Saturday, November 7, 2009

Treat the Whole

By now, most people have probably read about the proposed change to the psychiatric DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) whereby the diagnostic labels for Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-nos) will be eliminated, and enfolded into the broad diagnostic label of autism spectrum disorder. Here is an article about it in the New York Times: A Powerful Identity, a Vanishing Diagnosis.

But the pros and cons of that proposal is not what my writing is about today. I am more interested in the MEDICAL-oriented updates to be included in the new DSM-V, which is due to be published in 2012, replacing the current DSM-IV.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Brain Health: Nutrition and Epigenetics

Nutritional and other environmental factors, such as too much or too little food, toxins, smoking, trauma, viral infections, and other stress-inducing factors—both before and after birth—can affect the functioning of genes due to changes in the proteins regulating those genes. These changes can even be inherited much as genes are inherited, incredibly complicating the study of genetic involvement in illness.

This month, we are fortunate to have a paper describing the subject written by a nutritional science student studying dietetics.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Doctor Visit: Medication History

Sometimes it is just as well to start over with new doctors without going into past history, especially when the past history is based on misdiagnoses. But when we are still in the initial process of searching for answers to complex medical mysteries, knowledge of what has been tried, what worked, and what did not, may add some clarity to a still-murky picture.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gluten Sensitivity and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

In Brain Health: The Gluten (Dis)Connection, we wrote about the connection between gluten sensitivity and its ill-effects on the brain function of some individuals.

Research into this area seems to be taking off recently, with several new intriguing articles, the latest of which shows an astonishing percentage of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia having Celiac and gluten sensitivity. (Note that there may be some overlap with sensitivity to casein as well. See information about testing at bottom of article. For more on the topic, see It's Not Mental - the BOOK)

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Sometimes an illness occurs because of a straightforward gene mutation. But sometimes illnesses occur because of changes in the functioning, or expression, of the genome.

The study of the control of the functioning of genetic material is called epigenetics.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Is It ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?

It may start out with a teacher suggesting your child be tested for ADHD or that he/she may benefit from stimulant medication. You become anxious and concerned.... or recognize that the teacher is affirming something you already suspected.

Before you rush your child to a psychiatrist with a list of symptoms, take a deep breath, and think this through.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Abnormal Sleep as a Cause of Mental Symptoms

Sleep disorders can be a CAUSE of the brain symptoms being diagnosed as "mental illness."

That seems so logical, except that for years doctors insisted that our children's sleep problems are being caused by the "mental illness." This is true even when we tell them... THE SLEEP ISSUES CAME FIRST(See book)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stress, Growth, Life, & Hormones

As with most families caring for a child with a severe prolonged illness, our family was under tremendous stress when our little girl was very ill. It was not a good kind of stress. It was too severe. Too prolonged.

But in the long run, I do believe it helped us grow as individuals. It made our marriage stronger. It made our family stronger. It helped me to see the wisdom and strength of my extended family, who all extended moral support in spite of physical distance between us. But that was in the long run. I also know that the chronic, prolonged nature of that horrific stress was physically damaging.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Asking the Right Doctor the Right Question

There's a lot of medicinal wisdom doctors don't share with their patients. I assumed that was because the doctors are not keeping abreast of current research.

Often, that is true, but there's another reason that some doctors, even if they KNOW about something, won't tell us.

If he/she works in a group, such as at a clinic or hospital, the doctor may be prohibited from divulging any information that is not considered "mainstream." They also must be careful not to outright contradict other doctors.

In this latter case, we might be able to get better answers from doctors just by changing the way we ask the questions. We need to give them a way to give us uncensored advice without violating their job protocols.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Psychiatrist vs Endocrinologist: Who is Responsible?

Problems within the endocrine system (i.e. with hormone levels) can cause psychiatric problems. Psychiatric medications can cause problems within the endocrine system.[1] So wherein lies the responsibility to test and treat the endocrine problems of children (or adults) with "mental disorders?"

This is not a trivial question, nor an attempt to start an esoteric philosophical debate. The question is being raised out of urgent need, with profound consequences for the well-being of our children.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sleep: Timing of Melatonin, Light, Dark, & Use of Other Aids

When to take Melatonin, how much, and whether to take the quick-release or the extended-release form can be a confusing issue. And what else can we do to help with sleep problems?

Since sleep is so critical to the health of body and brain, and as seen in our story -- sleep issues can cause mental symptoms -- we have accumulated some "tricks-of-the-trade" covering proper melatonin usage as well as other effective aids.

Here is information gathered from parents and doctors to help clear up some of that confusion about what to take and/or do, and when.  But be aware, that there may be even deeper underlying medical issues which, if addressed, may help alleviate some sleep problems (such as healing gut issues, nutritional issues, food and chemical sensitivities, allergies, hormonal issues, etc.- See books: It's Not Mental, Is This Your Child,  and Our Toxic World - Don't dismiss books and other information sources aimed at helping children heal just because you are an adult! Those are usually on the leading edge--ahead of their time-- because we will do anything to heal our kids! We adults can learn and implement techniques for ourselves as well!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Brain Health: The Gluten (Dis)Connection

Can symptoms called "mental illness" in some people be cured just by going gluten-free?

Research (below) suggests the answer to that is, "Yes."
(NOTE: In our personal experience we had to also eliminate casein [dairy] in order to be recoverED.)

A group of Scandanavian researchers even suggests that partial or complete symptom alleviation in a subset of patients labeled “schizophrenic” can be achieved with the simple solution of withdrawal from gluten. [1]

(Here is an audio about some severe intermittent psychosis or hallucinations.)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Managing Symptoms Vs Treating Illness

Ever hear doctors claim labels for severe mental illnesses--like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.-- are "wastebasket diagnoses"? Have you ever stopped to think why some say this and what that means about our treatment of patients with these diagnoses?

Listening to some Continuing Medical Education (CME) about mental illness can be quite thought-provoking… revealing the huge gap between research and practice, and between medical and “mental.”

In this psychiatric medical discussion about schizoaffective versus schizophrenia[1] they boldly used the term "wastebasket diagnosis" for the DSM diagnosis of schizoaffective when talking about its diagnosis and treatment. But let's take this conclusion about this one diagnosis (and treatment) a step further.