwide, 40% of adult males test positive for marijuana at the time of their arrest for criminal conduct. Next to alcohol, marijuana is the second most frequently found substance in the bodies of drivers involved in fatal automobile accidents.

Short term effects can include panic and anxiety. Long term effects can include personality and mood changes. People take such drugs to get rid of unwanted situations or feelings. Marijuana masks the problem for a time; but when the high fades, the problem, unwanted condition or situation returns more intensely than before. One study found that marijuana users had 55% more accidents, 85% more injuries, and a 75% increase in being absent from work.

Drugs are essentially poisons. The amount taken determines the effect. A small amount acts as a stimulant; a greater amount acts as a sedative; an even larger amount can be fatal. This is true of any drug. But many drugs, like THC, can directly affect the mind by distorting the user’s perception, so that a person’s actions may be odd, irrational, inappropriate, and even destructive. Drugs block off all sensations, the desirable ones with the unwanted. So, while providing short-term help in the relief of pain, they also wipe out ability and alertness and muddy one’s thinking. Users think drugs are a solution; but eventually the drugs become the problem.

There are so many non-drug alternatives to mental issues that it makes one wonder why the drugs are so popular. Actually, we said it earlier — it is a business involving large sums of money. And if a person is depressed, whether a result of the joint or a precursor to the joint — there is your neighborhood doctor or psychiatrist ready to prescribe an anti-depressant.

New study throws into question long-held belief about depression

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

New Study Throws into Question Long-Held Belief About Depression

[The following Press Release is from the American Chemical Society ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Aug 27 2014. Read the original here.]

“Mice Genetically Depleted of Brain Serotonin Do Not display a Depression-like Behavioral Phenotype” [ACS Chem. Neurosci., 2014, 5 (10), pp 908–919]

“New evidence puts into doubt the long-standing belief that a deficiency in serotonin — a chemical messenger in the brain — plays a central role in depression. In the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience, scientists report that mice lacking the ability to make serotonin in their brains (and thus should have been “depressed” by conventional wisdom) did not show depression-like symptoms.

Donald Kuhn and colleagues at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center and Wayne State University School of Medicine note that depression poses a major public health problem. More than 350 million people suffer from it, according to the World Health Organization, and it is the leading cause of disability across the globe. In the late 1980s, the now well-known antidepressant Prozac was introduced. The drug works mainly by increasing the amounts of one substance in the brain — serotonin. So scientists came to believe that boosting levels of the signaling molecule was the key to solving depression. Based on this idea, many other drugs to treat the condition entered the picture. But now researchers know that 60 to 70 percent of these patients continue to feel depressed, even while taking the drugs. Kuhn’s team set out to study what role, if any, serotonin played in the condition.

“To do this, they developed “knockout” mice that lacked the ability to produce serotonin in their brains. The scientists ran a battery of behavioral tests. Interestingly, the mice were compulsive and extremely aggressive, but didn’t show signs of depression-like symptoms. Another surprising finding is that when put under stress, the knockout mice behaved in the same way most of the normal mice did. Also, a subset of the knockout mice responded therapeutically to antidepressant medications in a similar manner to the normal mice. These findings further suggest that serotonin is not a major player in the condition, and different factors must be involved. These results could dramatically alter how the search for new antidepressants moves forward in the future, the researchers conclude.

“The authors acknowledge funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Wayne State University.”


The Bottom Line

Why are psychiatrists still prescribing drugs already proven to be ineffective and that have potentially devastating side effects? One might presume that there is so much money and time invested in developing this drug that they are desperate to find some way to use it and continue to reap its profits. Or one might presume that they really do intend to cause as much damage from these drugs as they can.

Behind the alarming reports of mental illness gripping our nation are drug companies inventing diseases. Disease mongering promotes nonexistent diseases and exaggerates mild conditions in order to boost profits for the pharmaceutical industry.

Click here for more information about psychiatric scams.

Contrave

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Contrave

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new weight loss drug on September 10. Aren’t you excited? Don’t get your hopes up, we’re going to tell you all the reasons you should not take this drug.

I just lost 10 pounds by eating meat and vegetables for a month. I temporarily gave up ice cream and cheese, also. Why do you care about my diet? Because with Contrave you only get the best results by combining the drug with a non-drug weight management program (that is, proper diet and exercise.) Test results show that Contrave drug users might lose an average of 8 pounds more over 6 months than those losing weight without the drug, with both groups also doing a non-drug weight management program. The experts say that if you just use the drug with no changes in diet or exercise, it is not going to be successful. So why not just save yourself $200 a month and go with the non-drug weight management program?

OK, so some of the test results show that on average people on the drug lost 4% more weight over a year than those on a placebo, while doing the same non-drug weight management things. So how is Contrave supposed to work?

Well, funny thing about that. No one has a real clue about how Contrave works or doesn’t work. The best they can say is that sometimes it lessens one’s appetite. There is no way to predict the results, it is strictly trial and error.

There are not that many weight loss drugs on the market, leading some doctors to joke about slim pickings for the treatment of obesity. There is also controversy about whether obesity is really a medical condition or a symptom of a medical condition. In any case, let’s not follow all these red herrings and just describe this particular drug in more depth.

