Dissociative psychedelic Ketamine may help suicidal children

Ketamine is a short-acting dissociative anesthetic commonly used on animals and sometimes people. Of course it's also beloved by many psychonauts for its unusual dreamlike or "out of body" psychedelic effects. While Ketamine has been shown for years to help treat depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder in adults, researchers at Yale School of Medicine now report that it has great promise as a fast-acting intervention for children in crisis. From Scientific American:

It was less dramatic to watch than I expected, but the kids were definitely high. There was a lot of giggling involved, and they often said that they felt like time was changing and that their bodies felt ‘funny’ and sometimes numb. Nicole, (a suicidal 14-year-old,) admitted, “I’m not gonna lie. I like the feeling of it.”

Perhaps more dramatic than the trips themselves, which happened in a carefully controlled procedure room with a psychiatrist and anesthesiologist ready to intervene if needed, were the interviews that came after. I could see the weight of depression lifted from these patients within hours. Adolescents who were previously ready to end their own lives became bright and hopeful. Psychiatry has never seen a drug intervention so powerful and fast acting. While most anti-depressants take weeks to work and offer modest improvement, ketamine offers dramatic improvement in less than a day...

Dr. Michael Bloch, Yale child psychiatrist and principal investigator of several controlled trials for ketamine for adolescents, points out that the drug is only used for select patients who have severe mental health problems that have not responded to other medications.

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Text to Save Lives - Crisis Text Line Needs YOU!

Twice in my life I tried seeking help when I was feeling suicidal: once from an in-person counselor, and once from a phone based hotline. Both services failed to provide the support I needed, and I left the experience feeling just as bad, if not worse. Thanks to mobile technology and one great idea, we now have another option — Crisis Text Line — and they need volunteers who can text, particularly late at night, since peak crisis hours are between 8pm and 4am. Read the rest

Barbie reminds kids struggling with depression that they aren't alone

As part of its “Barbie Vlog” series, the official Barbie YouTube channel uploaded a video last year in which Barbie discusses her struggles with depression, or, as she puts it, “feeling blue.” Barbie shares some tips and tricks for getting out of a funk (going on a walk, talking to someone, etc.), but she also emphasizes that it’s okay not to feel happy all the time. As she puts it:

Sometimes I still feel blue. And then I feel guilty about feeling sad because I am supposed to be the upbeat positive one all the time. I mean, I am known as being an upbeat person… But I’m not always. And I started to think, maybe I’m just being really unfair on myself. You know? I don’t always have to be upbeat and positive. And to expect that of myself, it isn’t fair. To camouflage myself to fit into a mold of what I think I should act or feel or think, well that doesn’t help anyone. And it just gets you lost.

The video is powerful, not only because it normalizes discussions of mental health issues, but because its specifically aimed at young girls, who are at a much higher risk of depression than their male peers. In fact, a new study suggests that more than a third of teenage girls will experience depression by the time they’re 17. While the Barbie video may be just a small part of combating that problem, the ubiquity of Barbie as a cultural icon also gives her message a lot of power. Read the rest

The PrEP Diaries: A safe(r) sex memoir

The following is an excerpt from my new book, The PrEP Diaries: A Safe(r) Sex Memoir, now available from Lethe Press. The book chronicles the before-and-after of using Truvada PrEP, a recent breakthrough in HIV prevention that has prompted a new sexual revolution--except that most individuals have no idea it exists. Through sex positivity, explicit openness, and fun, I hope to make many more people aware that PrEP is an option for them in not just preventing HIV but having a better, braver sex life.

John Green discusses mental health and social media curation

In this new Vlogbrothers video, John Green discusses his OCD and the ways in which social media shapes our perception of others and, in turn, our perception of ourselves. To hear Green discuss his mental health in more detail, check out this video he made on his 100 Days channel.

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BBC documentary on LSD microdosing

BBC News has a 15 minute documentary about people who take regular tiny doses of psychedelics drugs to deal with mental health issues, improve productivity, or just better appreciate what life has to offer.

From YouTube description:

Microdosing is when you take a tiny amount of psychedelic drugs - LSD or magic mushrooms usually - as part of your ordinary day. The drugs are illegal, and there is no medical evidence to say what the benefits or harms of it may be. But a small community of people in the UK are doing it anyway, and say it’s improving their lives. Some say it aids creativity and concentration and others argue it helps with their mental health problems. BBC Reporter Catrin Nye has been meeting the people that do it.

