January 28, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008
Although the idea of treating epilepsy through diet is not a novel one, recent studies with adults have demonstrated some valuable results. Epileptic children have benefited from following the ketogenic diet for many years. This diet is one consisting of fasting and very restricted amounts of fluids and carbohydrates. It works so well that it can even completely eliminate seizures in children. The diet builds up ketones or compounds in the body that are produced mostly from fat calories.

The secret to this science remains unknown to date; however, recent research suggests that a similar diet could be a saving grace for epileptic adults who are unable to benefit from medication.

In 2002, John Hopkins began research with a modified version of the Atkins diet, which did not have a fasting component nor a restricted fluid or carb intake. The diet consisted of about 15 grams of carbohydrates. Research proved to be beneficial for children so they turned to adults. What was found?

Those who had been suffering on average 10 seizures per week had vastly reduced their episodes. After only 1 month half displayed a 50% reduction in seizures and after 3 months, one third had reduced their seizures to half. Nevertheless, roughly one third had to quit the diet after 3 months due to an inability to follow the regimen. Fortunately, side affects appeared to be minimal. Although, I feel that more studies are needed to test long-term affects of such a restricted diet.

Most striking is that fourteen of those in the study chose to continue this alternate form of treatment beyond the 6 month trial proving that, although not everyone will benefit from or stomach this type of diet, for some it could be a way of life for those forced to make the choice between medication, surgery and electrical stimulation.

Full Article

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January 22, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The University of Tel Aviv has discovered a link between depression and a biological mechanism that affects the olfactory glands in women. Professor Yehuda Shoenfeld of the Faculty of Medicine implies that women who are depressed are simultaneously losing their sense of smell and as a result are wearing more perfume.

This discovery appears to have been derived from research that implies a biological basis for depression found in lupus patients.
In lupus patients and those with other autoimmune diseases, a particle known as an autoantibody attacks the person’s own immune system, appearing in the human body as an aberrant reaction to autoimmune diseases. This particle is a real novelty, says Prof. Shoenfeld. We have found that, when generated, it weakens a person’s sense of smell and can induce the feeling of depression. - article
The research seems to suggest that you can identify those who are depressed simply by the quantity of perfume that they wear. It also provides further evidence for the therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy.

In addition, I would be curious to see how this might affect office policy in many organizations that request to keep perfume and other scents to a minimum. If this study were to materialize into accepted theory, the ban on scented products in the workplace would not only disguise potentially depressed women, but prevent healthy emotional well-being of women by limiting the use of aromatherapy.

© www.mentalhealthblog.com

January 21, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008
Feeling like you’re in a state of persistent unhappiness brought on by a recent string of negative life events? You could be suffering from a new reactive disorder called Post Traumatic Disorder (PTED); a disorder that has been introduced as a subtype of adjustment disorders.

Conceptually, this disorder is similar to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) however; the symptoms are not caused by severely traumatic life events. The manifestation of this disorder is through prolonged embitterment, severe psychopathological symptoms and great impairment in most areas of life in reaction to a severe negative, but non-threatening life event. PTED is characterized by experiences of injustice, violation of basic beliefs, embitterment and intrusions. Most often this disorder is due to situations that force people to cope with major life changes, such as death, loss of employment, sickness etc.

The symptoms of PTED can be very severe, chronic, life-threatening, and hard to treat. It seems that this disorder may be gaining in popularity with our increasingly stressed out society. For more info on current research check out: Posttraumatic Embitterment Disorder in Comparison to Other Mental Disorders by Michael Linden, Kai Baumann, Max Rotter, Barbara Schippan.

Abstract

© www.mentalhealthblog.com

January 15, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In recent news, the Ontario government has managed to save the popular that the city of Ottawa refused to support. Our Mayor, Larry O’Brien cancelled the program back in July 2007. As of yesterday, news has leaked that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will provide $287,000.00 in funding over the next year to the Somerset West Community Health Centre to manage the controversial program.

