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Same corporations that manufacture vaccines are killing half a million people annually with deadly...

Psychiatric medications are not only useless, but they're responsible for killing at least 500,000 people aged 65 years and older every single year. This...

Are All Psychiatric Drugs Too Unsafe to Take?

Dr. Peter R. Breggin Psychiatric drugs are more dangerous than you have ever imagined. If you haven't been prescribed one yet, you are among the...

Babies on psychiatric drugs: crime with no punishment

Babies on psychiatric drugs: crime with no punishment by Jon Rappoport July 8, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com Here is typical, circumspect, utter bullshit reporting from the mainstream: “For the most vulnerable foster children, those less than 1 year old, foster children were nearly twice as likely to be prescribed a psychiatric drug compared to non-foster children.” (ABC […]

Killers on Psychiatric Drugs in Gun-Free Zones

The Fort Hood shooting is yet another reminder of the two things all or most of these mass murders have in common: they occur in clearly-marked and reinforced gun-free zones. Second, most or maybe all of the mass murdering gunmen were on cocktails of psychiatric drugs as captive patients of the psychiatric-pharmaceutical-medical complex. Still, everyday [...]

Dr. Breggin rides again: the dangers of psychiatric drugs

Dr. Breggin rides again: the dangers of psychiatric drugs by Jon Rappoport February 24, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com In court, the tide may be turning against psychiatric-drug damage. A recent jury decision, in which Dr. Peter Breggin testified as an expert witness, highlighted the extreme danger of the drugs. The civil case was filed on behalf of […]

Dramatic Increase of Mass Shootings in America: The Role of Prescription Psychiatric Drugs?

“While the data about the ever-increasing random shootings is important, it doesn't mean spit unless someone in a position of power is willing...

MIND GAMES: Cyberspace and Psychiatric Drugs

At least 10 percent of all Americans over six-years-old are on antidepressants. That’s more than 35 million people, double the number from less than two decades ago. Meanwhile, anti-psychotics have eclipsed cholesterol treatments as the country’s fastest selling and most profitable drugs, even though half the prescriptions treat disorders for which they haven’t been proven effective. At least 5 million children and adolescents use them, in part because more kids are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

This raises some troubling alternatives: Are a growing number of people experiencing psychological troubles? Have we just become better at recognizing them? Or is some other dynamic at work?

One possibility is that the criteria for what constitutes a mental illness or disability may have expanded to the point that a vast number appear to have clinical problems. But there’s an even more insidious development: the drugs being used to treat many of the new diagnoses could cause long-term effects that persist after the original trouble has been resolved. That’s the case made by Robert Whitaker in his book, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America.

Speaking of long-term impacts on the brain, we’re also heading toward a world where humans are directly linked with computers that profoundly influence their perceptions and ideas. Despite many potential benefits, there is danger here as well. Rather than simply augmenting our memories by providing neutral information, the brain-computer connection may lead people into separate realities based on their assumptions and politics.

Brain-altering drugs and digital “indoctrination” – a potent combination. Together, they pose a potential threat not only to the stability of many individuals but of society itself. Seduced by the promise that our brains can be managed and enhanced without serious side-effects, we may be creating a future where psychological dysfunction becomes a post-modern plague and powerful forces use cyberspace to reshape “reality” in their private interest.

Do prescription drugs create new mental problems? And if so, how could it be happening? For Whitaker the answer lies in the effects of drugs on neurotransmitters, a process he calls negative feedback. When a drug blocks neurotransmitters or increases the level of serotonin, for instance, neurons initially attempt to counteract the effects. When the drug is used over a long period, however, it can produce “substantial and long-lasting alterations in neural function,” claims Steven Hyman, former director of the National Institutes of Mental Health. The brain begins to function differently. Its ability to compensate starts to fail and side effects created by the drug emerge.

What comes next? More drugs and, along with them, new side effects, an evolving chemical mixture often accompanied by a revised diagnosis. According to Marcia Angell, former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, it can go this way: use of an antidepressant leads to mania, which leads to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, which leads to the prescription of mood stabilizers. Through such a process people can end up taking several drugs daily for many years.

What may happen after that is deeply troubling. Researcher Nancy Andreasen claims the brain begins to shrink, an effect she links directly to dosage and duration. “The prefrontal cortex doesn’t get the input it needs and is being shut down by drugs,” she explained in The New York Times. “That reduces the psychotic symptoms.” But the pre-frontal cortex gradually atrophies.

Anyone who has been on the psychiatric drug roller coaster understands some of the ride’s risks and how hard it can be to get off. But the new implication is that we may be experiencing a medically-induced outbreak of brain dysfunction caused by the exploding use of drugs. One big unanswered question at the moment: What does Big Pharma really know, and when did they learn it?

Drug companies are not the only ones experimenting with our brains. Bold research is also being pursued to create brain-computer interfaces that can help people overcome problems like memory loss. According to writer Michael Chorost, author of World Wide Mind and interface enthusiast who benefited from ear implants after going deaf, we may soon be directly connected to the Internet through neural implants. It sounds convenient and liberating. Ask yourself a question and, presto, there’s the answer. Google co-founder Larry Page can imagine a not-too-distant future in which you simply think about something and “your cell phone whispers the answer in your ear.”

Beyond the fact that this could become irritating, there’s an unspoken assumption that the information received is basically unbiased, like consulting an excellent encyclopedia or a great library catalog. This is where the trouble starts. As Sue Halperin noted in a New York Review of Books essay, “Mind Control and the Internet,” Search engines like Google use an algorithm to show us what’s important. But even without the manipulation of marketing companies and consultants who influence some listings, each search is increasingly shaped to fit the profile of the person asking. If you think that we both get the same results from the same inquiry, guess again.

What really happens is that you get results assembled just for you. Information is prioritized in a way that reinforces one’s previous choices, influenced by suggested assumptions and preferences. As Eli Pariser argues in The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You, environmental activists and energy executives get very different listings when they inquire about climate science. It looks and feels “objective” but they’re being fed data that fits with their existing view – and probably not seeing much that conflicts.

A study discussed in Sociological Quarterly looked at this development by following attitudes about climate science over a decade. Here’s a strange but significant finding: Although a consensus emerged among most scientists over the years, the number of Republicans who accepted their conclusion dropped. Why? Because the Republicans were getting different information than the Democrats and others who embraced the basic premise. In other words, their viewpoint was being reflected back at them.

Does this sound dangerous? Pariser thinks so, and suggests that the type of reinforcement made common by search engines is leading to inadvertent self-indoctrination. For democracy to function effectively, people need exposure to various viewpoints, “but instead we’re more and more enclosed in our own bubbles,” he writes. Rather than agreeing on a set of shared facts we’re being led deeper into our different worlds.

Whether this is a problem depends somewhat on your expectations. For some people it is merely a bump in the road, a faltering step in the inevitable evolution of human consciousness. Techno-shamen and other cosmic optimists see the potential of drug-induced enlightenment and an Internet-assisted “hive mind,” and believe that the long-term outcome will be less violence, more trust, and a better world. But others have doubts, questioning whether we’ll really end up with technological liberation and a psychic leap forward. It could go quite differently, they worry. We could instead see millions of brain-addled casualties and even deeper social polarization.

How will current trends influence democracy and basic human relations? Increased trust and participation don’t immediately come to mind. Rather, the result could be more suspicion, denial and paranoia, as if we don’t have enough. In fact, even the recent upsurge in anger and resentment may be drug and Internet-assisted, creating fertile ground for opportunists and demagogues.

In False Alarm: The truth about the epidemic of fear, New York internist Marc Siegel noted that when the amygdala — the Brain’s central station for processing emotions – detects a threatening situation, it pours out stress hormones. If the stress persists too long, however, it can malfunction, overwhelm the hippocampus (center of the "thinking" brain), and be difficult to turn off. In the long term, this "fear biology" can wear people down, inducing paralysis or making them susceptible to diseases and delusions that they might otherwise resist. Addressing this problem with drugs that change the brain’s neural functioning isn’t apt to help. Either will the Internet’s tendency to provide information that reinforces whatever one already thinks.

More than half a century ago, Aldous Huxley – who knew a bit about drugs – issued a dire prediction. He didn’t see the Internet coming, but other than that his vision remains relevant. “There will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude,” he wrote in Brave New World, “and producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda, brainwashing or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods."

Pretty grim, but there’s no going back. Despite any dangers posed by computer algorithms and anti-psychotic drugs, they are with us for the foreseeable future. Still, what we’ve learned about them in recent years could help us to reduce the negatives. Not every illness listed in the DMS – that constantly growing, Big Pharma-influenced psychiatric bible – requires drug treatment. And the results of your online searches will very likely tell you what you want to know, but that does not mean you’re getting a “balanced” or comprehensive picture.

(Originally published on 6/15/11, based on a radio broadcast)

Messing with Our Minds: Psychiatric Drugs, Cyberspace and “Digital Indoctrination”

Brain-altering drugs and digital “indoctrination” pose a potential threat not only to the stability of many individuals but of society itself. At least 10...

Like nearly all other mass shooters, ex-Navy shooter Aaron Alexis was also being treated...

Mike AdamsNatural NewsSeptember 18, 2013 We weren't planning to cover this story until the Associated Press...

Overprescription nation: Seniors taking multiple psychotropic drugs doubles over a decade

The number of retirement-age Americans being prescribed multiple psychiatric drugs without a recorded mental health diagnosis...

Never Take These Killer Drugs

By Dr. Mercola It is now estimated that 1 in 8 Americans are on serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants1 and a shocking 1 in 4...

Psych Drugs and Mass Murder

Here we go again. A drifter and lone wolf is somehow off his meds. His anger boils over while he has access to guns....

Robin Williams Was on Drugs at the Time of His Death – Antidepressant Drugs

Kelly Patricia O’Meara If news headlines were to be believed about the autopsy findings of beloved actor/comedian Robin Williams, who tragically committed suicide nearly two...

Psst, kid, want drugs? I’m a psychiatrist.

Psst, kid, want drugs? I’m a psychiatrist. by Jon Rappoport June 10, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com Look at it this way. The kid doesn’t have to pay for drugs out of his pocket. He gets them in a shrink’s office. Insurance covers it. His parents may be able to work a Social Security disability claim and receive […]

Alert: Imperial Psychiatric Empire is Invading the Mind

Jon Rappoport A federal bill, HR 3717 (Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013), is being refined in the hope of gaining big...

Alert: imperial psychiatric empire is invading the mind

Alert: imperial psychiatric empire is invading the mind by Jon Rappoport May 14, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com A federal bill, HR 3717 (Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013), is being refined in the hope of gaining big support from both sides of the political aisle. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) is the key point man […]

Alert: imperial psychiatric empire is invading the mind

Alert: imperial psychiatric empire is invading the mind by Jon Rappoport May 14, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com A federal bill, HR 3717 (Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013), is being refined in the hope of gaining big support from both sides of the political aisle. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) is the key point man […]

How the Corporate Media and Journalists Perpetuate Lies and Misinformation About Drugs

Maia Szalavitz RINF Alternative News Journalists are no less likely to take drugs than anyone else–indeed, in my admittedly anecdotal experience, they’re more likely to use. You’d think...

The James Holmes Batman-murder psychiatric circus

The James Holmes Batman-murder psychiatric circus by Jon Rappoport April 28, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com This article is not about all the contradictions and inconsistencies in the official story of “the Batman murders” at the Aurora Theater. This article is about the use of psychiatry in the judicial system. Judge Carlos Samour has ordered James Holmes to […]

It’s the Drugs, Stupid! Prescription Psychotropic Drugs Causes brain Injury

Charles Gant, MD, PhD and Greg Lewis, PhD  RINF Alternative News Psychotropic drugs have been used for the purpose of suppressing fear and enabling murderous rage...

My 19 Days in a Psychiatric Hospital

Growing up influenced by cultural representations of psychiatric hospitals as soul-crushing, prison-like institutions, my impression of such treatment centers was quite negative. Then I...