Here's my interview with Ayelet Waldman, who microdosed for a month and wrote a book about it called A Really Good Day. Read the rest

Facebook use is a predictor of depression

A pair of social scientists from UCSD and Yale conducted an NIH study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology on the link between Facebook use and mental health, drawing on data from the Gallup Panel Social Network Study combined with "objective measures of Facebook use" and self-reported data for 5,208 subjects, and concluded that increased Facebook use is causally linked with depression. Read the rest

Public entomologists struggle with an epidemic of delusional parasitosis

Dr Gale Ridge is a public entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, where an average of 23 people a day call, write or visit; an increasing proportion of them aren't inquiring about actual insects, they're suffering from delusional parasitosis, and they're desperate and even suicidal. Read the rest

Insiders: America's largest chain of psych hospitals kidnaps people seeking care, drugs and holds them until they're out of insurance

Universal Health Services (UHS) is the largest chain of psychiatric facilities in the USA, with 2.5x more beds than its closest competitor, and dozens of whistleblowers from inside the company told a Buzzfeed reporter that they were pressured to find pretenses to lock up people who voluntarily presented for assessments, holding them against their will until their insurance ran out, with massive bonuses for executives who increased profits (and much smaller bonuses for execs who improved health outcomes for patients). Read the rest

Letter to my black daughter under a Trump presidency

Hi Kid,

On Election Night, you went to bed crying, and this time, I couldn't fix it. Like half the country, you thought you would be going to bed with your candidate as the president-elect. I wiped away a big, globby tear from the end of your nose, proud of you for caring so deeply about your country. I said it was going to be OK. I explained that, "politics goes back and forth, and this year it just wasn't our turn. Remember when I was for Obama and you were for Hillary, and she lost the primary, but you ended up liking Obama?" Your thirteen year-old defiance broke through your tears, as you declared, "No, this is different!"

You then spouted off a litany of things I didn't know you thought much about:

"It's different because Donald Trump doesn't have the basic morals of everything our country stands for. He doesn't even have the morals of a normal Republican. It's not that the other side won. It's that the person who won is literally against half of the people in the country. He doesn't like Muslims, Mexicans, anyone who is LGBT, he definitely doesn't like women, or people of color. He doesn't like ME. It seems like he only likes people like himself -- white males. How can he be our president?"

He's our president because people voted for him and he won the election. I will be raising you under a Donald Trump presidency until you go to college in four years. Read the rest

New book explores abandoned asylums

Photographer Matt Van der Velde traveled the U.S. to document his upcoming book Abandoned Asylums. Most of the locations featured are still in fairly pristine states because entry is restricted by the private or governmental owners of the properties. Read the rest

Blackballed by machine learning: how algorithms can destroy your chances of getting a job

The Guardian's published a long excerpt from Cathy O'Neil's essential new book, Weapons of Math Destruction, in which O'Neil describes the way that shoddy machine-learning companies have come to dominate waged employment hiring, selling their dubious products to giant companies that use them to decide who can and can't work. Read the rest

Study confirms a physical correlate to PTSD: "brown dust" in the brain

Since WWI, doctors have speculated that PTSD's underlying cause was some sort of physical damage caused by blast-waves from bombs, which literally shook loose something important in the brains of sufferers. Read the rest

Homeless in Seattle: five essays

Peter Wieben's five-part series on homelessness in Seattle doesn't try to capture any kind of overarching truth or objective stock-taking of the problem (Seattle is now notorious for its tent cities). Rather, it consists of a series of sharply observed, dryly recounted personal stories from the people he meets, which range from heartbreaking to infuriating.

The conversion of shelter into an asset class has incentivized local governments to make it more expensive, which is a disaster for nearly everyone, except literal rentiers. Combine that with the recasting of poverty as a moral failing and the disappearance of stable employment opportunities and you're well on the way to turning cities into armed standoffs between the fingernail-clinging haves and the have-nots, whose misery only serves to spur the haves to cling harder.

Wieben beautifully captures the difficulty of confronting homelessness in all our lives: the combination of mistrust and sympathy, empathy and helplessness, frustration and affection.

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part I) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part II) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part III) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part IV) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part V) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

(via Metafilter) Read the rest

Human advice for exercising while depressed

Sarah Kurchak, a personal trainer who has experienced clinical depression, offers the most humane advice for using exercise you're likely to find. Read the rest

House passes bill to help children who are born hooked on opioids

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed legislation to improve safety planning for babies born dependent on opioid drugs.

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Barack Obama ends solitary confinement for juveniles in federal custody

Obama wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post (bio: "Barack Obama is president of the United States") explaining his suite of penal reform policies, which begin with ending the barbaric practice of putting children into solitary confinement, deemed a form of torture, "an affront to our common humanity." Read the rest

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