Tuesday, October 2, 2012

More Astonishing, Cutting-Edge Research in Psychiatry

As we did on my post of November 30, 2011, it’s once again time to look over the highlights from my two favorite medical journals, Duh! and No Sh*t, Sherlock. 

As I pointed out in that post, research dollars are very limited and therefore precious.  Why waste good money trying to study new, cutting edge or controversial ideas that might turn out to be wrong, when we can study things that that are already thought to be true but have yet to be "proven"?  Such an approach increases the success rate of studies almost astronomically.

Psychiatric blogger Nassir Ghaemi agrees: "In some estimates, less than 10% of all NIMH funding is aimed at clinically relevant treatment research on major mental illnesses (i.e., schizophrenia or bipolar disorder). Further, that limited funding is sparingly distributed: the highly conservative, non-risk-taking nature of NIH peer review is well-known."

Here are some of the most interesting new findings reported in these journals.

Side Effects and Therapeutic Effects Are Not The Same Thing

A brilliant new study ( on one anti-depressant concluded: "In the first few months patients either responded to the treatment and improved or didn't and still suffered side effects." Really? People can get side effects from a drug but no benefit? That actually happens?!? I never knew.

The Charleston (WV) State Journal (3/27, Burdette) reports that "a report released last week by Auburn University shows that the high poverty levels and low educational attainment among women have a direct correlation to the region's high number of teen births." The media is so irresponsible! Why haven't they pointed out this correlation more often than the previous 13,000 time?

What?  Combat is more stressful than merely serving in the military??  But it looks like so much fun.

Listening to Loud Music Associated with Substance Abuse

The Los Angeles Times (5/22, Kaplan) "Booster Shots" blog reports that according to a study published online May 21 in the journal Pediatrics, "Teens and young adults who listen to digital music players with ear buds are almost twice as likely as non-listeners to smoke pot.” As a veteran of the San Francisco music scene in 1967, I just never noticed that the people in the audience at the Fillmore auditorium were smoking pot. I always thought that smell came from the incense they were burning, and that those funny cigarettes were just home-rolled tobacco. Additionally, their LSD use was greatly exaggerated. They were not hallucinating. Those light shows were just really amazing.

And on a related note:

Small Study: Medical Marijuana May Impair New Patients' Driving Skills.

Reuters (7/27, Pittman) reported that although it often goes unnoticed during sobriety tests, the use of medical marijuana at the typical doses used by AIDS, cancer and chronic pain patients causes users who have not yet built up a tolerance to cannabinoids to totter from side-to-side when driving, according to a study published online July 12 in the journal Addiction.  Well I’ll be!  Intoxicants impair driving skills?  Who knew?  Legislatures should look into doing something about this, or someone could get killed.

 Review: Negative Interactions with Staff Common Cause of Aggression on Psychiatric Wards

MedWire (5/26, Cowen) reported, "Negative interactions with staff are the most common cause of aggression and violence among inpatients in adult psychiatric settings," according to a review published in the June issue of the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. Now come on!! Patients with schizophrenia are just naturally aggressive. It’s in their genes! Don’t let their completely flat affect and their total inability to organize a break out from a locked ward fool you.

Parental Fighting May Lead to Later Depression, Anxiety in Children


HealthDay (6/16, Goodwin) reported that "slamming doors, shouting and stony silences between mom and dad can really scar kids emotionally," according to a study published in the journal Child Development. Investigators found that "Kindergarteners whose parents fought with each other frequently and harshly were more likely to grow into emotionally insecure older children who struggled with depression, anxiety and behavior issues by 7th grade."  Here we go again. This parent bashing has just got to stop. We all know very well that behavior is controlled by genes and that environmental stress has absolutely zero psychological consequences.

And as long as we are on the subject of parent bashing, here’s some more evidence for this horrible trend:

Children's Adherence to Mental-Health Treatment May Depend on Parents' Perceptions


MedPage Today (8/4, Petrochko) reported, "Whether or not a child maintains a treatment for mental health may depend on parents' perceived benefits of that treatment," according to a 573-participant study published in the August issue of the journal Psychiatric Services. How many times can I stress this?  Parenting skills are absolutely irrelevant in determining the behavior of their children.

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