The rise of the Psychiatric State under Obamacare

The rise of the Psychiatric State under Obamacare   by Jon Rappoport November 11, 2011 www.nomorefakenews.com   Come down the road of history and watch the vast parade. There were the cave people, with their fear of the thunder and lightning and the forces behind them; there were the priesthoods rattling gourds and pointing scepters; […]

Did Psychiatric Meds Cause Navy Yard Tragedy?

Congress is investigating whether prescription medications played a role in last week's massacre at the Washington Navy Yard when former reservist-turned-military contractor Aaron Alexis...

Media Buries Psychiatric Drug Connection to Navy Shooter

Networks don't want to risk losing $2.4 billion in ad revenue from pharmaceutical giants Paul Joseph Watson Despite every indication that Navy Yard gunman...

Big Pharma invents yet another disease to sell deadly drugs: ‘Shift Work Disorder’ now...

Mike Adams Natural News August 26, 2013 Ever heard of “shift work disorder?” It’s a new disease being played up by the pharmaceutical industry...

Amazon.com running deceptive pharmaceutical ads on its website, promoting dangerous drugs as if they...

Mike Adams Natural News August 19, 2013 While completing a recent purchase on Amazon.com, I was hit with a Prilosec ad served up on...

YOU ARE CRAZY: New Psychiatric Guidelines Target Hoarding, Child Temper Tantrums, and a Host...

It’s not a stretch to suggest that Americans are over medicated. In 2011 doctors across the nation wrote an astounding four billion medical prescriptions,...

YOU ARE CRAZY: New Psychiatric Guidelines Target Hoarding, Child Temper Tantrums, and a Host...

It’s not a stretch to suggest that Americans are over medicated. In 2011 doctors across the nation wrote an astounding four billion medical prescriptions, amounting...

Big Pharma’s New Mass-Drugging Agenda Pushes Statin Drugs for Healthy People

By Mike Adams | Drug companies used to sell products for the treatment of disease. But it didn't take long for Big Pharma to...

Psychiatric Group Faces Scrutiny Over Drug Industry Ties

By BENEDICT CAREY and GARDINER HARRIS | It seemed an ideal marriage, a scientific partnership that would attack mental illness from all sides. Psychiatrists would...

Seven Reasons Why the US’s New Mental Health Law Is Dangerous

(Photo: Agencia de Noticias ANDES; Edited: LW / TO) This week, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, touting the bipartisan mental health measure...

Withdraw Your Consent: 25 Ways to Declare Your Independence

This isn't about guns blazing, militias mobilizing, and guerrilla warfare. It's about small personal acts of independence.

ADHD in the new education

ADHD in the new education by Jon Rappoport May 12, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com “I learned twenty-four new things today at school,” the child said. “One right after the other. I felt so happy. My teacher told me I was learning accelerated. I wrote on my iPad. I saw pictures. I did group harmony. I added. I […]

ADHD in the new education

ADHD in the new education by Jon Rappoport May 12, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com “I learned twenty-four new things today at school,” the child said. “One right after the other. I felt so happy. My teacher told me I was learning accelerated. I wrote on my iPad. I saw pictures. I did group harmony. I added. I […]

Genetic invasion: distorting the human future

Genetic invasion: distorting the human future Are you non-material, or just a programmed brain? By Jon Rappoport May 11, 2014 http://www.nomorefakenews.com First, read these two quotes from highly regarded academic scientists, to catch the flavor of the genetic revolution: From Lee Silver, Princeton, molecular biologist and author of Remaking Eden: “The GenRich—who account for ten […]

Genetic invasion: distorting the human future

Genetic invasion: distorting the human future Are you non-material, or just a programmed brain? by Jon Rappoport May 12, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com First, read these two quotes from highly regarded academic scientists, to catch the flavor of the genetic revolution: From Lee Silver, Princeton, molecular biologist and author of Remaking Eden: “The GenRich—who account for ten […]

Medicated to Death: SSRIs and Mass Killings

by James Corbett BoilingFrogsPost.com April 16, 2014 In May 1998, 15 year old Kip Kinkel murdered his parents and two classmates, as well as injuring 25 others, after engaging in a shooting spree that ended up in his school’s cafeteria. In the in...

A Clockwork Orange, Eden, guilt, sin, mind control

A Clockwork Orange, Eden, guilt, sin, mind control by Jon Rappoport March 26, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com Here’s a short quote from my unfinished manuscript, The Magician Awakes: “How do you view a single life? Is it a platform from which a human launches his future, or must he double back and find out what is wrong […]

Guns, schools, mind control, revolution

Guns, schools, mind control, revolution by Jon Rappoport March 4, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com “Padre, these are subtleties. We’re not concerned with motives, with the higher ethics. We are concerned only with cutting down crime–and. . .with relieving the ghastly congestion in our prisons. He will be your true Christian: ready to turn the other cheek, ready […]

Patient Front Groups Loot Medicare Dollars for Big Pharma

Martha Rosenberg  RINF Alternative News The Obama administration is finally addressing the expensive, dangerous and usually unnecessary psychiatric drugs that are footed by taxpayers in federal...

Mental illness is the new normal

Mental illness is the new normal by Jon Rappoport February 14, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com The strategy is as old as the hills. Show people an extreme example of something, and thereby convince them to accept a compromise. In this case, parade before the public—along with assured pronouncements from “mental health experts”—images of James Holmes, Aaron Alexis, […]

Is the Hippocratic Oath Being Killed off by the Big Business of Medicine?

Gary G. Kohls  RINF Alternative News When people ask me about what motivates me to occasionally blow the whistle on certain ethical issues, I sometimes say...

Exposed: Sandy Hook shooter’s biggest threat still lives

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The Morning News: Proving Darwin Right, One Story at a Time

Do you ever have one of those days when you’re reading the news, and you have an epiphany? This morning I realized, looking over the day’s information, we don’t need to be depopulated. No dramatic measures need to be taken. People are dumb enough to do it all on theirRead the Rest...

Random Acts of Revolution

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery.  This means that if you are a slave today, it’s either illegal, or you have voluntarily accepted your servitude. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within theRead the Rest...

The Sandy Hook Massacre: The Official Cover-up Continues. Who and/or What Messed up Adam...

Dr. Gary G. Kohls It will soon be the first anniversary of the school shooting massacre at Sandy Hook. With plenty of family and friend...

Boston Children’s Hospital kidnaps teen girl for 10 months, holds her as prisoner while...

Mike Adams Natural News November 21, 2013 A 15-year-old Connecticut girl remains held by Boston Children's Hospital, a victim of the hospital's “kidnap and ransom” operation, traditionally...

Food riots, China cyber attacks, the rise of conscious AI…

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LAX shooting, the storyline, the agenda, the questions

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RINFORMATION

USA Topics 9/11 Agenda 21 Assassinations Banks Bush, George Jr Boston Bombings Bohemian Grove CIA Cointelpro Corruption DARPA Democrats Disinformation Congress Drones Eugenics FBI Federal Reserve Guantanamo HAARP ...

What Do Sandy Hook Investigators Have to Hide?

More than 10 months after Adam Lanza massacred 26 students and faculty and committed suicide at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, questions still...

Obamacare: the ticking time bomb in “better health”

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State of Connecticut Refuses to Release Adam Lanza’s Medical Records

Assistant Attorney General: Identifying antidepressants Lanza was taking could “cause a lot of people to...

State of Connecticut Refuses to Release Adam Lanza’s Medical Records

Assistant Attorney General: Identifying antidepressants Lanza was taking could “cause a lot of people to...

The dentistry holocaust: How America has been mercury poisoned by an industry in denial

Mike Adams Natural News September 24, 2013 Last Friday, the city council of Berkeley, California, voted to keep mercury hidden in dental fillings, keeping...

Anti-depressants caused ‘Navy Yard’

An author and media commentator says the shooter behind the Washington Navy Yard massacre was on the same anti-depressant drug that Adam Lanza had...

Why Drugging All Schizophrenics For Life Is Not the Answer

It was an amazing victory for mental health treatment reform activists and one investigative reporter: on Aug. 28, 2013, National Institute of Mental Health...

Navy Yard shooter was on Trazodone

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MKULTRA? Patsy? Aaron Alexis’ portrait: painted for gun control

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Confirmed: Navy Yard Shooter Was On Anti-Depressant Trazodone

Drug linked to previous mass shooting despite Washington Post declaring it “safe” Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comSeptember 19,...

Was Navy Yard Killer on Anti-Depressant Meds?

SSRI drugs linked with multitude of mass shooting cases Paul Joseph Watson Image: Aaron Alexis Several indications suggest that Navy Yard killer...

“They Can’t Marginalize All of Us”

Bruce Levine is an American clinical psychologist, often at odds with the mainstream of his profession. He has practiced in Cincinnati, Ohio for nearly...

More than 20 percent of Americans regularly taking prescribed mind-altering medication

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Wal-Mart, Walgreens found selling chemical used to manufacture deadly nerve gas weapons based on...

Mike Adams Natural News September 4, 2013 Wal-Mart, Walgreens and other large U.S. retailers have been found selling a chemical that can be used...

Mass Drugging of US Troops an Underreported Scandal

Soldiers being forced to pop pills by exempt officer class Alex Jones & Paul Joseph Watson The mass drugging of US...

If George Zimmerman were Monsanto, would any black leaders seek justice for Trayvon?

If George Zimmerman were Monsanto, would any black leaders seek justice for Trayvon? The answer is no. The African-American community is up in arms over a jury of six women finding George Zimmerman not guilty of the second degree murder of Trayvon Martin. That same community is SILENT on the routine killing of young black babies by GMOs, vaccines and even the cancer-causing chemicals found in processed meat.

Random Acts of Revolution

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery.  This means that if you are a slave today, it’s either illegal, or you have voluntarily...

Random Acts of Revolution

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery.  This means that if you are a slave today, it’s either illegal, or you have voluntarily...

CDC Says 20 Percent of Children Have Mental Disorder; Why the Increase?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of American children may have a mental disorder, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety,...

CDC Says 20 Percent of Children Have Mental Disorder; Why the Increase?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of American children may have a mental disorder, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety,...

CDC Says 20 Percent of Children Have Mental Disorder; Why the Increase?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of American children may have a mental disorder, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety,...

Biotech’s Next Big Disaster: Seeds that Emit Multiple Pesticides

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Man raped his mum because he was ‘stressed’ at being accused of raping his...

A man who raped his own mother claims he assaulted her in the middle of...

Stigma Over Solutions

Four Democratic senators held a press conference on June 15 to highlight what the passage of the American Health Care Act (aka Trumpcare) would...

Oxford University to spend millions researching cannabis

The University of Oxford is to head a multimillion-pound research program investigating the effects of...

Stop Brain Loss

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Make cannabis safer to smoke, researchers say

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Forget Dangerous Antidepressants

By Dr. Mercola One in 20 Americans over the age of 12 struggles with depression1 and 11 percent of the U.S. population over the age...

Lament for Humanity: A 50 Year Reflection

Robert J. Burrowes Deeply affected by the death of my two uncles in World War II, on 1 July 1966, the 24th anniversary of the...

12,000 English children hospitalized in suicide attempts, self-harm

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Prescription Painkiller Crisis: Why Do Americans Consume 80 Percent Of All Prescription Painkillers?

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Almost all psych drug use is unnecessary, claims doctor researching medical holocaust of over...

More than half a million people age 65 years or older die every year in the West from psychiatric drug use, and the worst...

Rick Perry becomes first presidential candidate to reveal Big Pharma connection to mass shootings

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30 Million Americans On Antidepressants And 21 Other Facts About America’s Endless Pharmaceutical Nightmare

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Singular realities, multiple realities

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Another giant nail in the coffin of psychiatry

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New revelations of neglect and coverup at US veterans health care facilities

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2 new smoking guns: Psychiatry is a complete fraud

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Elliot Roger, Santa Barbara killer: parallels and numbers

Elliot Rodger, Santa Barbara killer: parallels and numbers by Jon Rappoport May 25, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com These are preliminary notes. For now, they’re based on media accounts of the killing spree on May 23, in Isla Vista, California—and of course, these media accounts of mass murders should never be accepted, on their face, as ironclad facts. […]

Roche Hid Drug Trial Results: Pandemic Flu Drug Works No Better Than Acetaminophen

“This review is the result of many years of struggles to access and use trial data, which was previously unpublished and even hidden from view. It highlights with certainty that future decisions to purchase and use drugs, particularly when on a mass scale, must be based on a complete picture of the evidence, both published and unpublished."

