“The lives of people with serious mental illnesses are about 25 years shorter than the rest of the population, on average, and the main causes of early death are tobacco-related diseases.
Patients in psychiatric hospitals who take part in smoking cessation programs during their stay are more likely to be smoke-free after 18 months, compared to patients who don’t participate in the programs, says a new study as reported by Reuters today.
“What’s more, researchers found that quitting smoking appeared to be safe for the patients and was tied to a decreased risk of being admitted back into the hospital.
“That’s a new finding and it needs to be replicated, but we’re excited that it didn’t cause any harm and may have supported their recovery,” said Judith Prochaska, the study’s lead author from the Stanford Prevention Research Center in California.
“Prochaska and her colleagues write in the American Journal of Public Health that it’s estimated people with mental illnesses use two to four times more tobacco than the general population. Most U.S. hospitals have been smoke-free since 1993, but at least half of hospital psychiatric units allow smoking and sell cigarettes, according to the researchers. “It used to be that people with mental illnesses had a waiver,” Dr. Steven Schroeder, the Distinguished Professor of Health and Health Care at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), told Reuters Health. Schroeder, who was not involved with the new research, said some people believed psychiatric inpatients were not ready or didn’t want to quit smoking and that giving up smoking might make their conditions worse. Continue reading “Smoking and the mentally ill”
The idea of treating a psychiatric illness by passing a jolt of electricity through the brain was one of the most controversial in 20th Century medicine. So why are we still using a procedure described by its critics as barbaric and ineffective?The BBC ran a story today discussion the continuing benefits of this controversial procedure:
“Sixty-four-year-old John Wattie says his breakdown in the late 1990s was triggered by the collapse of his marriage and stress at work.
“We had a nice house and a nice lifestyle, but it was all just crumbling away. My depression was starting to overwhelm me. I lost control, I became violent,” he explains. John likens the feeling to being in a hole, a hole he could not get out of despite courses of pills and talking therapies. But now, he says, all of that has changed thanks to what is one of the least understood treatments in psychiatry – electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
“Before ECT I was the walking dead. I had no interest in life, I just wanted to disappear. After ECT I felt like there was a way out of it. I felt dramatically better.” The use of electricity to treat mental illness started out as an experiment. In the 1930s psychiatrists noticed some heavily distressed patients would suddenly improve after an epileptic fit. John Wattie on why he feels he needs ECT to keep severe depression at bay
“Passing a strong electric current through the brain could trigger a similar seizure and – they hoped – a similar response. By the 1960s it was being widely used to treat a variety of conditions, notably severe depression. But as the old mental asylums closed down and aggressive physical interventions like lobotomies fell out of favour, so too did electroshock treatment, as ECT was previously known. The infamous ECT scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest cemented the idea in the public’s mind of a brutal treatment, although by the time the film was released in 1975 it was very rarely given without a general anaesthetic. Continue reading “Continuing value of ECT”
A British study of gang members found many suffer mental health problems, primarily related to exposure to violence.
Anxiety disorders and PTSD seem to be common, reports the BBC
“Experts said opportunities to help young people were often missed.
“The research team from Queen Mary, University of London, started by surveying 4,664 men aged between 18 and 34 in Britain. Researchers included significant numbers of men from areas of the country with high gang memberships, such as Hackney and Glasgow East, from areas with high ethnic minority populations and areas of social deprivation.
“The gang members and the violent men were found to be particularly prone to mental disorders and more likely to access psychiatric services. Prof Jeremy Coid, lead study author and director of the forensic psychiatry research unit at Queen Mary, University of London, explained the likely cause.
“It is probable that, among gang members, high levels of anxiety disorder and psychosis were explained by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the most frequent psychiatric outcome of exposure to violence.” He said the fear of future violence and victimisation led young men to experience extreme anxiety. Continue reading “Gangs and mental health”
Autism is in the media spotlight these days, but for all the wrong reasons. Despite the absence of any causal connection between autistic spectrum diagnoses and propensities for violence, worries abound nevertheless following the Sandy Hook shootings. Meanwhile, children and adults with some form of autism become the subject of greater stigma – and their odds of receiving adequate care diminishes further. Autism already is highly misunderstood in terms of its origins, causes, manifestations, and treatment. Continue reading “Autism means reduced health care access”
The essay below was written by Lisa Long, not the actual mother of Adam Lanza, but a woman whose son has some of diagnoses attributed to the young man who committed the recent murders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The essay is about the complexities of living with and caring about a child whose behavior makes parental love a challenge.
“Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.
“‘I can wear these pants,”’ he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.
“‘They are navy blue,’ I told him. ‘Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.’ Continue reading ““I am” Adam Lanza’s mother”