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Mad in America: Science News
Mad in America
A monthly summary of newly published research findings in psychiatry, psychology and mental health. Presented by Mad in America's Peter Simons.
Aug 4, 2022
Science News: No Link Between Serotonin and Depression - What Does That Mean for Antidepressants?
In this 30-minute podcast, Peter Simons reports on the latest scientific articles in psychiatry. The goal is to provide more detail than is usually found in conventional research news and to help listeners understand how to interpret the findings. This month, Peter Simons covers in detail a new systematic review that debunks the widely popularized myth of low serotonin in depression, the “chemical imbalance theory.” He then follows up with a study that found less than 25% of people respond to depression treatment in real life, and a study that found that screening for depression in adolescents is ineffective. * No Evidence Low Serotonin Causes Depression * Response to Criticism of Our Serotonin Paper * Less Than a Quarter of Those with Depression Respond to Treatment in Real Life * Psychiatric Drugs Do Not Improve Disease or Reduce Mortality * Screening for Depression in Adolescents Does Not Prevent Hospitalizations or Suicide Attempts
Jun 2, 2022
Science News: Pharma Corruption, Dangers of Antidepressants, And More
In this 30-minute podcast, Peter Simons reports on the latest scientific articles in psychiatry. The goal is to provide more detail than is usually found in conventional research news and to help listeners understand how to interpret the findings. Articles covered in this podcast include: * How the mental health app Cerebral is facing accusations of dangerous and unethical practices; * How Biogen withdrew its European application for failed Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab; * How pharma company Cassava was the subject of a New York Times exposé on its Alzheimer’s research and outcome data; * How social media influencers are the new pharma marketers; * Researchers document how psychiatric textbooks and reviews endorsed the chemical imbalance myth; * A study finding that antidepressants don’t improve quality of life; * A study on antidepressants’ dangerous effects on the fetus if taken during pregnancy; * A paper explaining the difference between antidepressant withdrawal and relapse; * A paper on the dangers of benzodiazepine withdrawal; * A study finding that a sense of meaningfulness in life protects against mental distress; and * A paper by Joanna Moncrieff on the ties between the commodified mental health system and neoliberal capitalism.
May 5, 2022
Science News: Psychology: Flawed as a Science and as Evidence-Based Medicine
In this 30-minute podcast, Peter Simons reports on the latest scientific articles in psychiatry. The goal is to provide more detail than is usually found in conventional research news and to help listeners understand how to interpret the findings. Articles covered in this podcast include: * Researchers write that “psychology is fundamentally incompatible with hypothesis-driven theoretical science”; * Researchers suggest that “evidence-based medicine” is more corporate gimmick than reliable science; * Psychiatrists deliver the lowest-quality healthcare of any medical specialty; * A report by the Council of Europe promotes non-coercive mental health treatment; * Black patients in the US were more than twice as likely to be described negatively in electronic health records; * A peer-supported Open Dialogue program shows early success in the UK; * Antipsychotics are often prescribed without informed consent; * Antidepressants are ineffective for children and adolescents; * Psychiatric drugs increase dementia risk threefold after COVID in 65+ population; and * Official guidelines on antidepressant discontinuation fail practitioners and patients.
Apr 7, 2022
Science News: Brain Imaging Results False; Unpublished and Missing Trials; Why Meditation May Not Work for You
Peter Simons covers a study in Nature finding that the positive results of psychiatry’s brain imaging studies are false; a study demonstrating that more than half of negative antidepressant trials remain unpublished or are misleadingly “spun” as positive; an article that may explain why some people don’t find meditation to be helpful; and more! * Nature: Brain Imaging Studies Are Most Likely False * Negative Antidepressant Trials Still Unlikely to Be Published * Did Pharma Companies Hide Failed ADHD Drug Studies From Regulators? * Study Discovers Extensive Undisclosed Conflicts of Interest in Medical Research * Esketamine: Dangers and Lingering Questions * Antipsychotics Worsen Cognitive Functioning in First-Episode Psychosis * Your Mindset Matters When You Meditate
Mar 3, 2022
Science News: How Effective Are Therapy and Medication, and What Do They Treat?