The FDA rejected the first approval request in 2011 for Contrave, and has given approval this year only with two additional requirements — more safety studies are needed, and the drug must carry a boxed warning about the risk of suicide and other bad side effects.

Suicide risk? Really? For weight loss? What kind of a drug is this?

Guess what, Contrave is a psychiatric drug. Two psych drugs in combination, actually. Contrave is a combination of bupropion (Wellbutrin), and naltrexone. The recommended daily dose is a total of 32 mg naltrexone and 360 mg bupropion.

You may recall that Wellbutrin is an antidepressant; as a short-acting antidepressant and amphetamine-like drug similar to Ritalin and Dexedrine, it is also marketed in slow-release form as Zyban for people trying to quit smoking.

The FDA approved Wellbutrin as an antidepressant in 1985 but because of the significant incidence of seizures at the originally recommended dose (400-600 mg), the drug was withdrawn in 1986. It was reintroduced in 1989 with a maximum dose of 450 mg per day.

It can cause seizures and at rates of four times that of other antidepressants. Fatal heart attacks in those with a history of heart-rhythm disturbances have occurred. Other side effects include agitation, insomnia, increased restlessness, anxiety, delusions, hallucinations, psychotic episodes, confusion, weight loss and paranoia. Teens have abused the drug by crushing and snorting it, causing seizures. So, we can see that weight loss is one of the possible side effects of Wellbutrin; only in the context of an antidepressant or smoking cessation drug, weight loss is an unwanted side effect. So why not change the name and market it as a weight loss drug?

Naltrexone, on the other hand, is an anti-addiction drug, technically an opioid receptor antagonist. It is FDA approved to treat alcohol and opioid dependence, although it must not be used if the person is still taking alcohol or opioids, as it can induce severe withdrawal symptoms. It also has side effects of depression and suicidal thoughts or suicide. I can believe it might suppress one’s appetite, as well.

I think I’ll just go buy some ice cream and drown my visions of weight loss in a sugar coma.

U.S. Military Mental Health Costs Skyrocket

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

U.S. Military Mental Health Costs Skyrocket

[The following report is from NextGov.com, an information resource for federal technology decision makers, and the CRS report cited.]

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) just put a price tag on the mental health costs of the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: about $4.5 billion between 2007 and 2012. The Defense Department spent $958 million on mental health treatment in 2012, roughly double the $468 million it spent in 2007.

Eighty-nine percent of spending on mental disorder treatment between 2007 and 2012 — approximately $4 billion — went for active duty service members. Over the same time frame, the military health system spent about $461 million on mental health care treatment for activated Guard and Reserve members.

Of the nearly $1 billion the military medical system spent in fiscal 2012 on mental disorder treatments for active duty and activated National Guard and reserve members, CRS said more than half of the costs, about $567 million, were for outpatient active duty mental health care.

Between 2001 and 2011, the rate of mental health diagnoses among active duty service members increased approximately 65 percent, CRS reported. A total of 936,283 service members, or former service members during their period of service, have been diagnosed with at least one mental disorder over this time, CRS said.

The CRS report [R43175 “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Health Problems in the Military: Oversight Issues for Congress” August 8, 2013], written by Katherine Blakeley, a foreign affairs analyst, and Don J. Jansen, a Defense health care policy analyst, said the reported incidence of post traumatic stress disorder soared 650 percent, from about 170 diagnoses per 100,000 person years in 2000 to approximately 1,110 diagnoses per 100,000 person years in 2011.

Though Defense spent $4 billion on mental health treatment for active duty service members from 2007 through 2012, the CRS report questioned exactly what the Pentagon got for its money. “There are scant data documenting which treatments patients receive or whether those treatments were appropriate and timely,” the report said. Additionally, “Reliable evidence is lacking as to the quality of mental health care and counseling offered in DOD facilities.”

Beginning in 2010, suicide has been the second-leading cause of death for active duty servicemembers, behind only war injuries. Between 1998 and 2011, 2,990 servicemembers on active duty have died by suicide, with an incidence rate of approximately 14 per 100,000 person years. However, the suicide rate among active duty servicemembers has sharply increased since 2005, reaching a peak of 18.5 per 100,000 in 2009 and declining slightly to 17.5 per 100,000 in 2010 and 18 per 100,000 in 2011.

Of the 301 servicemembers who died by suicide in 2011, 40% received outpatient behavioral health care, while 17% had received outpatient behavioral health services within the month prior to suicide; 15% had received inpatient behavioral health treatment; 26% had a known history of psychotropic medication use, most frequently antidepressants.

Of the 915 active duty servicemembers who attempted suicide in 2011, 43% had a known history of psychotropic medication use, most frequently antidepressants, and 61% had received outpatient behavioral health services within the month prior to suicide.


This and other reports persist in declaring that the reasons for high rates of military suicides are not clear. However, the scientific research documenting the connection between violence, suicide and psychiatric drugs is overwhelming. When you contact your federal officials, Senators, and Representatives, tell them to investigate the relationship between psychiatric drugs, violence and suicide. For more information about this relationship, download and read the CCHR booklet “Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence and Suicide.”

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