Many of those who supported the motion to cancel the program may be furious with the province’s overturn; however from the news articles that I’ve read it appears as though the province has always been the main source of funding, while the city only topped up with a small portion of $7,500.00 a year.

The crack pipe program is said to be an essential part of an integrated drug strategy, along with enforcement, treatment and prevention according Jack McCarthy, director of Ottawa’s Somerset West Community Health Centre.

Although, I’m not fully convinced that this “harm-reduction” approach is entirely necessary, at least to the degree of funding awarded, I am open minded about it and not afraid to admit that I am not fully aware of the statistics. On the surface, to the taxpayer, it appears that this program is an unnecessary waste of money. However, the taxpayer may not realize the savings to be had in health care costs to treat diseases, such as Hepatitis C and AIDS, as well as the enormous relief of strain on health services.

Despite some of the more positive aspects, one cannot deny the fact that this program promotes . It gives the impression that this type of behaviour is accepted as normal within our society. Money might be better spent on programs that serve to prevent and treat addiction. It seems that this city and many other cities lack the funding in these areas.

Besides, I’m not sure how partial I am to the image of a city littered with used . I’m certainly more interested in helping on their road to recovery.

© www.mentalhealthblog.com

January 14, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008
I stumbled upon an article today regarding addiction, an area of study that has been of interest for many years. The research conducted at Indiana University examined the possibility that structural changes in the amygdala may be responsible for the co-morbidity of addiction and mental illness. Those who are familiar with addiction or have worked with addicts know just how often this combination occurs.

The study compared the behaviour of adult rats that had both undergone surgery on their amygdala during infancy. One group had their amydalas damaged while the control group’s amygdalas were left intact. The control group experienced a type of mock surgery.

Interestingly, those that grew up with damaged amygdalas showed more response to novel stimuli, less fear to elevated mazes, continued social activity in the presence of a predator’s scent, were more sensitive to cocaine after only one exposure, and demonstrated consistency of behaviour changes with repeated cocaine injections. All conditions are stated to have remained constant; therefore results are directly related to the amygdala.

This proposes that the structure of the brain can affect vulnerability to drug addiction. Also, with regards to dual diagnosis it suggests that this vulnerability to addiction more effectively explains the high rates of addicts suffering from other mental illnesses as opposed to drug use causing mental illness.

This seems to suggest that a better response to treat mental illness is to reduce pharmacological treatment, a position that I have held from day one of my studies in psychology.

Full Article

© www.mentalhealthblog.com

January 12, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008
This website diagnoses and recommends a specified treatment of nine major mental disorders, from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. It was designed by Dr. Sam Ozersky and other leading mental health experts that form Mensante Corp. This website that has been around since January 2006 diagnoses, treats, and follows up when a risk of mental illness is detected from answers to an online survey. It seems to be designed for the workforce. The site is actually endorsed by the Canadian College of Family Physicians.

This seems like yet another desperate attempt at making psychology the science that it will never be. Although the idea is similar to the administration of psychological inventories it lacks a very important element, namely professional interpretation and explanation. Besides the fact that this puts many well-educated professionals out of work, the job would be placed in the hands of those seriously lacking in experience. Also, what about computer error? After putting so much effort into studies and work in the field, I could never support or put any faith in such an invention unless it is used with extreme caution. I suppose it could prove to be valuable for some when used as a "guide", but it will hardly replace any existing practices. The fact that it might provide comprehensive information in one place may be it's best feature.

Of course, the greatest benefits are most likely to be seen in the money saved due to increased productivity and decreased payouts in disability claims because in the end that is the real aim of this approach is it not?

© www.mentalhealthblog.com
Saturday, January 12, 2008
This blog is devoted to the discussion of new developments and research within the field of psychology and mental health.

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I have an educational background is in Psychology and Sociology. In addition, I have worked with many diverse individuals of all ages, with varying degrees of mental and/or physical illness. I enjoy following current news and research that impacts my area of expertise.

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