Text of UN Human Rights Council Report on US Human Rights Abuses

UN Human Rights Council Report on US Human Rights Abuses
ADVANCED UNEDITED VERSION
Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations on the fourth report of the United States of America

1. The Committee considered the fourth periodic report of the United States of America (CCPR/C/USA/4 and Corr.1) at its 3044th, 3045th and 3046th meetings (CCPR/C/SR/3044, CCPR/C/SR/3045 and CCPR/C/SR/3046), held on 13 and 14 March 2014. At its 3061st meeting (CCPR/C/SR/3061), held on 26 March 2014, it adopted the following concluding observations.
A. Introduction
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the fourth periodic report of the United States of America and the information presented therein. It expresses appreciation for the opportunity to renew its constructive dialogue with the State party’s high level delegation which included representatives of state and local governments on the measures that the State party has taken during the reporting period to implement the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee is grateful to the State party for its written replies (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4/Add.1) to the list of issues (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4), which were supplemented by the oral responses provided by the delegation and for the supplementary information provided to it in writing.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee notes with appreciation the many efforts undertaken, and the progress made in protecting civil and political rights by the State party. The Committee welcomes, in particular, the following legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party:
(a) The full implementation of article 6(5) of the Covenant in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), despite the State party’s reservation to the contrary;
(b) The recognition by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008), of the extraterritorial application of constitutional habeas corpus rights to aliens detained at Guantánamo Bay;
(c) The Presidential Executive Orders 13491 (“Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”), 13492 (“Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities”) and 13493 (“Review of Detention Policy Options”), issued on 22 January 2009;
(d) The support for the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples announced by President Obama on 16 December 2010;
(e) The Presidential Executive Order 13567 establishing periodic review for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility who have not been charged, convicted, or designated for transfer, issued on 7 March 2011.
C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations
Applicability of the Covenant at national level 
4. The Committee regrets that the State party continues to maintain its position that the Covenant does not apply with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction but outside its territory, despite the contrary interpretation of article 2(1) supported by the Committee’s established jurisprudence, the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice and state practice. The Committee further notes that the State party has only limited avenues to ensure that state and local governments respect and implement the Covenant, and that its provisions have been declared to be non-self-executing at the time of ratification. Taken together, these elements considerably limit the legal reach and the practical relevance of the Covenant (art. 2).  
The State party should:
(a) Interpret the Covenant in good faith, in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to its terms in their context, including subsequent practice, and in the light of its object and purpose and review its legal position so as to acknowledge the extraterritorial application of the Covenant under certain circumstances, as outlined inter alia in the Committee’s general comment No. 31 (2004) on the nature of the general legal obligation imposed on States parties to the Covenant;
(b) Engage with stakeholders at all levels to identify ways to give greater effect to the Covenant at federal, state and local levels, taking into account that the obligations under the Covenant are binding on the State party as a whole, and that all branches of government, and other public or governmental authorities, at every level are in a position to engage the responsibility of the State party under the Covenant (General Comment. No. 31, para. 4);
(c) Taking into account its declaration that provisions of the Covenant are non-self-executing, ensure that effective remedies are available for violations of the Covenant, including those that do not, at the same time, constitute violations of U.S. domestic law, and undertake a review of such areas with a view to proposing to the Congress implementing legislation to fill any legislative gaps. The State party should also consider acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Covenant providing for an individual communication procedure.
(d) Strengthen and expand existing mechanisms mandated to monitor the implementation of human rights at federal, state, local and tribal levels, provide them with adequate human and financial resources or consider establishing an independent national human rights institution, in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles) (General Assembly resolution 48/134).
(e) Reconsider its position regarding its reservations and declarations to the Covenant with a view to withdrawing them. 
Accountability for past human rights violations
5. The Committee is concerned at the limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of members of the Armed Forces and other agents of the U.S. Government, including private contractors, for unlawful killings in its international operations and the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in U.S. custody, including outside its territory, as part of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” program. While welcoming the Presidential Executive Order 13491 of 22 January 2009 terminating the programme of secret detention and interrogation operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meagre number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives. The Committee is concerned that many details of the CIA programme remain secret thereby creating barriers to accountability and redress for victims (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 14).
The State party should ensure that all cases of unlawful killing, torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful detention, or enforced disappearance are effectively, independently and impartially investigated, that perpetrators, including, in particular, persons in command positions, are prosecuted and sanctioned, and that victims are provided with effective remedies. The responsibility of those who provided legal pretexts for manifestly illegal behavior should also be established. The State party should also consider the full incorporation of the doctrine of ‘command responsibility’ in its criminal law and declassify and make public the report of the Senate Special Committee on Intelligence into the CIA secret detention programme.
Racial disparities in the criminal justice system
6. While appreciating the steps taken by the State party to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including the enactment in August 2010 of The Fair Sentencing Act and plans to work on reform of mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, the Committee continues to be concerned about racial disparities at different stages in the criminal justice system, sentencing disparities and the overrepresentation of individuals belonging to racial and ethnic minorities in prisons and jails (arts. 2, 9, 14, and 26). 
The State party should continue and step up its efforts to robustly address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including by amending regulations and policies leading to racially disparate impact at the federal, state and local levels. The State party should ensure the retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act and reform mandatory minimum sentencing statutes.
Racial profiling
7. While welcoming plans to reform the “stop and frisk” program in New York City, the Committee remains concerned about the practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities, and the surveillance of Muslims undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the absence of any suspicion of wrongdoing (arts. 2, 9, 12, 17, and 26).   
The State party should continue and step up its measures to effectively combat and eliminate racial profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement officials, inter alia by: (a) pursuing the review of the 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies and expanding protection against profiling on the basis of religion, religious appearance or national origin; (b) continuing to train state and local law enforcement personnel on cultural awareness and inadmissibility of racial profiling; and (c) abolishing all “stop and frisk” practices.
Death penalty
8. While welcoming the overall decline in the number of executions and the increasing number of states that have abolished the death penalty, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing use of the death penalty and, in particular, racial disparities in its imposition that affects disproportionately African Americans, exacerbated by the rule that discrimination has to be proven case-by-case. It is further concerned by the high number of persons wrongly sentenced to death, despite existing safeguards, and by the fact that 16 retentionist states do not provide for compensation for the wrongfully convicted and other states provide for insufficient compensation. Finally, the Committee notes with concern reports about the administration by some states of untested lethal drugs to execute prisoners and the withholding of information on such drugs (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 14, and 26).  
The State party should (a) take measures to effectively ensure that the death penalty is not imposed as a result of racial bias; (b) strengthen safeguards against wrongful sentencing to death and subsequent wrongful execution by ensuring inter alia effective legal representation for defendants in death penalty cases, including at the post-conviction stage; (c) ensure that retentionist states provide adequate compensation for the wrongfully convicted (d) ensure that lethal drugs for executions originate from legal, regulated sources, and are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that information on the origin and composition of such drugs is made available to individuals scheduled for execution; (e) consider establishing a moratorium on the death penalty at the federal level and engage with retentionist states with a view to achieving a nationwide moratorium. The Committee also encourages the State party, on the 25th anniversary of the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, to consider acceding to the Protocol. 
Targeted killings using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones)
9. The Committee is concerned about the State party’s practice of targeted killings in extraterritorial counter-terrorism operations using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) also known as ‘drones’, the lack of transparency regarding the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal justification for specific attacks, and the lack of accountability for the loss of life resulting from such attacks. The Committee notes the State party’s position that drone strikes are conducted in the course of its armed conflict with Al- Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces and in accordance with its inherent right of national self-defense and are governed by international humanitarian law, as well as by the Presidential Policy Guidance that sets out standards for the use of lethal force outside areas of active hostilities. Nevertheless, the Committee remains concerned about the State party’s very broad approach to the definition and the geographical scope of an armed conflict, including the end of hostilities, the unclear interpretation of what constitutes an “imminent threat” and who is a combatant or civilian taking a direct part in hostilities, the unclear position on the nexus that should exist between any particular use of lethal force and any specific theatre of hostilities, as well as the precautionary measures taken to avoid civilian casualties in practice (arts. 2, 6, and 14). 
The State party should revisit its position regarding legal justifications for the use of deadly force through drone attacks. It should: (a) ensure that any use of armed drones complies fully with its obligations under article 6 of the Covenant, including in particular with respect to the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality in the context of an armed conflict; (b) subject to operational security, disclose the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal basis for specific attacks, the process of target identification and the circumstances in which drones are used; (c) provide for independent supervision and oversight over the specific implementation of regulations governing the use of drone strikes; (d) in armed conflict situations, take all feasible measures to ensure the protection of civilians in specific drone attacks and to track and assess civilian casualties, as well as all necessary precautionary measures in order to avoid such casualties; (e) conduct independent, impartial, prompt and effective investigations of allegations of violations of the right to life and bring to justice those responsible; (f) provide victims or their families with an effective remedy where there has been a violation, including adequate compensation, and establish accountability mechanisms for victims of allegedly unlawful drone attacks who are not compensated by their home governments.
Gun violence 
10. While acknowledging the measures taken to reduce gun violence, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing high numbers of gun-related deaths and injuries and the disparate impact of gun violence on minorities, women and children. While commending the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ investigation of the discriminatory effect of “Stand Your Ground Laws”, the Committee is concerned about the proliferation of such laws that are used to circumvent the limits of legitimate self-defence in violation of the State party’s duty to protect life (arts. 2, 6, and 26). 
The State Party should take all necessary measures to abide by its obligation to effectively protect the right to life. In particular, it should: (a) continue its efforts to effectively curb gun violence, including through the continued pursuit of legislation requiring background checks for all private firearm transfers in order to prevent possession of arms by persons recognized as prohibited individuals under federal law and strict enforcement of the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban legislation of 1996 (the “Lautenberg Amendment”); and (b) review Stand Your Ground Laws to remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to the principles of necessity and proportionality when using deadly force in self-defence.
Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials
11. The Committee is concerned about the still high number of fatal shootings by certain police forces, including, for instance, in Chicago, and reports of excessive use of force by certain law enforcement officers including the deadly use of tasers, which have a disparate impact on African Americans, and use of lethal force by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the U.S.-Mexico border (arts. 2, 6, 7, and 26).  
The State Party should  (a) step up its efforts to prevent the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers by ensuring compliance with the 1990 UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officers; (b) ensure that the new CBP directive on use of deadly force is applied and enforced in practice; and (c) improve reporting of excessive use of force violations and ensure that reported cases of excessive use of force are effectively investigated, alleged perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions, that investigations are re-opened when new evidence becomes available, and that victims or their families are provided with adequate compensation. 
Legislation prohibiting torture
12. While noting that acts of torture may be prosecuted in a variety of ways at both the federal and state levels, the Committee is concerned about the lack of comprehensive legislation criminalizing all forms of torture, including mental torture, committed within the territory of the State party. The Committee is also concerned about the inability of torture victims to claim compensation from the State party and its officials due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity (arts. 2 and 7).
The State party should enact legislation to explicitly prohibit torture, including mental torture, wherever committed and ensure that the law provides for penalties commensurate with the gravity of such acts, whether committed by public officials or other persons acting on behalf of the State, or by private persons. The State party should ensure the availability of compensation to victims of torture. 
Non-refoulement
13. While noting the measures taken to ensure compliance with the principle of non-refoulement in cases of extradition, expulsion, return and transfer of individuals to other countries, the Committee is concerned about the State party’s reliance on diplomatic assurances that do not provide sufficient safeguards. It is also concerned at the State party’s position that the principle of non-refoulement is not covered by the Covenant despite the Committee’s established jurisprudence and subsequent state practice (arts. 6 and 7). 
The State party should strictly apply the absolute prohibition against refoulement under articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant, continue exercising the utmost care in evaluating diplomatic assurances, and refrain from relying on such assurances where it is not in a position to effectively monitor the treatment of such persons after their extradition, expulsion, transfer or return to other countries and take appropriate remedial action when assurances are not fulfilled. 
Trafficking and forced labour
14. While acknowledging the measures taken by the State party to address the issue of trafficking in persons and forced labour, the Committee remains concerned about cases of trafficking for purposes of labour and sexual exploitation, including of children, and criminalization of victims on prostitution-related charges. It is concerned about the insufficient identification and investigation of cases of trafficking for labour purposes and notes with concern that certain categories of workers, such as farm workers and domestic workers, are explicitly excluded from the protection of labour laws, thus rendering these categories of workers more vulnerable to trafficking. The Committee is also concerned that workers entering the U.S. under the H-2B work visa programme are also at a high risk of becoming victims of trafficking/forced labour (arts. 2, 8, 9, 14, 24, and 26).
The State party should continue its efforts to combat trafficking in persons, inter alia by strengthening its preventive measures, increasing victim identification and systematically and vigorously investigating allegations of trafficking in persons, prosecuting and punishing those responsible and providing effective remedies to victims, including protection, rehabilitation and compensation. It should take all appropriate measures to prevent the criminalization of victims of sex trafficking, including child victims, to the extent that they have been compelled to engage in unlawful activities. The State party should review its laws and regulations to ensure full protection against forced labour for all categories of workers and ensure effective oversight of labour conditions in any temporary visa program. It should also reinforce its training activities and provide training to law enforcement and border and immigration officials, as well as to other relevant agencies such as labour law enforcement agencies and child welfare agencies. 
Immigrants
15. The Committee is concerned that under certain circumstances mandatory detention of immigrants for prolonged periods of time without regard to the individual case may raise issues under article 9 of the Covenant. It is also concerned about the mandatory nature of the deportation of foreigners without regard to elements such as the seriousness of crimes and misdemeanors committed, the length of lawful stay in the U.S., health status, family ties and the fate of spouses and children staying behind, or the humanitarian situation in the country of destination. Finally, the Committee expresses concerns about the exclusion of millions of undocumented immigrants and their children from coverage under the Affordable Care Act and the limited coverage of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the U.S. for less than five years by Medicare and Children Health Insurance, all resulting in difficulties in access of immigrants to adequate health care (arts. 7, 9, 13, 17, 24 and 26).
The Committee recommends to the State party to review its policies of mandatory detention and deportation of certain categories of immigrants in order to allow for individualized decisions, to take measures ensuring that affected persons have access to legal representation, and to identify ways to facilitate access of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the U.S. for less than five years and their families to adequate health care, including reproductive health care services.
Domestic violence 
16. The Committee is concerned that domestic violence continues to be prevalent in the State party, and that ethnic minorities, immigrants and American Indian and Alaska Native women are at a particular risk. The Committee is also concerned that victims face obstacles to obtaining remedies, and that law enforcement authorities are not legally required to act with due diligence to protect victims of domestic violence, and often inadequately respond to such cases  (arts. 3, 7, 9, and 26)
The State party should, through the full and effective implementation of the Violence against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, strengthen measures to prevent and combat domestic violence, as well as to ensure that law enforcement personnel appropriately respond to acts of domestic violence. The State party should ensure that cases of domestic violence are effectively investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and sanctioned. The State party should ensure remedies for all victims of domestic violence, and take steps to improve the provision of emergency shelter, housing, child care, rehabilitative services and legal representation for women victims of domestic violence. The State party should also take measures to assist tribal authorities in their efforts to address domestic violence against Native American women.
Corporal punishment 
17. The Committee is concerned about the use of corporal punishment of children in schools, penal institutions, the home, and all forms of child care at federal, state and local levels. It is also concerned about the increasing criminalization of students to tackle disciplinary issues arising in schools (arts. 7, 10, and 24).
The State party should take practical steps, including through legislative measures where appropriate, to put an end to corporal punishment in all settings. It should encourage non-violent forms of discipline as alternatives to corporal punishment and should conduct public information campaigns to raise awareness about its harmful effects. The State party should also promote the use of alternatives to the application of criminal law to address disciplinary issues in schools.
Non-consensual psychiatric treatment
18. The Committee is concerned about the widespread use of non-consensual psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services (arts. 7 and 17).
The State party should ensure that non-consensual use of psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services is generally prohibited. Non-consensual psychiatric treatment may only be applied, if at all, in exceptional cases as a measure of last resort where absolutely necessary for the benefit of the person concerned provided that he or she is unable to give consent, for the shortest possible time, without any long-term impact, and under independent review. The State party should promote psychiatric care aimed at preserving the dignity of patients, both adults and minors.

