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Voice Awards 2010: Interview with Fredrick Frese, Ph.D.

Last week, I had the opportunity to report from SAMHSA's annual Voice Awards in Hollywood and to interview one of the consumer leadership award winners. Frederick Frese, Ph.D. is a psychologist with more than 40 years experience in public mental health care. Until 1995, Frese was Director of Psychology for 15 years at Western Reserve Psychiatric Hospital. Now he is the Coordinator of the Summit County Recovery Project, serving recovering consumers in and around Akron, OH.

Dr. John M. Grohol: So you've had a distinguished career, but it all seemed to start with your diagnosis of schizophrenia when you joined the Marines.

Dr. Frederick Frese: Actually, I was in the Marine Corps for about four years when I had the diagnosis and was discharged. Then spent 10 years, in 10 different hospitals, being hospitalized and re‑hospitalized, at one point being committed as insane. Then I went back to school, got my doctorate, became a psychologist functioning in a state hospital. I was actually director of psychology. I was being told not to tell anybody about my condition.

But one day, and thanks in large part to the last lady you just interviewed, Pam Hodge... She changed the laws in Ohio and encouraged persons in recovery to sit on mental health boards and become open about their conditions. So I did.

Since then, I've had quite a career. I've given over 2,000 talks. I've had movie contracts. No movie, but I've had a couple contracts!

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Antipsychotics Are Not Appropriate for a 2 Year Old

I remain astounded that psychiatrists and pediatricians think it's occasionally appropriate to prescribe adult atypical antipsychotic medications -- like Risperdal -- to children younger than age 5.

Last week, The New York Times covered the story of Kyle Warren, a boy who began risperidone (Risperdal) treatment at age 2. Yes, you read the right -- age 2.

He was rescued from this unbelievable prescription by Dr. Mary Margaret Gleason through a treatment effort called the Early Childhood Supporters and Services program in Louisiana. Dr. Gleason helped wean young Kyle off of the medications from ages 3 to 5, and helped understand that Kyle's tantrums came from his stressful and upsetting family situation -- not a brain disorder, bipolar disorder, or autism.

Imagine that -- a child responding to a family situation that is stressful and involves his two primary role models -- his parents.

After carefully reviewing the limited amount of research in this area, Psych Central recommends that parents should never accept an atypical antipsychotic medication prescription for a child age 5 or younger. If your doctor makes such a prescription, you should (a) look for another doctor and (b) consider filing a complaint with your state's medical board against the doctor.

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Withdrawing from Psychiatric Medications

You've been diagnosed with a mental disorder and have been in treatment now for years. You've done both psychotherapy and psychiatric medications, and now it's time to try to live life drug-free. You've successfully ended your psychotherapy treatment, but now you're looking for advice and information about how to end your psychiatric medications.

My first suggestion to you would be to talk to your doctor or psychiatrist. Nobody should go off of any medication without first getting their doctor's consent and, hopefully, cooperation (or, if not their consent, at least their grudging acceptance that it's your body and you can do with it what you want). Ideally, you're seeing a psychiatrist for your psychiatric medications and not just your family doctor. If you are just seeing your family doctor, you may need a little more help than someone seeing a psychiatrist, because psychiatrists have much greater familiarity with helping people get off of the medications they previously prescribed to them. (In my experience, I've found many family doctors simply have little clue about the idiosyncrasies of discontinuing psychiatric medications, because of their unique tapering properties.)

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Sex on Antidepressants

A while back, a reader asked me if I'd cover the topic of intimacy complications with regard to antidepressants.

Ah. Yeah. Every time I write about this controversial topic, I usually get hammered by the left, right, and center. This is obviously delicate ground, so let me tread lightly.

In a recent Johns Hopkins Health Alert called "The Challenge of Antidepressant Medication and Intimacy," I read this:
While sexual dysfunction is a frequent symptom of depression itself (and successful treatment of depression may eliminate it), antidepressant medication can sometimes worsen or even cause sexual problems. In fact, sexual dysfunction is a potential side effect of all classes of antidepressants.
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13 Myths of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is one of those mental disorders that many people seem to confuse with something else, such as multiple personality disorder. It's a very simple yet very terrifying condition, characterized by usually having a combination of hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations can involve any of your five senses, but in schizophrenia, usually involves seeing or hearing things that aren't really there (like hearing other people's voices inside your head telling you to do something...
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10 Ways to Manage Your Weight on Psych Meds

Awhile back, a Beyond Blue reader asked me to address the problem of weight gain and medication. "How do you deal with this yourself?" she asked me.

I'll be perfectly honest -- it's a battle. As someone with a history of an eating disorder, I've had to work very hard on getting to a place where I eat when I'm hungry. For that reason, I won't go near drugs like Zyprexa, because...
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9 Myths of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder has been the focus of attention in recent years, as a new slew of psychiatric medications have been developed to help treat it. Such medications drive pharmaceutical marketing and increased educational efforts surrounding bipolar disorder (for better or worse).

But many myths surround bipolar disorder -- what it is, what it means, and how it's treated. Here's to busting a few of the most common ones.

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Zyprexa Redux

If you haven't been hiding under a rock in the past few years, you've probably heard about Zyprexa (olanzapine). It's an atypical antipsychotic psychiatric medication used first to treat schizophrenia, then extended to include the treatment of different types of bipolar disorder. There's nothing...
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