Peter Simons covers a study that found both therapy and medication to have very limited effectiveness; an article suggesting that general practitioners need to prescribe fewer antidepressants; a study that concluded no brain imaging test has been able to identify a meaningful brain difference in depression; and more! * Major Review Finds Limited Effectiveness for Medication and Therapy * Family Physicians Must Change Antidepressant Prescribing Practices * SSRI Antidepressants Do Not Improve Depression After a Stroke * Clinicians and Patients Often Disagree on Mental Health Outcomes * No Meaningful Brain Differences in Depression * Shifting Away from ECT and Antidepressants for Depression
Feb 10, 2022
Science News: Lithium, Antidepressants, Esketamine—All No Better Than Placebo?
Peter Simons covers a clinical trial that found lithium ineffective at preventing suicide attempts, an essay by Allen Frances on the overdiagnosis of depression and overprescription of antidepressants, a review of the ineffectiveness and dangers of antidepressants, and an analysis that revealed that esketamine failed five of its six clinical trials. * Lithium No Better Than Placebo for Preventing Suicide Attempts * New Review: Antidepressants Come with Minimal Benefits, Several Risks * Allen Frances Takes on the Over-Prescription of Antidepressants * Esketamine Failed in Five of its Six Efficacy Trials * Ketamine Withdrawal Has Severe Consequences * New Study of Ayahuasca Users Shows Placebo Effect in Action
Jan 5, 2022
Science News: Unscientific Diagnoses Medicalize Normal Human Experiences
Peter Simons covers articles about the validity of psychiatric diagnoses, the medicalization of normal human experiences like grief, and how the pharmaceutical industry co-opts feminist messaging to gain approval for ineffective drugs. * Kenneth Kendler: “Implausible” That Psychiatric Diagnoses Even “Approximately True” * Neurobiological Explanations Can Foreclose Self-Understanding * Medicalizing Grief May Threaten Our Ability to Mourn * Research Reveals Mental Health Professionals’ Participation in Rape Culture * Why the FDA Approved Ineffective Drugs for Low Sexual Desire in Women * Overuse of Psychiatric Drugs is Worsening Public Mental Health, Doctor Argues
Nov 23, 2021
Science News: Antidepressant Research - Placebos and Withdrawal
This week, Peter Simons covers a study about the controversial practice of placebo run-in periods in antidepressant studies, a study about withdrawal symptoms being mistaken for relapse, and a book chapter that addresses stigma and discrimination. * Researchers Push to End Placebo Run-in Periods in Antidepressant Studies * Withdrawal Symptoms Cloud Findings of Antidepressant “Relapse” Trial * Experiences of Prejudice and Discrimination in Mental Healthcare
Nov 9, 2021
Science News: Reducing Stigma/Psychotherapy for Depression in Children
This week, Peter Simons covers studies examining whether mental health literacy and essentialist thinking are associated with stigma against those with mental health problems. He also covers a study finding that psychotherapy is ineffective for the majority of children with depression. * Mental Health Literacy Does Not Reduce Stigma, Psychosocial Approaches More Promising * Essentialist Thinking May Drive Stigma Against People Diagnosed with Schizophrenia * Meta-analysis of Psychotherapy in Children Finds Lackluster Long Term Results
Oct 26, 2021
Science News: Antipsychotics and Cancer, Screening for Depression, and Alzheimer's Drug Controversy
This week, Peter Simons covers a study that found prolactin-increasing antipsychotics associated with increased breast cancer risk, an analysis that found no convincing evidence that screening for depression improves outcomes, and the continuing controversy around the FDA's approval of Biogen's failed Alzheimer's drug aducanumab. * Antipsychotics Linked to Increased Breast Cancer Risk * Screening for Depression in Primary Care Does Not Improve Outcomes * Alzheimer’s Drug Controversy Continues
Oct 5, 2021
Science News: Antipsychotics and Dementia, Antidepressant Effects on Serotonin