Criminalization of homelessness
19. While appreciating the steps taken by federal and some state and local authorities to address homelessness, the Committee is concerned about reports of criminalization of people living on the street for everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, sitting in particular areas etc. The Committee notes that such criminalization raises concerns of discrimination and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (arts. 2, 7, 9, 17, and 26).
The State party should engage with state and local authorities to: (a) abolish criminalization of homelessness laws and policies at state and local levels; (b) ensure close cooperation between all relevant stakeholders including social, health, law enforcement and justice professionals at all levels to intensify efforts to find solutions for the homeless in accordance with human rights standards; and (c) offer incentives for decriminalization and implementation of such solutions, including by providing continued financial support to local authorities implementing alternatives to criminalization and withdrawing funding for local authorities criminalizing the homeless.  
Conditions of detention and use of solitary confinement
20. The Committee is concerned about the continued practice of holding persons deprived of their liberty, including juveniles and persons with mental disabilities under certain circumstances, in prolonged solitary confinement, and about detainees being held in solitary confinement also in pretrial detention. The Committee is furthermore concerned about poor detention conditions in death row facilities (arts. 7, 9, 10, 17, and 24).
The State party should monitor conditions of detention in prisons, including private detention facilities, with a view to ensuring that persons deprived of their liberty be treated in accordance with the requirements of articles 7 and 10 of the Covenant and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. It should impose strict limits on the use of solitary confinement, both pretrial and following conviction, in the federal system, as well as nationwide, and abolish the practice in respect of anyone under the age of 18 and prisoners with serious mental illness. It should also bring detention conditions of prisoners on death row in line with international standards.
Detainees at Guantánamo Bay 
21. While noting President Obama’s commitment to close the Guantánamo Bay facility and the appointment of Special Envoys at the Departments of State and Defense to continue to pursue the transfer of detainees designated for transfer, the Committee regrets that no timeline for closure of the facility has been provided. The Committee is also concerned that detainees held in Guantánamo Bay and in military facilities in Afghanistan are not dealt with within the ordinary criminal justice system after a protracted period of over a decade in some cases (arts. 7, 9, 10, and 14).
The State party should expedite the transfer of detainees designated for transfer, including to Yemen, as well as the process of periodic review for Guantánamo detainees, and ensure either their trial or immediate release, and the closure of the Guantánamo facility. It should end the system of administrative detention without charge or trial and ensure that any criminal cases against detainees held in Guantánamo and military facilities in Afghanistan are dealt with within the criminal justice system rather than military commissions and that those detainees are afforded the fair trial guarantees enshrined in article 14 of the Covenant. 
NSA surveillance
22. The Committee is concerned about the surveillance of communications in the interests of protecting national security, conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) both within and outside the United States through the bulk phone metadata program (Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act) and, in particular, the surveillance under Section 702 of Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) conducted through PRISM (collection of the contents of communications from U.S.-based companies) and UPSTREAM (tapping of fiber-optic cables in the U.S. that carry internet traffic) programs and their adverse impact on the right to privacy. The Committee is concerned that until recently, judicial interpretations of FISA and rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) have largely been kept secret, thus not allowing affected persons to know the law with sufficient precision. The Committee is concerned that the current system of oversight of the activities of the NSA fails to effectively protect the rights of those affected. While welcoming the recent Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-28) that will now extend some safeguards to non-US persons “to the maximum extent feasible consistent with the national security”, the Committee remains concerned that such persons enjoy only limited protection against excessive surveillance. Finally, the Committee is concerned that those affected have no access to effective remedies in case of abuse (arts. 2, 5(1), and 17).
The State party should:
(a) take all necessary measures to ensure that its surveillance activities, both within and outside the United States, conform to its obligations under the Covenant, including article 17; in particular, measures should be taken to ensure that any interference with the right to privacy complies with the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity regardless of the nationality or location of individuals whose communications are under direct surveillance;
(b) ensure that any interference with the right to privacy, family, home or correspondence be authorized by laws that (i) are publicly accessible; (ii) contain provisions that ensure that collection of, access to and use of communications data are tailored to specific legitimate aims; (iii) are sufficiently precise specifying in detail the precise circumstances in which any such interference may be permitted; the procedures for authorizing; the categories of persons who may be placed under surveillance; limits on the duration of surveillance; procedures for the use and storage of the data collected; and (iv) provide for effective safeguards against abuse;
(c) reform the current system of oversight over surveillance activities to ensure its effectiveness, including by providing for judicial involvement in authorization or monitoring of surveillance measures, and considering to establish strong and independent oversight mandates with a view to prevent abuses;
(d) refrain from imposing mandatory retention of data by third parties;
(e) ensure that affected persons have access to effective remedies in cases of abuse.
Juvenile justice and life without parole sentences
23. While noting with satisfaction the Supreme Court decisions prohibiting life without parole sentences for children convicted of non-homicide offenses (Graham v. Florida), and barring mandatory life without parole sentences for children convicted of homicide offenses (Miller v. Alabama) and the State party’s commitment to their retroactive application, the Committee is concerned that a court still may, within its discretion, sentence a defendant to life without parole for a homicide committed as a juvenile and that a mandatory or non-homicide related sentence of life without parole may still be applied to adults. It is also concerned that many states exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions and thus juveniles continue to be tried in adult courts and to be incarcerated in adult institutions (arts. 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, and 24). 
The State party should prohibit and abolish all juvenile life without parole sentences irrespective of the crime committed, as well as all mandatory and non-homicide related sentences of life without parole. It should also ensure that all juveniles are separated from adults during pretrial detention and after sentencing and that juveniles are not transferred to adult courts. States that automatically exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions should be encouraged to change their laws.
Voting rights
24. While noting with satisfaction Attorney General Holder’s statement of 11 February 2014 calling for a reform of prisoner disenfranchisement State laws, the Committee reiterate its concern about the persistence of state-level felon disenfranchisement laws, its disproportionate impact on minorities, and the lengthy and cumbersome state voting restoration procedures. The Committee is further concerned that voter identification and other recently introduced eligibility requirements may impose excessive burdens on voters resulting in de facto disenfranchisement of large numbers of voters, including members of minority groups. Finally, the Committee reiterates its concern that residents of the District of Columbia are denied the right to vote for and election of voting representatives to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives (arts. 2, 10, 25, and 26).
The State party should ensure that all states reinstate voting rights to felons who have fully served their sentences, provide inmates with information about their voting restoration options and remove or streamline lengthy and cumbersome state voting restoration procedures, as well as review automatic denial of the vote to any imprisoned felon, regardless of the nature of the offence. It should also take all necessary measures to ensure that voter identification requirements and the new eligibility requirements do not impose excessive burdens on voters resulting in de facto disenfranchisement. The State party should also provide for the full voting rights of residents of Washington, D.C. 
Rights of indigenous people
25. The Committee is concerned about the insufficient measures being taken to protect the sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction as a result of urbanization, extractive industries, industrial development, tourism and toxic contamination. It is also concerned about restricted access of indigenous people to sacred areas essential for preservation of their religious, cultural and spiritual practices and the insufficiency of consultation conducted with indigenous peoples on matters of interest to their communities (art. 27).
The State party should adopt measures to effectively protect sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction and ensure that consultations are held with the communities that might be adversely affected by State party’s development projects and exploitation of natural resources with a view to obtaining their free, prior and informed consent for the potential project activities.
26. The State party should widely disseminate the Covenant, the text of the fourth periodic report, the written responses that it has provided in response to the list of issues drawn up by the Committee and the present concluding observations so as to increase awareness among the judicial, legislative and administrative authorities, civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country, as well as the general public. The Committee also requests the State party, when preparing its fifth periodic report, to continue its practice of broadly consulting with civil society and non-governmental organizations.
27. In accordance with rule 71, paragraph 5, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the State party should provide, within one year, relevant information on its implementation of the Committee’s recommendations made in paragraphs 5, 10, 21 and 22 above.

