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Archive for January 19th, 2012


Unlike most modern countries, the Autism Spectrum in France is viewed as a disease that can and should be cured. The dark-ages culture of neglect and abuse remains extremely strong. The documentary The Wall or Psychoanalysis Put to the Test for Autism reveals how outdated theories haunt Autism there.

David Heurtevent is a 32 year-old autistic self-advocate from France. He has travelled extensively and even got a degree from Georgetown. We invited him to share his views on the issue of autism in France and to explain how you too can help.



Blue Sun


By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor


“Depression is an illness that requires a good deal of self-care,” writes psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD, in her excellent book Living with Depression: Why Biology and Biography Matter along the Path to Hope and Healing.


But this might seem easier said than done, because when you have depression, the idea of taking care of anything feels like adding another boulder to your already heavy load. Serani understands firsthand the pain and exhaustion of depression. In addition to helping clients manage their depression, Serani works to manage her own, and shares her experiences in Living with Depression.


If you’re feeling better, you might ditch certain self-care habits, too. Maybe you skip a few therapy sessions, miss your medication or shirk other treatment tools. According to Serani, as some people improve, they get relaxed about their treatment plan, and before they know it are blinded to the warning signs and suffer a relapse.


Because skimping on self-care is a slippery slope to relapse, Serani provides readers with effective tips in her book. As a whole, the best things you can do to stave off relapse are to stick to your treatment plan and create a healthy environment. I’ve summarized her valuable suggestions below.


1. Attend your therapy sessions. As you’re feeling better, you might be tempted to skip a session or two or five. Instead, attend all sessions, and discuss your reluctance with your therapist. If changes are warranted, Serani says, you and your therapist can make the necessary adjustments.


Either way, discussing your reluctance can bring about important insights. As Serani writes:

Personally, the times I skipped sessions with my therapist showed me that I was avoiding profound subjects — or that I was reacting defensively to something in my life. Talking instead of walking showed me how self-defeating patterns were operating and that I needed to address these tendencies.


2. Take your meds as prescribed. Missing a dose can interfere with your medication’s effectiveness, and your symptoms might return. Alcohol and drugs also can mess with your meds. Stopping medication altogether might trigger discontinuation syndrome. If you’d like to stop taking your medication, don’t do it on your own. Talk with your prescribing physician so you can get off your medication slowly and properly.


Serani is diligent about taking her antidepressant medication and talks with her pharmacist frequently to make sure that over-the-counter medicines don’t interfere. With the help of her doctor, Serani was able to stop taking her medication. But her depression eventually returned. She writes:

…At first, it was upsetting to think that my neurobiology required ongoing repair and that I’d be one of the 20 percent of individuals who need medication for the rest of their lives. Over time, I came to view my depression as a chronic condition — one that required me to take medication much like a child with diabetes takes insulin, an adult with epilepsy takes antiseizure medication, or someone with poor eyesight wears glasses…


3. Get enough sleep.  Sleep has a big impact on mood disorders. As Serani explains, too little sleep exacerbates mania and too much sleep worsens depression. So it’s important to keep a consistent sleep and wake cycle along with maintaining healthy sleeping habits.


Sometimes adjusting your medication can help with sleep. Your doctor might prescribe a different dose or have you take your medication at a different time. For instance, when Serani started taking Prozac, one of the side effects was insomnia. Her doctor suggested taking the medication in the morning, and her sleeping problems dissipated.


For Serani, catnaps help with her fatigue. But she caps her naps at 30 minutes. She also doesn’t tackle potentially stressful tasks before bed, such as paying bills or making big decisions.


(If you’re struggling with insomnia, here’s an effective solution, which doesn’t have the side effects of sleep aids.)


4. Get moving. Depression’s debilitating and depleting effects make it difficult to get up and get moving. Serani can relate to these effects. She writes:

The lethargy of depression can make exercise seem like impossibility. I know, I grew roots and collected dust when I was anchored to my depression. I can still recall how getting out of bed was a feat in and of itself. I could barely fight gravity to sit up. My body was so heavy and everything hurt.


But moving helps decrease depression. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, start small with gentle movements like stretching, deep breathing, taking a shower or doing household chores. When you can, add more active activities such as walking, yoga or playing with your kids or whatever it is you enjoy.


It might help to get support, too. For instance, Serani scheduled walking dates with her neighbors. She also prefers to run errands and do household chores every day so she’s moving regularly.