This week, Peter Simons covers studies on the biological mechanism behind antipsychotic drugs' association with dementia; surprising brain imaging findings with implications for antidepressant effectiveness; bias in the psychotherapy literature; and the trauma caused by involuntary treatment of people with psychosis. * Antipsychotics Increase Risk of Dementia; New Research Illuminates Why * Antidepressant Effects on Serotonin Plateau at the Minimum Recommended Dose * Selective Reporting Inflates Effectiveness for Psychotherapy Depression Treatments * Psychosis Associated with Childhood and Health Care-Related Traumas
Sep 21, 2021
Science News: Conflicts of Interest Create Biased Medical Research
This week, Peter Simons covers three studies about financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry in editorial and commentary writers in medical journals. These conflicts of interest create biased research literature that helps pharma push potentially harmful and less effective drugs. * Conflicts of Interest Linked to“Unduly Favorable” Editorials * Conflicts of Interest in Medical Commentaries Undermine Credibility of Major Journals * How Pharma Pushes New, Less Effective Drugs on the Market
Sep 14, 2021
Science News: Industry Influence on Drug Regulators
This week, Peter Simons covers two articles about the pharmaceutical industry's influence on drug regulators, and an article finding that newborn babies experience antidepressant withdrawal if their mothers took SSRIs while pregnant. * 75% of Pharma Companies Fail Basic Transparency Measures * How to Address the Undermining of Drug Regulators by Pharma * Newborn Babies Go Through Antidepressant Withdrawal
Sep 7, 2021
Science News: Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, Not Relapse
This week, Peter Simons covers three new articles which suggest that “relapse” in the drug trials for both antidepressants and antipsychotics is likely caused by sudden withdrawal. This contradicts the notion that the drugs have protective effects against relapse. * “Relapse” in Antidepressant Trials Likely Caused by Sudden Withdrawal * Sudden Antipsychotic Withdrawal—Not Low Dose—Leads to Relapse * Tapered Antipsychotic Withdrawal Mitigates Risk of Psychotic Symptoms
Aug 31, 2021
Science News: Biogen and the FDA
This week, Peter Simons covers a BMJ investigation that found the FDA's "accelerated approval" process has left ineffective drugs on the market, some for more than 20 years, without follow-up studies to demonstrate efficacy. He also covers further developments in the FDA and Biogen controversy around Alzheimer's drug aducanumab (Aduhelm). * FDA’s “Accelerated Approval” Process Leaves Ineffective Drugs on the Market * Do we all have Alzheimer’s? Drug makers might want you to think so * Biogen pulled Aduhelm paper after JAMA demanded edits * Acting FDA Chief Janet Woodcock Ruled Out as Biden Nominee * Sage Therapeutics axes 2 zuranolone trials deemed unnecessary for approval in depression
Aug 24, 2021
Science News: Fraudulent Health Research
This week, Peter Simons covers a BMJ story that concluded 20% of health research is fraudulent, as well as a Lancet Psychiatry piece that critiques the research on long-acting injectable antipsychotics and debunks the claim that they are better than regular oral antipsychotics. * BMJ: 20% of Health Research Is Fraudulent * Researchers Debate Benefits of Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotics
Aug 4, 2021
Science News: Two Critiques of Psychiatry's Medical Model
This week, Peter Simons covers two articles in which researchers critique the medical model of psychiatry and propose alternatives. * Researchers Critique the Medical Model, Propose an Alternative * Medical Sociologist Details the Failures of American Psychiatry
Jul 13, 2021
Science News: FDA Update, ADHD, Poverty and Suicide, and Antidepressant Withdrawal
This week, Peter Simons provides an update on the FDA's controversial approval of Alzheimer's drug aducanumab, a new guideline for psychoeducation about ADHD, a study linking poverty rates and youth suicide, and an article providing essential information about antidepressant withdrawal. * Federal Investigation into FDA Approval of Alzheimer’s Drug * Guideline for Education about ADHD * Poverty Rates in US Counties Predict Youth Suicide Risk * Four Essential Studies on Antidepressant Withdrawal Every Prescriber Must Read