28. The Committee requests the State party, in its next periodic report, due to be submitted on 28 March 2019, to provide specific, up-to-date information on all its recommendations and on the Covenant as a whole

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Sexual Victimization of the Criminally Insane

Jan Brewer is the governor of Arizona and one of her three sons, Ronald, was charged in 1989 with sexual assault and kidnapping of a Phoenix woman.  He was diagnosed suffering schizophrenia and, in 1990, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to the Arizona State Hospital in Phoenix where he has been housed for the last two decades.  Brewer is one of the lucky mentally ill or criminally insane people in the U.S. not forced to live out their sentence in a state jail or federal prison.

A 2006 report for the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), “Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates,” estimated that 1.25 million people suffering from mental health problems were inmates in U.S. prisons and jails.  This is a four-fold increase from the BJS’s 1998 estimate of 283,000 incarcerated inmates with a mental illness.

Two recent BJS studies spotlight the horrendous conditions faced by the criminally insane in the American prison gulag.  They reveal that U.S. prisons have become the dumping ground for an increasing number of mentally ill people and, more troubling, these people are subject to widespread and repeated sexual victimization.  Prisons are coming to increasingly resemble hell on earth, a postmodern version Dante’s 8th level of Hell, Malebolge, an amphitheatre-shaped pit in which panderers, pimps, seducers and others are whipped, ducked in boiling pitch and their feet licked by flames.

* * *

In March 2013, CBS’s primetime Sunday news program, “60 Minutes,” featured an exposé on prison conditions in Chicago.  It profiled Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and argued, “with a shortage of mental facilities, jails have become the new asylums.”  Sadly, the conditions found in Chicago are relatively humane compared to that found in prisons around the country.  This is the sad lesson suggested by two recent BJS reports: “Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011–12: National Inmate Survey (NIS), 2011–12,” prepared by Allen Beck and others; and “Report on Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails (RSV),” edited by G. J. Mazza.

The NIS findings are pretty alarming:  “In 2011-12, an estimated 4.0% of state and federal prison inmates and 3.2% of jail inmates reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization by another inmate or facility staff in the past 12 months or since admission to the facility, if less than 12 months.”  It adds, “an estimated 3.6% of those identified with serious psychological distress reported inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, compared to 0.7% of inmates with no indication of mental illness.”

In real numbers, incidents of sexual victimization are significant.  The total U.S. incarcerated population is estimated at 2.3 million.  Using a 3.5 percent victimization rate, about 80,000 men and women, boys and girls as well as those identified as LGBT or suffering a mental health disorder are subject to some form of sexual violence.

More enlightened prison systems offer inmates some form of mental health support.  The NIS found “more than a third of prison inmates (35.8%) and jail inmates (39.2%) said they had received some counseling or therapy from a trained professional for these problems.”

Not surprising, those who saw a mental health professional were more likely to report being sexually victimized.  Inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization is 3 to 4 times higher among inmates who had received mental health counseling and 2 to 3 times higher among inmates who take prescription drugs.  The need for professional counseling is probably greater for those inmates subject to solitary confinement.

In 2005, the Supreme Court found in Wilkinson v. Austin that “no study of the effects of solitary or supermax-like confinement that lasted longer than 60 days failed to find evidence of negative psychological effects.”  The mental-health consequences from such confinement take many forms.  Inmates report an increase in problems sleeping, irrational anger, rage, lack of impulse control, confusing thought processes, hallucinations and depression, severe and chronic.  Suicide and incidents of self-harm or self-mutilation (e.g., swallowing razors and repeatedly smashing his/her head against the wall) increase.

“Report on Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails (RSV)” is an even more revealing indictment of U.S. prison system.  It provides detailed information about three so-called “High-Incidence Prisons.”  Among the characteristics of those who are most victimized by inmate-on-inmate sexual violence those with the following characteristics: (i) being white or multi-racial, (ii) having a college education, (iii) having a sexual orientation other than heterosexual, and (iv) having experienced sexual victimization prior to coming to the facility.  Among the characteristics of those who are most victimized due to staff sexual misconduct included: (i) having a college and (ii) experienced sexual victimization before coming to the facility.

Three prisons deemed high-incident facilities were singled out.

Fluvanna is a maximum-security prison for women in Troy, VA.  It suffered a major scandal in 2007 when the former chief of security was charged with having sex with female inmates.  He was convicted the following year.  Current administration concedes it suffers from short staffing during critical early-morning and late-evening hours, when most sexual victimization takes place.

Allred is a maximum-security prison for men in Wichita Falls, TX.   During the 2008-2009 period, its capacity was 3,682.   In 2009, 4,693 inmates spent time at Allred; the average length of stay was 1,682 days, the longest stay was 5,306 days.  Did someone say overcrowding?

Elmira, located in Upstate New York, is a maximum-security prison for men. During the 2008-2009 period, its capacity was 3,682 and, in 2009, the total number of inmates who spent any time there was 9,396.  That year, two inmates committed suicide and 11 people attempted suicide.

The authors of the RSV study take up an advocacy voice, calling for system wide changes.  Knowingly, they insist:  “We know that sexual assaults can be reduced by changing attitudes toward potentially vulnerable populations, including female, LGBTQ, and physically frail inmates; paying close attention to institutional design and surveillance; providing offender education and staff training; improving operational policies and post orders; and monitoring adherence to established policies.”

* * *

American prisons have become the new mental institutions, asylums for lost souls.  In Madness and Civilization, Michel Foucault notes that in 1656 the Hopital General was founded in Paris.  It was not a medical establishment, but a juridical institution seeking to instill moral and religious order in those so imprisoned.  While ostensibly aimed at the confinement of the insane, it also housed the unemployed or idle, prisoners and the poor.  The confined included those identified as “the debauched, spendthrift fathers, prodigal sons, blasphemers” and “libertines.”

We’ve come nearly full circle in the last three-and-a-half centuries.  As Rockefeller inspired lock-‘em-up drug-related policies wane in the face of the mounting fiscal crises faced by local and state governments, nonviolent drug offenders are being replaced by the mentally ill.  The sad situation is that there are dwindling facilities for the civil confinement of those designated criminally insane or mentally ill.

Writing in the New York Review of Book, David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow point out, “the asylums where people with serious disorders could once receive care were mostly closed down by the end of the Reagan era.”  They point out that a half-century ago, in 1955, there were 558,239 beds for severely mentally ill patients in public psychiatric hospitals.  Going further, they argue that, based on population growth, the number of beds should have been 885,000 by 1994.  Sadly, the number of beds in public institutions were only 71,619 and “perhaps another 70,000” in private psychiatric hospitals.

The authors conclude, pessimistically, “Indeed, a visit to almost any prison or jail makes it distressingly clear that these institutions now house many of the people who need mental health treatment.”  These prisons have become a modern-day hell-on-earth.

David Rosen regularly contributes to the AlterNet, Brooklyn Rail, Filmmaker and Huffington Post.  Check out www.DavidRosenWrites.com; he can be reached at [email protected].

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Bogus Child Abuse Charges for Pregnant, Drug-Using Women (Hard Times USA)

A woman who uses drugs can be punished just for the assumption that using drugs has harmed her fetus.

February 11, 2013  |  

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Editor's note: America has a long history of treating the poor like criminals, from legislation banning the transportation of poor people across state lines to anti-vagrancy laws that could land you in jail if you didn't have a job or a home. We've come to rely on the criminal justice system to deal with the poor, even as more and more Americans fall into poverty. The following article is part of a series that looks at the diverse ways our countrycriminalizes poverty, including laws targeting the homeless, the surveillance of welfare recipients, the re-emergence of debtor prisons, and extreme policing tactics like stop-and-frisk.

After suffering a stillbirth in South Carolina, 21-year-old Regina McKnight was arrested and charged with murdering her fetus because she used cocaine while pregnant. McKnight served eight years in prison for a loss that, as it turned out, she did not even cause. In 2008, with four years of her sentence left to serve, the South Carolina Supreme Court said the state used “outdated” research to make its case and overturned McNight’s conviction.

While prosecutors had claimed McKnight’s cocaine use caused her stillbirth, the Court said McKnight’s attorneys failed to secure testimony from experts who would have explained how “recent studies show[ed] that cocaine is no more harmful to a fetus than nicotine use, poor nutrition, lack of prenatal care, or other conditions commonly associated with the urban poor.”

McKnight’s case is not unusual. A recent study examining the outcome of pro-life policies since Roe v. Wade through 2005 identified more than 400 pregnant women who were arrested, incarcerated or forced into health “treatment” they did not want or need. As the data make clear, drug war stigma and racism were central to such prosecutions: 84 percent of these cases alleged that the woman, “in addition to continuing her pregnancy, had used an illegal drug,” particularly cocaine. Fifty-two percent of the women targeted are black.

Legal Rights for Fetuses 

The cases do not necessarily include the death of a fetus, as in McKnight’s case. A woman who uses drugs can be punished for the assumption that she has harmed her fetus, even if her drug use is the only evidence against her. In states where feticide or “personhood” measures define an egg, embryo or fetus as a child, "child abuse" can occur in the womb.

In South Dakota, a 12-weeks pregnant, homeless, 28-year-old Native American woman, Martina Greywind, was charged with “reckless endangerment” for using inhalants during her pregnancy. After two weeks in jail, she was able to obtain a release for a medical appointment where she received an abortion. Her case was dismissed, with the state noting that her pregnancy’s termination made her charges “no longer ripe for litigation,” while the prosecutor told media it was “no longer worth the time or expense to prosecute her.”

Lynn Paltrow of the National Advocates for Pregnant Woman, lead author of the pro-life policies study, says that cases targeting women who become pregnant, go to term, and use an illicit drug or alcohol are part of the larger effort to create separate legal rights for fertilized eggs and embryos.

One such precedent was established last month in the Alabama Supreme Court, which ruled that “the crime of chemical endangerment” -- exposing a child to a controlled substance or the environment in which it was produced -- applies to a fetus in a womb. The concurring opinion defined a fetus as a child, noting that the state has the responsibility to “protect life.” In these cases, the pro-life rhetoric works with equally flawed drug war stigma to criminalize women for crimes against an “unborn child.”

While the Alabama ruling rests firmly on the belief that a fetus is a child, it also stems from the notion that exposing infants to methamphetamine is so damaging it should be labeled a crime. Studies have repeatedly found that the developmental effects of prenatal exposure to methamphetamine are not clear. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s special information sheet about meth exposure in-utero, "the effects of maternal methamphetamine use cannot be separated from other factors," and there "is no syndrome or disorder that can specifically be identified for babies who were exposed in utero to methamphetamine."

Child Services 

On February 7, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a positive drug test does not prove parental neglect and that the state’s child protection services do not have jurisdiction over pregnant women. “The court’s decision protects the rights of all pregnant women and in so doing actually protects maternal, fetal, and child health,” Lynn Paltrow said. 

While the Alabama ruling interpreted a criminal statute, the New Jersey law interpreted a civil statute. The former provides for a criminal case and prosecution, while the latter turns the matter over to child protective services, which is not always as benign as it sounds.

“Facing jail or the loss of custody of child are both devastating consequences, both likely to deter a mother from getting care,” Paltrow said. “But one does send you to jail, potentially for life, and the other puts you in the civil child welfare system.”

Lawrence S. Lustberg, an attorney who worked on the case, told AlterNet, “Nobody is endorsing the use of drugs while one is pregnant, but the problem with regulating it and allowing for state interference or state scrutiny of women who are pregnant leads to two problems.” The first is that threatening a woman with the removal of her children due to behavior while pregnant  “is going to disincentivize women from doing the right thing, from getting care," Lustberg said. “Women who are drug-addicted, alcoholics, or have other problems while pregnant  should be encouraged to seek help, and if you threaten to take their children away they will be discouraged from seeking help, and that’s damaging to women and children.”

