Category Archives: Mind Health

Research, thoughts & community observations on keeping it together

Taking psychiatric meds? How to protect yourself from side effects.

Along with frequently described mood  or antidepressant medications, what else can a person do to protect themselves from accumulating brain tissue loss and losing brain function?

For the folks suffering from disabling episodes of psychosis, mania and depression, the right psychiatric  medications are a godsend. There are many people who attribute their ability to continue working and leading a normal life to their  medications along with therapy. It is thought that for some people, these brain illnesses are associated with degeneration of brain cells. While every case may be different, often dysfunction in the brain occurs along with  dysfunction in the body. After all, every part of our body is connected.

We are seeing increases in autoimmune disorders, food allergies, gut problems, arthritis, asthma, skin disorders, depression and sleep disorders. For some people, some of these problems may be due to the same culprit. There is much discussion now about the role of diet and gut dysfunction in the emergence of mood disorders.

So, would it make sense to identify and eliminate the culprit(s) and replace lost or missing nutrients that are known to be essential for brain health? How about looking at non-prescription supplements and foods that help the brain? In the December, 2016 issue of Current Psychiatry, Dr. Henry A. Nasrallah, writes about supplements that can help protect the brains of folks who are experiencing brain problems which show up as mood or cognitive disorders.

Some antidepressants, mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics may not only decrease troubling symptoms but may also have a protective effect on the brain.

There is an additional step that your doctor can take to help you protect your brain from the “destructive processes that accompany acute episodes of psychosis, mania and depression”.

Some of the supplements mentioned are:

Omega-3 fatty acids – Found in fish oil supplements have been shown in research studies to help reduce the effects of mood disorders and psychosis when used in addition to medications as well as a general supplement to protect brain health. Check out http://www.VitalChoice.org

Caffeine –  Thought to be neuroprotective and to aid in preventing mood and memory dysfunction. Not necessarily good for anxious clients but helpful for those with psychosis or mood disorders.

Vitamin D3 –  A deficiency of this essential vitamin (the status of most people living north of North Carolina and especially of people experiencing psychotic and mood disorders)  has been associated with depression, Alzheimer’s, autism and schizophrenia.  Supplementation with natural vitamin D (inexpensive over the counter) is said to protect the brain and the body against basic illnesses.

Nicotine (in the form of nicotine gum or nicotine patches) can help with cognitive processing (thinking), stress and cell health.

Melatonin – is an antioxidant, supportive to the immune system which reduces brain inflammation.  Especially for diabetics or those with metabolic syndrome, melatonin is felt to be protective of brain tissue.  Melatonin is considered an over the counter supplement that is helpful for sleep problems.  For those taking Synthroid,  melatonin use needs to be discussed with your pharmacist or physician.

N-acetylcysteine – is a powerful antioxidant for the brain, especially during a psychotic episode

Minocycline – An antibiotic that has been shown in studies to have protective effects on the brain as an additional treatment in schizophrenia

Lithium – usually used to treat mania in dosages of 900 to 1500 mg/d has been found to prevent progression of “amnestic mild cognitive impairment” to full dementia when taken in doses as low as 1 mg/d.

Erythropoietin (limited use due to some black-box warnings)

Cox-2 inhibitors: anti-inflammatory drug helpful in acute psychosis usually associated with neuro-inflammation.

Talk to your provider about adding these supplements to your psychiatric medication

Source: Current Psychiatry,  Are you neuroprotecting your patients? 10 Adjunctive therapies, Henry A Nasrallah, MD, Vol. 15, No.12, December 2016

 

Trumpin’ for domestic violence

bl woman cartoon pulling hair outA recent article in the Huffington Post pointed out something that many victims of domestic violence have been thinking; that Trump’s personality and behavior are characteristic of the abusive partners  they’ve had. The article was sent to me by a client who felt Trump was a good example of an abusive spouse and for her as for the women the Huffington Post talked to, watching him was triggering the feelings associated with the trauma from which they were escaping.

And we elect him for president, because he sounds strong and we want change? Maybe that makes us wishful dreamers that are hoping for help when we feel like we have no control over our lives. As many know, the first step in  helping an abused woman out of a relationship, is not just helping her to see that her partner is dangerous to her survival. It’s helping her to know that there are other choices, that she can do for herself what she is wishing someone else would do for her. Showing her that her mind, her skills are enough. Especially, it is important for her to accept the truth of her situation. In abusive relationships, the perpetrator works his weak spell by convincing his partner that she needs him alone, that she is weak and unable to take care of herself. This psychological imprisonment is as effective as real imprisonment.

When Trump declared that only he could save America from “the system”,  that we need protection and only he could save us, alarm bells went off in the minds of many listeners. Angel Marie Russell wrote on her Facebook page, per the Huffington Post, ” Trump is triggering so many abuse and rape victims, including me”. “His behavior is almost exact to my abusive exes. It’s terrifying. I can’t even watch him.” But watch him we must.  And as with all crazy-making behavior, we have to pay attention not just to what he says, but more importantly, to what he does.

