General

Free Mental Health Care Makes Financial Sense

Often people fret about who will pay for "free" healthcare. One solution more communities should look at is a private-public partnership between the local hospital and the government.

In Orange County, Florida, a mental health clinic that opened in 2010 has served over 1,100 patients. And they did it without charging a dime to the poor, uninsured patients they serve.

How does this make any fiscal sense? You may be surprised by the answer.

Continue Reading

Addiction

Alcoholism & Depression: Frenemies Forever

I’ve heard a thousand variations of this problem: “My brother is depressed, but he also drinks a lot, which is probably causing the depression. So which do you treat first? The alcoholism or the depression?”

The two conditions are so intertwined that it can be impossible to separate them.

Just last week I met with an executive director of a behavioral health program here in Annapolis. We were discussing how to start a faith-based initiative.

“Should we also include substance abuse?” he asked.
Continue Reading

Disorders

Schizophrenia is Best Treated with Combination of Meds & Psychotherapy

Going against decades of conventional wisdom, new, robust research from the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that schizophrenia shouldn't just be treated with antipsychotic drugs. Instead, a multidisciplinary approach that includes both psychotherapy and family support, combined with lower doses of antipsychotic medications, appears to work much better than drugs alone.

This new research should act as a wake-up call to all mental health professionals, people with schizophrenia, and their families.

Continue Reading

Addiction

In-Depth: The Curious Websites of American Addiction Centers, Including MentalHelp.net

Continuing the tradition of questionable online marketing practices by addiction treatment centers -- which are a huge and growing industry -- the company behind American Addiction Centers (AAC Holdings, Inc., ticker: AAC) over the summer acquired a little online marketing company that virtually nobody had heard of: Referral Solutions Group (RSG). The company was acquired by AAC for $32 million in cash in addition to stock.

Referral Solutions Group (now known as Sober Media Group) operates a whole bevy of websites, including everything run by Recovery Brands. But on most websites run by this group today, you won't see any mention of who owns or operates the site.

Why would a company seemingly want to hide the fact that they own or operate a particular website? It's anyone's guess, but it appears such actions are meant to make it seem like a website is independent and not associated with any particular treatment center.

This illusion of independence is important, in my opinion. As a consumer, if you go to a website and believe it's not affiliated with a treatment center, I suspect you're more likely to use its treatment referral hotline or directory. And if you're on one of these websites operated by AAC Holdings, you may even get a referral to an American Addiction Centers treatment facility.

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

More Basic Information for Trauma Survivors

In my last post I presented reasons why trauma survivors often fail to get the support they need, what it feels like after trauma, how easy it is to misdiagnose trauma, and how valuable psychoeducation can be. In this post I suggest important reminders and a list of things you can do after trauma that will lead you toward trauma integration.

Trauma also brings emergence of new life .

The moment that you experienced trauma, your survival system called upon unused personal resources to help you survive. It continues to do so. Most trauma survivors are barely conscious of the strengths they have already displayed in coping with trauma. These are innate survival instincts that have helped you to hold on to life even at its most challenging. They are an important source of energy in your trauma integration process.

Continue Reading

General

Where is Dignity for Rural, Low Income Countries Like Nepal?

This year's World Mental Health Day theme, "Dignity in Mental Health," reminds me of a particular patient that I had seen in my second year of residency in Nepal. For the sake of this story, let's call her Nina (not her real name).

Nina was a middle-aged woman from a hilly village of Nepal. According to her relatives, she had been showing some psychotic behaviors for the last three years. Because of these strange behaviors, most of the time she was restrained with a rope and shut in a shabby hut. This had been going on for more than two years. Her ropes were only undone for eating and toileting purposes.

Continue Reading

Addiction

Bipolar Disorder and Drug Abuse

It’s very common to find people with bipolar using drugs of one kind or another. If you were to experience the constant interference, disruption and pain that bipolar brings about, you would understand why one would resort to using drugs. Bipolar disorder makes it hard to get up in the morning, hard to hold a conversation and almost impossible for many to hold down a job. With problems like these it’s no wonder that medication is abandoned in favor of street drugs.

You see, medication doesn’t always quite hit the spot. Medical teams and patients spend years trying to find the right balance of medication. In the meantime, the patient suffers emotionally and psychologically. Often there is little support during this period as the patient is half better and looks okay -- so they must be okay, right? Wrong. That’s not the case at all. We can look fine and feel horrendous.
Continue Reading

Caregivers

Is Your Therapist Helping You Enough?

Is your weekly appointment just a time to vent? What do you do when your therapy seems to be going nowhere?

Chances are you came to therapy because you wanted something you felt you couldn’t achieve on your own. You were unhappy or discouraged; maybe you felt hopeless about your career or relationship. You sought change. So you searched for a therapist, paid your hard-earned money, and started examining your life.
Continue Reading

Depression

Can You Treat Depression with an App?

With the proliferation of health tracking apps, it's no surprise to see dozens being offered to help treat people with depressive symptoms. (No app has been FDA-approved or scientifically proven to actually treat depression.)

The New York Times asks four experts and researchers in this area whether you can treat depression with an app in their latest Room for Debate. It's an interesting discussion worth the read.

Continue Reading

Addiction

6 Surprising Myths of Inpatient Residential Rehab

We've all seen the commercials: gentle, soothing music playing over a reassuring voice that tells you that this specific rehab center is going to change your life. Because, after all, it's changed his.

Inpatient rehab centers offer treatment for people with substance abuse or alcohol disorders. Most are intensive, requiring patients to live in their facility 24 hours a day for 30 days. And it is a gold mine for those who run such addiction recovery centers.

The Carlat Report: Addiction Treatment's July/August 2015 issue is devoted to the topic of understanding treatment for alcoholism and substance abuse. It also offers an eye-opening interview with the former director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Here we run down some of the myths we gleaned from the issue about residential rehab.

Continue Reading