Another issue, Lustberg said, is that punishing pregnant women for crimes against a fetus encourages much broader oversight of children and mothers' lives. “The research shows that drug use...while potentially harmful, is no more harmful than a number of other things that are legal. Not just alcohol, but working too hard, not getting enough exercise, getting too much exercise, not eating the right things, sleep — all kinds of things that correlate with problems upon childbirth," he said. “Once you start allowing the state to intrude into that whole decision-making process, there is no end to it, and you would be subjecting pregnant women to a level of oversight by the government that you would not be subjecting any other people in our entire society to, and that is very troubling indeed.”

History of Racism

“The prosecutors typically charge the least popular most politically vulnerable women in town -- usually drug-using, African-American women," said Lynn Paltrow. She adds that prosecutors “try to get a court to decide that the word 'child' in the child-abuse statute applies to eggs, embryos, and fetuses” by suggesting that the law would only be used “against drug-using women,” and then setting the precedent for “unequal system of law for all pregnant women.”

The majority of these kinds of cases involve black women, and cocaine is the mostly commonly cited drug used to justify an arrest for fetal harm. The crack era of the ‘90s portrayed black women as enemies in the war on drugs. Media coverage of the crack cocaine “epidemic” churned out images of the “crack whore” whose reckless pleasure-seeking unknowingly or even intentionally harmed her unborn child. The media sensationalized the “crack baby,” providing an emotionally charged icon of victimization, while pregnant, black drug users were scapegoated for a policy failure to prevent crack cocaine use.

Researchers following children who were exposed to cocaine before they were born have found that the long-term effects are relatively minor. The infants exposed to crack cocaine in the ‘90s are now growing up, and most of them are leading normal, healthy lives.  

One study found that cocaine exposure slows fetal growth, but the difference went away as cocaine-exposed children grew up.

Research measuring brain function has found that cocaine-exposed children may have a harder time with tasks requiring attention management, as well as deviant behavior. Still, as Harolyn M. Belcher, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician who is director of research at the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Family Center in Baltimore, told the New York Times in 2009, these conclusions are “subtle and hard to generalize.”

“Just because it is statistically significant doesn’t mean that it is a huge public health impact,” Belcher told the Times. In 1997 for example, a study found that clinicians could not distinguish “crack-addicted babies” from babies born to comparable mothers who did not use cocaine.

Most women using crack cocaine while pregnant were also using other substances, and most of the children in these studies are poor, and are subject to a variety of other risk factors that affect cognitive development and behavior, like inadequate healthcare and schools, unstable family situations, and exposure to lead. In 2001, a comprehensive study concluded: “[T]here is no convincing evidence that prenatal cocaine exposure is associated with any developmental toxicity difference in severity, scope, or kind from the [consequences] of many other risk factors.”

“Society’s expectations of the children,” Deborah A. Frank, a Boston pediatrician, told the Times, “and reaction to the mothers are completely guided not by the toxicity, but by the social meaning” of the drug.

Barriers to Treatment

Even seeking treatment for substance addiction does not safeguard a pregnant woman from persecution. Wisconsinite Rachael Lowe, 20, learned this the hard way, when her attempt to seek treatment for her Oxycontin addiction landed her in a psychiatric ward more than an hour away from her husband and 2-year-old son. While she was held against her will in the psychiatric ward, she did not receive prenatal care, but was prescribed several medications, including Xanax. Lowe’s fetus received legal representation, but Lowe did not receive legal counsel until 12 days after she was taken into custody.

At a later hearing, a doctor testified that Lowe’s addiction posed no significant risk to the health of the fetus, and the court said Lowe would be released from what the study called her “hospital-based incarceration.” But the state was still allowed access to her womb, as Lowe was under surveillance and supervision for the remainder of the pregnancy, required to provide urine samples and cooperate with law enforcement and health professionals. As a result of the intervention, Lowe lost her jobs, and her husband had to take a leave of absence from his job.

For pregnant addicts, withdrawing from drugs like narcotic painkillers and heroin can be a greater danger to both the woman and the fetus. Nonetheless, prosecutors and judges who demand full abstinence have criminalized pregnant women who are taking methadone to curb their drug cravings. The legal system’s failure to recognize the complexity of a pregnant woman’s health decisions can have the effect of scaring women out of treatment -- causing danger to both them and their fetus.

Prenatal exposure to opiates like heroin and oxycodone is not associated with birth defects or impeded growth and development, but it is associated with withdrawal symptoms in newborns that trained professionals can manage and eliminate. 

In pregnant women, withdrawal symptoms can cause uterine contractions, miscarriage or early labor that may be more damaging to the child.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises:

If you’re pregnant and using drugs such as heroin or abusing opioid prescription painkillers, it’s important that you get help for yourself and your unborn baby. Methadone maintenance treatment can help you stop using those drugs. It is safe for the baby, keeps you free of withdrawal, and gives you a chance to take care of yourself.

Treat Depression … Naturally. Little-Known Secrets to Boosting Mood

mind

Little-Known Secrets to Boosting Mood …

If you’re depressed, you might consider asking your doctor to prescribe anti-depressants.

But as best-selling author Christiane Northrup, MD, notes:

In 2008, we learned that the benefits of antidepressants had been greatly overstated. Former FDA psychiatrist Erick H. Turner, M.D. uncovered some startling information about Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), including Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. In reviewing all the medical literature, he learned that 94 percent of the reports showing the therapeutic benefits of SSRIs were published compared to only 14 percent of the reports showing either no benefits or inconclusive results (of taking SSRIs were published). When he weighed all the literature, Dr. Turner determined that SSRIs were no more effective than a placebo for treating most depressive patients. Those with severe depression were helped, sometimes greatly, but those with mild to moderate depression, the majority of cases, received little relief. British researchers using the Freedom of Information Act uncovered identical findings.

In January 2010, another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirms these findings. The newest study also evaluated another class of antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants. Again, researchers determined that the typical patient, one with mild to moderate depression, gets the same amount of relief from a placebo as from an antidepressant.  The first author of the study, Jay C. Fournier, MA, told Medscape, “I think the most surprising part of the findings was how severe depression has to be in order to see this clinically meaningful difference emerge between medication and placebo, and that the majority of depressed patients presenting for treatment do not fall into that very severe category.”

The New York Times reported that the co-author of the study, Robert J. DeRubeis, shared this important insight: “The message for patients with mild to moderate depression is ‘Look, medications are always an option, but there’s little evidence that they add to other efforts to shake depression–whether it’s exercise, seeing the doctor, reading about the disorder or going for psychotherapy.’”

(In addition, modern SSRI anti-depressants have been shown to increase violent and suicidal behavior in a certain percent of the population.)

So what can those with depressive tendencies do?

Secret of Human Evolution

Getting enough Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet is also crucial in preventing depression. As Science Daily notes:

Researchers from Inserm and INRA and their collaborators in Spain collaboration, have studied mice fed on a diet low in omega-3 fatty acid. They discovered that reduced levels of omega-3 had deleterious consequences on synaptic functions and emotional behaviours.

Details of this work are available in the online version of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

***

The researchers studied mice fed a life-long diet imbalanced in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They found that omega-3 deficiency disturbed neuronal communication specifically ….This neuronal dysfunction was accompanied by depressive behaviours among the malnourished mice.

***

Consequently, the researchers discovered that among mice subjected to an omega-3 deficient dietary regime, synaptic plasticity … is disturbed in at least two structures involved with reward, motivation and emotional regulation: the prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens.

***

“Our results can now corroborate clinical and epidemiological studies which have revealed associations between an omega-3/omega-6 imbalance and mood disorders,” explain Olivier Manzoni and Sophie Layé. “To determine if the omega-3 deficiency is responsible for these neuropsychiatric disorders additional studies are, of course, required.”

In conclusion, the authors estimate that their results provide the first biological components of an explanation for the observed correlation between omega-3 poor diets, which are very widespread in the industrialized world, and mood disorders such as depression.

Dr. Northrup writes:

One of the best ways to support health brain chemistry is by taking fish oil. Fish oil has been shown time an again to relieve mild to moderate depression. The omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health and, according to Capt. Joe Hibbeln, M.D., these important fats support the serotonin system, may help reduce stress and lower your risk of all kinds of mental illness. Dr. Hibbeln, Chief of Outpatient Services for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is one of the world’s leading researchers on omega-3 fats. His findings have been compelling and encouraging.

***

Also encouraging is the largest ever clinical trial presenting in 2009 showing that fish oil may benefit half of all people with moderate to severe depression.

How could something as obscure as Omega 3s be so critical in preventing depression?

We’ve previously explained that humans evolved to eat a lot of Omega 3s:

Wild game animals have much higher levels of essential Omega 3 fatty acids than domesticated animals. Indeed, leading nutritionists say that humans evolved to consume a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids in the wild game and fish which they ate (more), and that a low Omega 3 diet is a very new trend within the last 100 years or so.

In other words, while omega 3s have just now been discovered by modern science, we evolved to get a lot of omega 3s … and if we just eat a modern, fast food diet without getting enough omega 3s, it can cause all sorts of health problems.

So something just discovered by science can be a central fuel which our bodies evolved to use.

Here’s further detail focusing on beef:

For all of human history – until the last couple of decades – people ate beef from cows (or buffalo or bison) which grazed on grass. The cows were usually strong and healthy. Their meat was lean, with very little saturated fat, as the critters ate well and got outdoor exercise. Their meat was high in good Omega 3 fats. See this and this, and humans evolved to consume a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids in the wild game and fish which they ate (more).

Today, on the other hand, beef is laden with saturated fat and almost entirely lacking healthy fats like Omega 3s, because the cows are force-fed food which makes them sick. Specifically, instead of their natural menu – grass – they are force-fed corn, which makes them sick. Because their diet makes them ill, they are given massive amounts of antibiotics.  Even with the antibiotics, the diet and living conditions would kill them pretty quickly if they aren’t slaughtered.

Science Daily explains:

In industrialized nations, diets have been impoverished in essential fatty acids since the beginning of the 20th century. The dietary ratio between omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 increased continuously over the course of the 20th century. These fatty acids are “essential” lipids because the body cannot synthesize them from new. They must therefore be provided through food and their dietary balance is essential to maintain optimal brain functions.

So insufficient Omega 3s is a major source of depression in modern industrialized countries.

The flip side of getting enough healthy Omega 3s is to stay away from the kind of fats which cause depression: trans fats.

(Contrary to what you’ve heard, getting enough of the right kind of healthy cholesterol also decreases depression.)

Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants …

Antioxidants also help to prevent depression.  Specifically, oxidative stress has been correlated with depression (and see here).

On the other hand, antioxidants reduce depression. See this, this and thisHere are the tricks for finding the least expensive, most powerful antioxidants.

Moreover, a multivitamin might be smart.  Specifically, Hugh D. Riordan, M.D., argues:

It is possible to become depressed because of the lack of a sufficient amount of a single trace element.

And as we’ve previously noted, modern foods can be nutritionally depleted:

We evolved eating foods which were high in vitamins and minerals ….

But as the Journal Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology notes:

With soil depletion, overfarming and transportation of foods over hundreds of miles with loss of nutrients en route, together with the increased use of convenience and fast foods, women can be over-fed, but under-nourished in our modern society.

The Nutrition Journal points out:

In 1927 a study at King’s College, University of London, of the chemical composition of foods was initiated … to assist with diabetic dietary guidance. The study evolved and was then broadened to determine all the important organic and mineral constituents of foods, it was financed by the Medical Research Council and eventually published in 1940. Over the next 51 years subsequent editions reflected changing national dietary habits and food laws as well as advances in analytical procedures. The most recent (5th Edition) published in 1991 has comprehensively analysed 14 different categories of foods and beverages. In order to provide some insight into any variation in the quality of the foods available to us as a nation between 1940 and 1991 it was possible to compare and contrast the mineral content of 27 varieties of vegetable, 17 varieties of fruit, 10 cuts of meat and some milk and cheese products. The results demonstrate that there has been a significant loss of minerals and trace elements in these foods over that period of time.

Scripps Howard News Service noted in 2006:

The nutritional content of America’s vegetables and fruits has declined during the past 50 years — in some cases dramatically.

Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas, said that of 13 major nutrients in fruits and vegetables tracked by the Agriculture Department from 1950 to 1999, six showed noticeable declines — protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C. The declines ranged from 6 percent for protein, 15 percent for iron, 20 percent for vitamin C, and 38 percent for riboflavin.

“It’s an amazing thing,” said Davis, adding that the decline in nutrient content has not been widely noticed.

Many other studies have reported ongoing soil depletion around the world.

***

And many people eat highly processed foods in which most antioxidants have been destroyed.

So – just as with the low levels of omega 3s – there might be less antioxidants like vitamin C in the modern diet than the levels we evolved to run on.

Good Bugs

Live Science reports:

Researchers have increasingly begun to suspect the gut was somehow linked with the brain. For instance, bowel disorders seem linked with stress-related psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression in people.

To learn more, scientists experimented with mice by feeding them a broth containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1. This species naturally lives in our gut, and scientists are exploring whether strains of it can be used as “probiotics” to improve our health. They discovered these rodents displayed significantly less behavior linked with stress, anxiety and depression than mice fed plain broth. Bacteria-fed mice also had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone corticosterone in response to stressful situations such as mazes.

“By affecting gut bacteria, you can have very robust and quite broad-spectrum effects on brain chemistry and behavior,” researcher John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland, told LiveScience.

“Without overstating things, this does open up the concept that we could develop therapies that can treat psychiatric disorders by targeting the gut,” Cryan added. “You could take a yogurt with a probiotic in it instead of an antidepressant.”

***

The investigators found that one GABA receptor component was present in higher levels in bacteria-fed mice in parts of the brain where it is normally lowered during depression. In addition, several GABA receptor components were reduced in parts of the brain where they are normally increased in stressed or anxious animals.

Next, the researchers severed the vagus nerve, which helps alert the central nervous system to changes in the gastrointestinal tract. They found the bacteria-induced effects on behavior and GABA receptors were diminished, suggesting this nerve is the pathway by which changes in the gut can influence the brain.

Vagal nerve stimulations have been used at times to treat depression resistant to other therapies, but “that’s a surgical technique,” Cryan said. “By targeting the gut with probiotics, we could indirectly target the vagus nerve without surgery.”

And see this.

As with Omega 3s, this sounds strange until you realize how humans evolved.

As NPR notes, our bodies are largely made up of – and supported by – bacteria:

Jeffrey Gordon, a professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, who studies the microbes that live on and in us, offers this factoid: “We think that there are 10 times more microbial cells on and in our bodies than there are human cells. That means that we’re 90 percent microbial and 10 percent human. There’s also an estimated 100 times more microbial genes than the genes in our human genome. So we’re really a compendium [and] an amalgamation of human and microbial parts.”

***

Gordon’s research shows that these microbes living in our bodies aren’t just there for the ride — they’re actively contributing to the normal physiology of the human body. He points to the trillions of microbes that live in our gut, doing everything from encoding enzymes to serving as pathways for vitamin production to digesting the parts of food we can’t digest on our own.

Many native cultures ate a lot of fermented foods containing healthy bacteria.  Think yogurt, miso and Inuit fermented seal blubber (gross, we know …)

In addition, antibiotics kill a lot of the healthy bacteria in our gut.  (The over-use of antibiotics has also been linked to obesity and other health problems. See this and this.  Indeed, the prestigious journal Nature suggests that antiobiotics may permanently kill off healthy gut bacteria.).

Given that the modern diet contains less fermented foods, and that antibiotics have killed off some of our healthy intestinal flora, probiotics – sold in health food stores – are an important preventative measure against depression.

Sunshine …

The New York Times points out:

A new, carefully designed randomized controlled trial— of the kind considered the gold standard in medicine — suggests bright light therapy deserves a closer look.

The study was small, involving only 89 patients ages 60 and older, but the results were remarkable. Compared with a placebo, light therapy improved mood just as well as conventional antidepressant medications, said Dr. Ritsaert Lieverse, the paper’s lead author and a psychiatrist at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

The effect sizes we found in this study are comparable to those reported for antidepressants, so I think efficacy is of comparable magnitude,” Dr. Lieverse said in an e-mail.

***

Since depression is often accompanied by poor sleep and other symptoms suggestive of circadian rhythm disruption, the scientists also examined markers of circadian function. The theory is that bright light therapy may act to elevate mood by activating the brain’s so-called circadian pacemaker, a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. As part of the study, researchers assessed sleep quality and measured patients’ melatonin, a hormone critical for sleep-wake cycles, and urinary cortisol and salivary cortisol levels, measures of stress.

Dr. Lieverse said bright light therapy may also work by targeting depression-associated neurotransmitter systems that regulate serotonin and dopamine.

Sunshine has many if not all of these properties.  So getting some sun will help with depression.

Exercise and Sex

Many studies show that exercise reduces depression.   For example, see these reports by the Mayo Clinic, New York Times and WebMD.

Sex also helps to prevent depression.

Testosterone

And naturally boosting your testosterone level also wards off depression.

Mindfulness Meditation

Last – but not least – meditation can prevent depression.  Psychology Today reports:

Imagine if you could cure depression with a therapy that was more effective and long-lasting than expensive drugs, and which did not have any side effects. These are the claims being made for a form of Mindfulness meditation.

Psychologists from the University of Exeter recently published a study into “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” (MBCT), finding it to be better than drugs or counseling for depression. Four months after starting, three quarters of the patients felt well enough to stop taking antidepressants.

***

MBCT was developed in the mid-Nineties by psychologists at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Toronto to help stabilize patients’ moods during and after use of antidepressants. About half of patients relapse into depression – even if they continue taking the medication. One common reason for a relapse is when a normal period of sadness turns into obsessive brooding.

***

The MBCT technique is simple, and revolves around “mindfulness meditation”. In this, you sit with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing. (See box for details). Concentrating on the rhythm of the breath helps produce a feeling of detachment. The idea is that you come to realize that thoughts come and go of their own accord, and that your conscious self is distinct from your thoughts. This realization is encouraged by gentle question-and-answer sessions modeled on those in cognitive therapy.

In the University of Exeter study, funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council, 47 per cent of patients with long-term depression suffered a relapse; the figure was 60 per cent among those taking medication alone. Other studies, including two published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, had comparable outcomes. As a result, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended MBCT since 2004. Availability is still patchy though, with many sufferers seeking courses at Buddhist centers.

“One of the key features of depression is that it hijacks your attention,” says Professor Williams. “We all tend to bring to the forefront of our minds the thoughts and feelings that reflect our current mood. If you are sad, depressed or anxious, then you tend to remember the bad things that have happened to you and not the good. This drives you into a downward spiral that leads from sadness into a deeper depression. MBCT prevents and breaks that spiral.”

Psychology Today provides an example of a typical MBCT meditation:

1. Sit upright in a straight-backed chair, with your spine about an inch from the back of the chair, and your feet flat on the floor.

2. Close your eyes. Use your mind to watch your breath as it flows in and out. Observe your sensations without judgment. Do not try to alter your breathing.

3. After a while your mind will wander. Gently bring your attention back to your breath. The act of realizing that your mind has wandered – and bringing your attention back – is the key thing.

4. Your mind will eventually become calm.

5. Repeat every day for 20-30 minutes.

Postscript:  If you are severely depressed and suicidal, contact a mental health professional. 

We are not health professionals, and this does not constitute mental health or medical advice.

Treat Depression … Naturally

If you’re depressed, you might consider asking your doctor to prescribe anti-depressants.

But as best-selling author Christiane Northrup, MD, notes:

In 2008, we learned that the benefits of antidepressants had been greatly overstated. Former FDA psychiatrist Erick H. Turner, M.D. uncovered some startling information about Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), including Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. In reviewing all the medical literature, he learned that 94 percent of the reports showing the therapeutic benefits of SSRIs were published compared to only 14 percent of the reports showing either no benefits or inconclusive results (of taking SSRIs were published). When he weighed all the literature, Dr. Turner determined that SSRIs were no more effective than a placebo for treating most depressive patients. Those with severe depression were helped, sometimes greatly, but those with mild to moderate depression, the majority of cases, received little relief. British researchers using the Freedom of Information Act uncovered identical findings.

In January 2010, another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirms these findings. The newest study also evaluated another class of antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants. Again, researchers determined that the typical patient, one with mild to moderate depression, gets the same amount of relief from a placebo as from an antidepressant.  The first author of the study, Jay C. Fournier, MA, told Medscape, “I think the most surprising part of the findings was how severe depression has to be in order to see this clinically meaningful difference emerge between medication and placebo, and that the majority of depressed patients presenting for treatment do not fall into that very severe category.”

The New York Times reported that the co-author of the study, Robert J. DeRubeis, shared this important insight: “The message for patients with mild to moderate depression is ‘Look, medications are always an option, but there’s little evidence that they add to other efforts to shake depression–whether it’s exercise, seeing the doctor, reading about the disorder or going for psychotherapy.’”

(In addition, modern SSRI anti-depressants have been shown to increase violent and suicidal behavior in a certain percent of the population.)

So what can those with depressive tendencies do?

Secret of Human Evolution

Getting enough Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet is also crucial in preventing depression. As Science Daily notes:

Researchers from Inserm and INRA and their collaborators in Spain collaboration, have studied mice fed on a diet low in omega-3 fatty acid. They discovered that reduced levels of omega-3 had deleterious consequences on synaptic functions and emotional behaviours.

Details of this work are available in the online version of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

***

The researchers studied mice fed a life-long diet imbalanced in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They found that omega-3 deficiency disturbed neuronal communication specifically ….This neuronal dysfunction was accompanied by depressive behaviours among the malnourished mice.

***

Consequently, the researchers discovered that among mice subjected to an omega-3 deficient dietary regime, synaptic plasticity … is disturbed in at least two structures involved with reward, motivation and emotional regulation: the prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens.

***

“Our results can now corroborate clinical and epidemiological studies which have revealed associations between an omega-3/omega-6 imbalance and mood disorders,” explain Olivier Manzoni and Sophie Layé. “To determine if the omega-3 deficiency is responsible for these neuropsychiatric disorders additional studies are, of course, required.”

In conclusion, the authors estimate that their results provide the first biological components of an explanation for the observed correlation between omega-3 poor diets, which are very widespread in the industrialized world, and mood disorders such as depression.

Dr. Northrup writes:

One of the best ways to support health brain chemistry is by taking fish oil. Fish oil has been shown time an again to relieve mild to moderate depression. The omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health and, according to Capt. Joe Hibbeln, M.D., these important fats support the serotonin system, may help reduce stress and lower your risk of all kinds of mental illness. Dr. Hibbeln, Chief of Outpatient Services for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is one of the world’s leading researchers on omega-3 fats. His findings have been compelling and encouraging.

***

Also encouraging is the largest ever clinical trial presenting in 2009 showing that fish oil may benefit half of all people with moderate to severe depression.

How could something as obscure as Omega 3s be so critical in preventing depression?

We’ve previously explained that humans evolved to eat a lot of Omega 3s:

Wild game animals have much higher levels of essential Omega 3 fatty acids than domesticated animals. Indeed, leading nutritionists say that humans evolved to consume a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids in the wild game and fish which they ate (more), and that a low Omega 3 diet is a very new trend within the last 100 years or so.

In other words, while omega 3s have just now been discovered by modern science, we evolved to get a lot of omega 3s … and if we just eat a modern, fast food diet without getting enough omega 3s, it can cause all sorts of health problems.

So something just discovered by science can be a central fuel which our bodies evolved to use.

Here’s further detail focusing on beef:

For all of human history – until the last couple of decades – people ate beef from cows (or buffalo or bison) which grazed on grass. The cows were usually strong and healthy. Their meat was lean, with very little saturated fat, as the critters ate well and got outdoor exercise. Their meat was high in good Omega 3 fats. See this and this, and humans evolved to consume a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids in the wild game and fish which they ate (more).

Today, on the other hand, beef is laden with saturated fat and almost entirely lacking healthy fats like Omega 3s, because the cows are force-fed food which makes them sick. Specifically, instead of their natural menu – grass – they are force-fed corn, which makes them sick. Because their diet makes them ill, they are given massive amounts of antibiotics.  Even with the antibiotics, the diet and living conditions would kill them pretty quickly if they aren’t slaughtered.