Feel-Good Food That’s Good for your Brain

Let’s face it,,,,,everytime you feed your body, you feed your brain. A well-fed brain can think clearly, make great decisions, handle stress and remember well.

A poorly-fed brain can’t remember, is impatient, is stuck in a cloud and can’t make decisions. Everything you eat affects you, so don’t you want to pick the best foods?

What’s really the best food?
Who knew that the best foods for you, now that you know the food pyramid misses the mark, are, u name it:  good ole greens, beans and veggies as close to fresh picked as you can get them. Organic produce is important because pesticides are potent cancer causers. With the widespread marketing of GMO foods (genetically-modified (Frankenfood) fruits and vegetables), it is doubly important that black folks and urban neighborhoods don’t become dumping grounds for pesticide-laden, old, poorly regulated and nutrient poor foods.

Food distributors know that they can unload lower quality foods in urban and immigrant neighborhoods. (Check the expiration labels on the food products that you buy. For unpackaged foods use your eyes and your nose. If you can smell the fish counter or the meat section from the front of the store, maybe you should go somewhere else. )

What to look for
Now is the time to look for the stickers on fresh produce that says “Organic” or has a five digit code that begins with a number 9.  Let the manager at your local market know that you want high quality, organically grown, fresh produce. If a few people ask, they can order it for their produce section. Look for farmers markets with produce that is often picked the same day or the day before. Pay a little bit more or check out your local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to buy a “farm-share” where you’ll get weekly deliveries of freshly harvested veggies from May to November for a lump sum payment. Check the prices of several farms but this usually averages $40 a week for the growing season for a family of four. They usually deliver to a drop off point like a church,  school or farmers market.

In the end, it’s less expensive
Fresh produce can be quickly cooked into a meal for 25% of the cost of processed, prepared foods and have four times the nutrition because it hasn’t been processed, baked, boiled, colored, preserved and sometimes, dried for packaging.

Follow health-conscious sister/brother bloggers
Vegan and healthy food bloggers, like Tracye McQuirter, will give you the details, recipes, facts and motivation for cooking up delicious, nutritious, “skintastic” and age defying meals!

Mapping police violence – Every 10 days an unarmed black person is killed

police-carA mental health threat for our people
Police killed 346 black people in 2015, making fear of our “protectors” a rational, reasonable fear.  Now, for sure, there are many honest, caring cops out there. You hope that they are the ones who stop you for a broken tail light. The statistics on police killings portray practices that often result in death for black individuals stopped for nonviolent issues. This presents a mental health issue for our people.

See how widespread the problem is
The resource website, http://www.mappingpoliceviolence.org   allows you to learn the stories of each of the individuals that were killed. Many of them are shocking, such as the Chicago landlord who opened her front door to greet police officers who had been called by her upstairs tenant. She opened the door, they shot her dead. Or the 17 year old brother, whose mother and sister had called the police when he experienced a psychotic episode. He ran into the bathroom, police shot him 17 times as his family begged them to stop.

The story of Kenneth Chamberlain
One of the saddest is the story of Kenneth Chamberlain of White Plains, NY.  Mr. Chamberlain, a retired Marine and long-time corrections officer, was killed by police after accidentally triggering his 1st Alert alarm.  He wore it because of a heart condition.  Police in riot gear stormed his apartment  (to be sure he was safe), and in a few seconds, tasered him twice, shot him at close range with four bean bag rounds, finally shooting him in the chest and killing him.

The entire episode was taped by the 1st Alert operator and yet the officers were never charged.  The conflicting testimonies of the officers supported a cover-up.The civil suit was lost last week because the nearly all white jury could not believe that the 69 year old retiree was not still standing when he was finally shot.  Watch the film and see what you think. These are not uncommon stories and they boggle the minds of mental health professionals right along with all other folks.

We are reading…..”Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond”

nobodycasualtiesofamericaswaronthe-vulnerable

There is an almost palpable level of fear rising in the minds of many Americans over the steady stream of
unarmed young black men and boys, women and girls killed by police. How do we protect our children? How do
black people conduct themselves to be sure that they are not seen as dangerous. Not shot down, because by
their physical appearance alone, their movements are intuitively misperceived as imminently threatening.
While the majority of killings have been white officers against black citizens, there is that small number
of black officers on black victims that indicates that it’s not only about white on black racism.

Whether it’s this American drama on our urban streets or any of the international wars that bring death
to everyday life, it is clear, killing is not a solution to anything. Guns do not speak more articulately
than human reasoning. Mental health, is the essence of prevention. Racism is a mental health issue. Diminishing
the value of “others” is a mental health problem. In this book, Marc Lamont Hill joins Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander
in bringing clarity to the ongoing war against black men.