5. Eat well. We know that nourishing our bodies with vitamins and minerals is key to our health. The same is true for depression. Poor nutrition can actually exacerbate exhaustion and impact cognition and mood.


Still, you might be too exhausted to shop for groceries or make meals. Serani suggests checking out online shopping options. Some local markets and stores will offer delivery services. Or you can ask your loved ones to cook a few meals for you. Another option is Meals-on-Wheels, which some religious and community organizations offer.


6. Know your triggers. In order to prevent relapse, it’s important to know what pushes your buttons and worsens your functioning. For instance, Serani is selective with the people she lets into her life, makes sure to keep a balanced calendar, doesn’t watch violent or abuse-laden films (the movie “Sophie’s Choice” sidelined her for weeks) and has a tough time tolerating loud or excessively stimulating environments.


Once you pinpoint your triggers, express them to others so your boundaries are honored.


7. Avoid people who are toxic. Toxic individuals are like emotional vampires, who “suck the life out of you,” according to Serani. They may be envious, judgmental and competitive. If you can’t stop seeing these people in general, limit your exposure and try having healthier individuals around when you’re hanging out with the toxic ones.


Read in Full:

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/01/18/9-ways-to-take-care-of-yourself-when-you-have-depression/




By John M. Grohol, PsyD
Founder & Editor-in-Chief


“Mary Moe,” a mom with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in Massachusetts, hasn’t had a great past few months. In October, she showed up at a local hospital emergency room and was found to be pregnant. Mary Moe is on medication for her psychiatric concerns. Doctors who examined her in the E.R. concluded that taking her off the medication would be risky for her, given her pregnancy.


But unlike a lot of people with psychiatric disorders, Mary Moe apparently didn’t have the same freedoms you and I take for granted. Such as the freedom to decide what to do with our own bodies.


Or whether to give birth if we’re pregnant.


In Mary Moe’s case, the state Department of Mental Health intervened on behalf of Mary’s parents. They filed a petition to have the woman’s parents named as guardians. Why?


So the parents could give their consent for an abortion.


Then it got even more scarier when the case ended up in a local Massachusetts courtroom and the judge sided with the parents. And went one step further…

 

Mary Moe (a pseudonym) has been pregnant twice before. In the first pregnancy, she had an abortion. In the second she gave birth to the boy. The boy is now in her parent’s custody.


According to the report in The Boston Globe, at some point “between her abortion and the birth of her son, she had a “psychotic break’’ and has since been hospitalized numerous times for mental illness, court records say.”


Once you get into the public mental health system in this way, things can go downhill quick when it’s not just your life in the balance.


Norfolk judge Christina Harms, now retired, had to decide this gut-wrenching case. I would assume she might take into account Mary Moe’s wishes about wanting to keep the baby:

[Mary Moe] described herself to court officials as “very Catholic,’’ and said she would never have an abortion. When asked about an abortion at a December hearing, she replied that she “wouldn’t do that.’’

 

So what did Judge Harms rule?


Read More …

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/01/19/judge-ruled-mentally-ill-woman-should-get-an-abortion-sterilized/




ScienceDaily (Jan. 17, 2012) — A team of Australian researchers has come a step closer to unlocking a mystery that causes epileptic seizures in babies.


Benign familial infantile epilepsy (BFIE) has been recognised for some time as infantile seizures, without fever, that run in families but the cause has so far eluded researchers. However clinical researchers at the University of Melbourne and Florey Neurosciences Institute and molecular geneticists at the University of South Australia have discovered a gene.


BFIE is a disorder that occurs in previously healthy infants who are developing normally. Seizures commence when a baby is about six months old and stop by the age of two years. BFIE is a rare form of epilepsy with the Australian researchers having studied about 40 families from around the world. Some of the children with this gene abnormality develop an unusual movement disorder later in childhood or adolescence called Paroxysmal Kinesigenic Choreoathetosis (PKC).


This movement disorder causes sudden, brief stiffening or twisting of their muscles as the person starts to move, for instance, people with this condition often have difficulty crossing the road when the traffic lights change to green. While this condition can be easily controlled by medication, it impacts on quality of life and may prevent people from participating in some activities.


Families with this condition have now been found to carry a variation in a gene called PRRT2, which may cause the protein the gene encodes to form incorrectly. The function of this gene is not yet known nor is it understood how the changes in this gene cause an infant to have seizures. This gene discovery provides valuable opportunities for learning more about brain function and what causes seizures.


Read in Full:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120117145459.htm