Jun 29, 2021
Science News: Screening Harms, No Genes for Suicide, and Animals for Grief Support
This week, Peter Simons covers an article from a trauma survivor who describes the harms of screening, an article that found no genetic links to suicide risk, and an article that found animals were far better than humans at supporting grieving people. * A Trauma Survivor Explains the Harms of Screening * Study Finds No Genetic Correlations with Suicide Risk * Pets More Effective for Grief Support than Humans, Study Finds
Jun 15, 2021
Science News: FDA Approves Failed Drug Against Advisory Committee Recommendation
This week, Peter Simons covers the latest news on the FDA's approval of failed Alzheimer's drug aducanumab, against the recommendation of its own advisory committee, which led to three members of the committee resigning in protest. He also covers an article confirming yet again that the FDA's black box warning that antidepressants can cause suicide did not increase suicides. Finally, he covers a study that reveals what exactly service users value about hearing voices groups, and why they are so important. * FDA Approves Failed Drug Against Advisory Committee Recommendation * No, the FDA’s Black Box Warning Did Not Increase Suicides * Qualitative Study Highlights the Meaning and Impact of Hearing Voices Groups
Jun 8, 2021
Science News: Psychotherapy Can Prevent Relapse When Discontinuing Antidepressants
This week, Peter Simons covers an article finding that short, simple psychotherapy when discontinuing antidepressants is just as good at preventing relapse as continuing the drug. He also covers a study that found little difference in inflammation between people with and without the depression diagnosis. Finally, he covers a study finding that non-replicable studies are cited more often than replicable studies in the social sciences. Psychotherapy Can Prevent Relapse When Discontinuing Antidepressants https://www.madinamerica.com/2021/05/disentangling-link-inflammation-depression/ Disentangling the Link Between Inflammation and Depression https://www.madinamerica.com/2021/05/disentangling-link-inflammation-depression/ Hype Trumps Rigorous Science in Social Science Publications https://www.madinamerica.com/2021/06/hype-trumps-rigorous-science-social-science-publications/ Visit madinamerica.com for more news, articles and research updates. V2
May 25, 2021
Science News: Anticholinergic Medications Linked to Cognitive Impairment
This week, Peter Simons covers an article finding that anticholinergic drugs are linked to cognitive impairment, an article by Allen Frances about overprescription of antidepressants, and an article warning about reductionistic assumptions about biomarkers in psychiatry. Anticholinergic Medications Linked to Cognitive Impairment in Schizophrenia Allen Frances Takes on the Over-Prescription of Antidepressants We Need Clear Thinking About Biomarkers in Psychiatry to Avoid Bioreductionism Visit madinamerica.com for more news, articles and research updates.
May 18, 2021
Science News: Ethical Issues Raised Over FDA Collaboration with Biogen on Failed Drug
This week, Peter Simons covers an article in JAMA by FDA advisory committee members that reveals ethical issues with the FDA's collaboration with pharmaceutical company Biogen to re-analyze their two failed trials of Alzheimer's disease drug aducanumab. He also covers a study that found that viewing mental health as a continuum reduces stigma. * Ethical Issues Raised Over FDA Collaboration with Biogen on Failed Drug * Viewing Mental Differences on a Continuum Reduces Stigma Visit madinamerica.com for more news, articles and research updates.
May 11, 2021
Science News: Do Men Just Need to Talk to Prevent Suicide?
This week, Peter Simons covers a study that found evidence for overdiagnosis of ADHD in children and adolescents, a study about suicide prevention in men, and findings regarding race and gender in PTSD. * Study Confirms Overdiagnosis of ADHD in Children and Teens * Encouraging Men to Talk about Suicide can Miss the Point * Racial and Gender Discrimination Impacts PTSD Severity Visit madinamerica.com for more news, articles and research updates.
