Tag Archives: Depression

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

 

We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang

 

Picador
Picador

“Race makes itself known in crisis, in the singular event that captures a larger pattern of abuse and pain,” writes author Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Who We Be)  in the introduction to a series of essays on the significance of ongoing police shootings, social inequities, housing discrimination and campus diversity.

As an historian, Chang helps us focus on the broader picture (and effects) of the long-term system of racism and how it has played out and continues to develop in our country.  Chang touches on Trump’s speech in Mesa, Arizona (December, 2015),  demonstrations in Ferguson, MO (where he was arrested for participating) on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death,  and the effects of gentrification to produce a powerful punch through the veil of denial that shrouds and nurtures systemic racism.

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.

2016 Election depression – What now for “the African-Americans”?

A good rule of thumb for choosing a therapist is to find someone who can understand your feelings – someone who sees the world from your perspective in some way. You assume that their familiarity with you will help them protect you more effectively.

Painting by artist Kerry James Marshall, now at the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art
Painting by artist Kerry James Marshall, now at the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art

In this 2016 election upset, the outsider who has stunned the world, has demonstrated that he sees women, immigrants, African Americans and Latinos as the outsiders. The newly elected misogynistic, reportedly racist, clearly flawed president-elect has no history of public service and yet he is taking on the role of protector & advocate for all Americans.  Many black folks (and whites, gays and women and differently-abled)  are now decidedly nervous.  With a penchant for “law & order” while being blind to the injustices acted out on black men & women daily through the criminal justice system, our fathers, spouses and children can become easy targets in this crisis of economic, religious and racial change.  What to do, what to do?

10 Steps to protect black life, especially in a Republican administration:

PLAN AHEAD

  1. Start planning now to take your whole family to vote.  Four years will pass before you know it. Be educated and prepared for local upcoming elections.
  2. Join & become active in your local political process and party of choice.
  3. Keep a lawyer & law enforcement friends on speed dial. Check out apps that will automatically send your phone video to the ACLU. Know and communicate with your local public officials.
  4. Teach your kids how to interact with policemen & others in authority.
  5. BE VIGILANT: Monitor your kids’ whereabouts, know their friends & keep them busy in healthy activities. Be nicely nosy.  Practice gentle but effective intervention. Parenting is a 24/7 job.
  6. ADJUST THE SOLUTION TO THE LEVEL OF THE PROBLEM: Don’t use the police to settle family disputes & minor neighborhood disagreements. Have a plan in place for settling differences & learn to back down when it can save a life.  If the issue is serious enough,  use your church, school or community officials to help you negotiate solutions. If a family member has extreme stress or mental health needs, get them to a psychiatrist, mental health clinic or therapist. If drugs are being used in your home, contact a drug program or addictions counselor for help. Be respectfully persistent in getting them help from the right professionals. Police persons are not mental health specialists!
  7. Face your relationship problems with the intention of being fair to all parties. You could win the argument now but be faced with violence later. Every little slight does not require redress. Allow yourself & others to make interpersonal mistakes – to have a bad day. Let the minor things pass while you plan a fair, effective strategy to handle common problems in a democratic way.

Between the world and Ta-Nehisi Coates – Every black mother should read…..

Between-the-World-and-Me-Random-House“Crazy”….is what people feel when their reality doesn’t match that of the masses. “Crazy” is what many black folks have been made to feel upon entering the wider American culture. In many parts of the US, whites make blacks look and feel crazy because of their denial of racism.

“Between the World & Me” is a new, non-toxic, natural antidepressant. A balm of words, concocted by a master pharmacist of the black experience, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senior Editor at The Atlantic Monthly. Ta-Nehesi puts racism on a glass slide and puts the slide under a microscope that not only magnifies for dissection, the pathogen thereon,  but allows one to verify the feeling caused by that pathogen.

This is a book that every mother, actually every black person, should read. It helps gel those streams of hurt, embarrassment, anger, disgust, frustration, sadness, reactive paranoia and as he points out, fear, that roll constantly off black people’s backs. In more solid form, one can more closely examine them and then toss them away. Or one can examine them, identify them and set up preventive barriers.