Technology Helps Explain Medication Failure

In almost every area of medicine, doctors can order tests to provide objective physical data to guide their medication selection. However, the practice of psychiatry is most often based on observation, self-report and psychological testing. It appears that we are better at measuring impairment than we are at identifying the source and prescribing an effective medication. Is there a way we can do better?

The director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Tomas Insel, suggests there are many medicines, but they are not working adequately. This is because the symptoms of mental illness are too illusive and are shared by many diagnoses. Insel (2012) says, “It’s much harder to fix something if you don’t know what is going wrong.” Medications are being prescribed to treat a set of symptoms suggestive of a specific disorder without any objective evidence of the cause. Additionally, the practice of polypharmacy has become way too common in children and adolescents.

Pharmaceutical industry advertising promotes adding a medication when the first medication fails to produce the desired results (i.e., adding Abilify to your antidepressant). The message is that when one medication fails, keep adding more in an effort to address the additional symptoms. Each additional medication increases the risk of side effects. It is not uncommon for children to come to us with several medications prescribed. Last month, for example, we saw a 9-year-old female with prescriptions for Olanzapine three times a day, Lithium Carbonate daily and Amphetamine Salts three times a day. Also, a 10-year-old male came to us on Focolin three times a day, Seroquel twice a day, Lexipro daily and Zyprexa daily. If there was a way to determine why a medication failed, would it not be prudent to investigate why? If current technology could help?

Read moreTechnology Helps Explain Medication Failure

House Again Passes Thompson’s Bipartisan Amendment to Improve TBI, PTSD Treatment For Troops & Veterans

Washington, DC, Jul 18 – Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1), co-chair of the bipartisan Military Veterans Caucus, today again secured the passage of his bipartisan amendment with Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-32) to expedite new and innovative treatments to our nations’ veterans and active duty soldiers suffering from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is the second time the House has passed the amendment. In May, the TBI treatment expansion initiative was adopted as a House amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310), however the Senate has yet to take up this bill. Today it was passed as an amendment to H.R. 5856, the Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The amendment passed by voice vote. The House will vote on H.R. 5856 later this week.

“Our troops and veterans have earned the very best treatment and care that we can provide,” said Thompson. “But sometimes the best treatments aren’t available at military and veteran medical facilities. My amendment will make sure that our heroes who return from combat with TBI or PTSD have access to the highest quality care our nation has to offer. I will keep introducing this legislation until it is law. It’s what our heroes have earned.”

“I am pleased that our colleagues have joined us in recognizing the importance of providing treatment options not currently available within military and veteran medical facilities to those who return from combat with TBI or PTSD,” said Sessions. “As we approach the Memorial Day holiday, I believe we can best honor our nation’s active duty soldiers and veterans by ensuring that their health is a top priority and that they have access to the most effective treatments available.”

Read moreHouse Again Passes Thompson’s Bipartisan Amendment to Improve TBI, PTSD Treatment For Troops & Veterans

Houston’s Tarnow Center offers solution for service members with PTSD

A friend of qEEGsupport.com ( Dr. Ron Swatzyna) was recently featured on a local news station in the Houston area.

HOUSTON – A Houston doctor is working on something that could help the many service members who return from the battle field suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder.

By its own admission, The Veterans Administration has had little success treating people who are suffering from both traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder.

“They end up not having any cognitive strategies to manage the therapy, and they’ll either get out of therapy, or end their lives and that’s what’s happening,” said Dr. Ron Swatzyna, a psychotherapist, neuro-therapist, and biofeedback therapist for Houston’s Tarnow Center. “I’ve been working on this issue for about four years now.”

He said resetting the brain, lining it back up through stimulation, is the key.  And by mapping the brain, he believes he can tell when the patient is ready for therapy.

“Not at the beginning. If you push them too quick that’s a problem. If they are pushed into therapy too quick,” he said.

Swatzyna said the defense department and the VA both realize more research is needed, and if he can get funding, and cooperation from a group in the Texas Medical Center, he would like to open up a research center in Houston.

Vietnam veteran Billy Miller, who one of Swatzyna’s patients, is now helping him pull it off.

“Everyone I had been to before, all 25 doctors had never had military experience, they didn’t know what I was going through,” Miller said.

Swatzyna was a captain in the Air Force, and now many believe he is the best in the country at understanding veterans.

Army soldier Joel Brasier, who suffers from TBI and PTSD, believes Swatzyna is on the right track and is hoping research will lead to better, faster treatment.

“It’s an ongoing process, but eventually they are going to make a breakthrough and get us the help we need,” Brasier said.

Full story from khou.com

New Findings on PTSD and Brain Activity

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 1, 2010

Researchers have discovered a correlation between increased activity among brain circuits and flashbacks among individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

University of Minnesota investigators learned that an increased circuit activity in the right side of the brain is associated with the debilitating, involuntary flashbacks that often characterized PTSD.

The ability to objectively diagnose PTSD through concrete evidence of neural activity, its impact and its manifestation is the first step toward effectively helping those afflicted with this severe anxiety disorder.

PTSD often stems from war, but also can be a result of exposure to any psychologically traumatic event. The disorder can manifest itself in flashbacks, recurring nightmares, anger or hypervigilance.

Using a technique called Magnetoencephalography (MEG), a noninvasive measurement of magnetic fields in the brain, researchers found differences between signals in the temporal and parieto-occipital right hemispheric areas of the brain among those with PTSD.

The temporal cortex, in accordance with earlier findings on the effects of its electrical stimulation during brain surgery, is thought to be responsible for the reliving of past experiences.

Read moreNew Findings on PTSD and Brain Activity

VA Eases PTSD Claims Process

The Veterans Affairs Department has published a final regulation intended to ease the claims process and improve access to health care for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Under the new rule, VA no longer will require substantiation of a stressor tied to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity if a VA psychiatrist or psychologist can confirm that the experience recalled by a veteran supports a PTSD diagnosis and the veteran’s symptoms are related to the stressor. The Veterans Affairs Department has posted a fact sheet including questions and answers about the new rule governing PTSD claims on the VA website or call VA’s toll free benefits number at 800-827-1000