May 4, 2021
Science News: Antidepressant Withdrawal, Antidepressants for Back Pain, and the Impact of Debt on Mental Health
This week, Peter Simons covers a Cochrane review that found no good evidence on how antidepressant withdrawal, a study that found that antidepressants are not useful for back pain, and a study that found that having financial debt led to later mental health problems. * Cochrane Review Calls for More Research on Antidepressant Withdrawal * Antidepressants Not Clinically Useful for Back Pain * Financial Debt Predicts Poor Mental Health Outcomes Visit madinamerica.com for more news, articles and research updates.
Apr 28, 2021
Science News: Publication Bias and Outcome Reporting Bias Common in Psychiatry Research
This week, Peter Simons covers a study that found the validity of RCTs on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder treatments is very often severely compromised by publication bias and outcome reporting bias. He also covers a study that finds that no models, including clinical judgment or machine learning, are able to successfully predict suicide risk. Finally, he covers a paper that addresses the lack of guidance available for discontinuing psychiatric drugs. * Misreporting Results and Publication Bias Common in Psychiatry Research * Mental Health Professionals and AI Tools Fail to Predict Suicide * Lack of Guidance Available for Discontinuing Psychiatric Drugs Visit madinamerica.com for more news, articles and research updates.
Apr 20, 2021
Science News: Stimulant Prescribing Patterns Are Not Impacted by Scientific Evidence
This week, Peter Simons covers a study that found prescribing rates for ADHD drugs did not increase after positive evidence from the MTA study was published, nor decrease when negative evidence from the same study's long-term arm was published. He also covers a study that found physician disclosure of financial conflicts of interest has not changed behavior to reduce industry bias. * Stimulant Prescribing Patterns for ADHD Not Impacted by Scientific Evidence * Transparency is Not Enough to Stem Tide of Pharma Influence on Medicine Visit madinamerica.com for more news, articles and research updates.
Apr 13, 2021
Science News: Does Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Reduce Suicide?
This week, Peter Simons covers a study of almost 15,000 ECT users which found that the treatment did not reduce suicide risk compared with usual care, as well as an audit of ECT use in England which found very little oversight and a lack of outcome measures. He also covers a pharmaceutical industry-sponsored study that tested a new way to reduce the placebo effect so that newly developed drugs appear more effective. * New Study Finds ECT Ineffective for Reducing Suicide Risk * Audit of Electroconvulsive Therapy Reveals Poor Administration and Monitoring * Researchers Attempt to Reduce the Placebo Effect in Drug Trials Visit madinamerica.com for more news, articles and research updates.
Apr 6, 2021
Science News: First Scientific Guidance on Tapering Antipsychotics Published
This week, Peter Simons covers the first peer-reviewed scientific article with specific guidance for discontinuing antipsychotic drugs, a study that found transcranial magnetic stimulation no better than sham treatment for bipolar disorder, and an FDA drug safety communication about the risk of heart arrhythmias with anticonvulsant drug lamotrigine (Lamictal). * Major Publication on Tapering Antipsychotics Released * Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Ineffective for People with Bipolar Disorder * FDA Drug Safety Communication for lamotrigine Visit madinamerica.com for more news, articles and research updates.
Apr 3, 2021
Science News: Study Finds Antidepressants Increase Suicide Risk
This week, Peter Simons covers an article that finds antidepressants linked with increased suicide risk, an article that describes the ways in which doctors misdiagnose antidepressant withdrawal as medically unexplained symptoms or functional neurological disorders, and an article that finds that being involuntary hospitalized reduces trust in authority figures and makes young people less likely to seek further treatment. * Antidepressants Still Linked to Increased Suicide Risk * Involuntary Hospitalization Deters Youth from Seeking Mental Healthcare * Antidepressant Withdrawal Misdiagnosed as Functional Disorder Visit madinamerica.com for more news, articles and research updates.