Science Daily explains:

In industrialized nations, diets have been impoverished in essential fatty acids since the beginning of the 20th century. The dietary ratio between omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 increased continuously over the course of the 20th century. These fatty acids are “essential” lipids because the body cannot synthesize them from new. They must therefore be provided through food and their dietary balance is essential to maintain optimal brain functions.

So insufficient Omega 3s is a major source of depression in modern industrialized countries.

The flip side of getting enough healthy Omega 3s is to stay away from the kind of fats which cause depression: trans fats.

(Contrary to what you’ve heard, getting enough of the right kind of healthy cholesterol also decreases depression.)

Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants …

Antioxidants also help to prevent depression.  Specifically, oxidative stress has been correlated with depression (and see here).

On the other hand, antioxidants reduce depression. See this, this and thisHere are the tricks for finding the least expensive, most powerful antioxidants.

Moreover, a multivitamin might be smart.  Specifically, Hugh D. Riordan, M.D., argues:

It is possible to become depressed because of the lack of a sufficient amount of a single trace element.

And as we’ve previously noted, modern foods can be nutritionally depleted:

We evolved eating foods which were high in vitamins and minerals ….

But as the Journal Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology notes:

With soil depletion, overfarming and transportation of foods over hundreds of miles with loss of nutrients en route, together with the increased use of convenience and fast foods, women can be over-fed, but under-nourished in our modern society.

The Nutrition Journal points out:

In 1927 a study at King’s College, University of London, of the chemical composition of foods was initiated … to assist with diabetic dietary guidance. The study evolved and was then broadened to determine all the important organic and mineral constituents of foods, it was financed by the Medical Research Council and eventually published in 1940. Over the next 51 years subsequent editions reflected changing national dietary habits and food laws as well as advances in analytical procedures. The most recent (5th Edition) published in 1991 has comprehensively analysed 14 different categories of foods and beverages. In order to provide some insight into any variation in the quality of the foods available to us as a nation between 1940 and 1991 it was possible to compare and contrast the mineral content of 27 varieties of vegetable, 17 varieties of fruit, 10 cuts of meat and some milk and cheese products. The results demonstrate that there has been a significant loss of minerals and trace elements in these foods over that period of time.

Scripps Howard News Service noted in 2006:

The nutritional content of America’s vegetables and fruits has declined during the past 50 years — in some cases dramatically.

Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas, said that of 13 major nutrients in fruits and vegetables tracked by the Agriculture Department from 1950 to 1999, six showed noticeable declines — protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C. The declines ranged from 6 percent for protein, 15 percent for iron, 20 percent for vitamin C, and 38 percent for riboflavin.

“It’s an amazing thing,” said Davis, adding that the decline in nutrient content has not been widely noticed.

Many other studies have reported ongoing soil depletion around the world.

***

And many people eat highly processed foods in which most antioxidants have been destroyed.

So – just as with the low levels of omega 3s – there might be less antioxidants like vitamin C in the modern diet than the levels we evolved to run on.

Good Bugs

Live Science reports:

Researchers have increasingly begun to suspect the gut was somehow linked with the brain. For instance, bowel disorders seem linked with stress-related psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression in people.

To learn more, scientists experimented with mice by feeding them a broth containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1. This species naturally lives in our gut, and scientists are exploring whether strains of it can be used as “probiotics” to improve our health. They discovered these rodents displayed significantly less behavior linked with stress, anxiety and depression than mice fed plain broth. Bacteria-fed mice also had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone corticosterone in response to stressful situations such as mazes.

“By affecting gut bacteria, you can have very robust and quite broad-spectrum effects on brain chemistry and behavior,” researcher John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland, told LiveScience.

“Without overstating things, this does open up the concept that we could develop therapies that can treat psychiatric disorders by targeting the gut,” Cryan added. “You could take a yogurt with a probiotic in it instead of an antidepressant.”

***

The investigators found that one GABA receptor component was present in higher levels in bacteria-fed mice in parts of the brain where it is normally lowered during depression. In addition, several GABA receptor components were reduced in parts of the brain where they are normally increased in stressed or anxious animals.

Next, the researchers severed the vagus nerve, which helps alert the central nervous system to changes in the gastrointestinal tract. They found the bacteria-induced effects on behavior and GABA receptors were diminished, suggesting this nerve is the pathway by which changes in the gut can influence the brain.

Vagal nerve stimulations have been used at times to treat depression resistant to other therapies, but “that’s a surgical technique,” Cryan said. “By targeting the gut with probiotics, we could indirectly target the vagus nerve without surgery.”

And see this.

As with Omega 3s, this sounds strange until you realize how humans evolved.

As NPR notes, our bodies are largely made up of – and supported by – bacteria:

Jeffrey Gordon, a professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, who studies the microbes that live on and in us, offers this factoid: “We think that there are 10 times more microbial cells on and in our bodies than there are human cells. That means that we’re 90 percent microbial and 10 percent human. There’s also an estimated 100 times more microbial genes than the genes in our human genome. So we’re really a compendium [and] an amalgamation of human and microbial parts.”

***

Gordon’s research shows that these microbes living in our bodies aren’t just there for the ride — they’re actively contributing to the normal physiology of the human body. He points to the trillions of microbes that live in our gut, doing everything from encoding enzymes to serving as pathways for vitamin production to digesting the parts of food we can’t digest on our own.

Many native cultures ate a lot of fermented foods containing healthy bacteria.  Think yogurt, miso and Inuit fermented seal blubber (gross, we know …)

In addition, antibiotics kill a lot of the healthy bacteria in our gut.  (The healthy bacteria-killing property of antibiotics has also been linked to obesity and other health problems. See this and this.).

Given that the modern diet contains less fermented foods, and that antibiotics have killed off some of our intestinal flora, probiotics are an important preventative measure against depression.

Sunshine …

The New York Times points out:

A new, carefully designed randomized controlled trial— of the kind considered the gold standard in medicine — suggests bright light therapy deserves a closer look.

The study was small, involving only 89 patients ages 60 and older, but the results were remarkable. Compared with a placebo, light therapy improved mood just as well as conventional antidepressant medications, said Dr. Ritsaert Lieverse, the paper’s lead author and a psychiatrist at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

The effect sizes we found in this study are comparable to those reported for antidepressants, so I think efficacy is of comparable magnitude,” Dr. Lieverse said in an e-mail.

***

Since depression is often accompanied by poor sleep and other symptoms suggestive of circadian rhythm disruption, the scientists also examined markers of circadian function. The theory is that bright light therapy may act to elevate mood by activating the brain’s so-called circadian pacemaker, a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. As part of the study, researchers assessed sleep quality and measured patients’ melatonin, a hormone critical for sleep-wake cycles, and urinary cortisol and salivary cortisol levels, measures of stress.

Dr. Lieverse said bright light therapy may also work by targeting depression-associated neurotransmitter systems that regulate serotonin and dopamine.

Sunshine has many if not all of these properties.  So getting some sun will help with depression.

Exercise and Sex

Many studies show that exercise reduces depression.   For example, see these reports by the Mayo Clinic, New York Times and WebMD.

Sex also helps to prevent depression.

Testosterone

And naturally boosting your testosterone level also wards off depression.

Mindfulness Meditation

Last – but not least – meditation can prevent depression.  Psychology Today reports:

Imagine if you could cure depression with a therapy that was more effective and long-lasting than expensive drugs, and which did not have any side effects. These are the claims being made for a form of Mindfulness meditation.

Psychologists from the University of Exeter recently published a study into “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” (MBCT), finding it to be better than drugs or counseling for depression. Four months after starting, three quarters of the patients felt well enough to stop taking antidepressants.

***

MBCT was developed in the mid-Nineties by psychologists at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Toronto to help stabilize patients’ moods during and after use of antidepressants. About half of patients relapse into depression – even if they continue taking the medication. One common reason for a relapse is when a normal period of sadness turns into obsessive brooding.

***

The MBCT technique is simple, and revolves around “mindfulness meditation”. In this, you sit with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing. (See box for details). Concentrating on the rhythm of the breath helps produce a feeling of detachment. The idea is that you come to realize that thoughts come and go of their own accord, and that your conscious self is distinct from your thoughts. This realization is encouraged by gentle question-and-answer sessions modeled on those in cognitive therapy.

In the University of Exeter study, funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council, 47 per cent of patients with long-term depression suffered a relapse; the figure was 60 per cent among those taking medication alone. Other studies, including two published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, had comparable outcomes. As a result, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended MBCT since 2004. Availability is still patchy though, with many sufferers seeking courses at Buddhist centers.

“One of the key features of depression is that it hijacks your attention,” says Professor Williams. “We all tend to bring to the forefront of our minds the thoughts and feelings that reflect our current mood. If you are sad, depressed or anxious, then you tend to remember the bad things that have happened to you and not the good. This drives you into a downward spiral that leads from sadness into a deeper depression. MBCT prevents and breaks that spiral.”

Psychology Today provides an example of a typical MBCT meditation:

1. Sit upright in a straight-backed chair, with your spine about an inch from the back of the chair, and your feet flat on the floor.

2. Close your eyes. Use your mind to watch your breath as it flows in and out. Observe your sensations without judgment. Do not try to alter your breathing.

3. After a while your mind will wander. Gently bring your attention back to your breath. The act of realizing that your mind has wandered – and bringing your attention back – is the key thing.

4. Your mind will eventually become calm.

5. Repeat every day for 20-30 minutes.

Postscript:  If you are severely depressed and suicidal, contact a mental health professional. 

We are not health professionals, and this does not constitute mental health or medical advice.

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New Study Shows Anti-Choice Policies Leading to Widespread Arrests of and Forced Interventions on...

On Tuesday, January 15th, the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law will publish our study, “Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005: Implications for Women’s Legal Status and Public Health.” This study makes clear that post-Roe anti-choice and “pro-life” measures are being used to do more than limit access to abortion; they are providing the basis for arresting women, locking them up, and forcing them to submit to medical interventions, including surgery. The cases documented in our study through 2005, as well as more recent cases, make clear that 40 years after Roe v. Wade was decided, far more is at stake than abortion or women’s reproductive rights. Pregnant women face attacks on virtually every right associated with constitutional personhood, including the very basic right to physical liberty.  

Our study identified 413 criminal and civil cases involving the arrests, detentions, and equivalent deprivations of pregnant women’s physical liberty that occurred between 1973 (when Roe v. Wade was decided) and 2005. Because many cases are not reported publicly, we know that this is a substantial under count. Furthermore, new data collection indicates that at least 250 such interventions have taken place since 2005.

In almost all of the cases we identified, the arrests and other actions would not have happened but for the fact that the woman was pregnant at the time of the alleged violation of law. And, in almost every case we identified, the person who initiated the action had no direct legal authority for doing so. No state legislature has passed a law that holds women legally liable for the outcome of their pregnancies. No state legislature has passed a law making it a crime for a pregnant woman to continue her pregnancy to term in spite of a drug or alcohol problem. No state has passed a law exempting pregnant women from the protections of the state and federal constitution. And, under Roe v. Wade, abortion remains legal.

Yet, since 1973, many states have passed feticide measures and laws restricting access to safe abortion care that, like so-called “personhood” measures, encourage state actors to treat eggs, embryos, and fetuses as if they are legally separate from the pregnant woman. We found that these laws have been used as the basis for a disturbing range of punitive state actions in every region of the country and against women of every race, though disproportionately against women in the South, low-income women and African-American women.  

Women have been arrested while still pregnant, taken straight from the hospital in handcuffs, and sometimes shackled around the waist and at the ankles. Pregnant women have been held under house arrest and incarcerated in jails and prisons. Pregnant women have been held in locked psychiatric wards, as well as in hospitals and in drug treatment programs under 24-hour guard. They have been forced to undergo intimate medical exams and blood transfusions over their religious objections. Women have been forced to submit to cesarean surgery. They have been arrested shortly after giving birth while dressed only in hospital gowns. And, despite claims by some anti-choice activists that women themselves will not be arrested if abortion is re-criminalized, women who have ended their pregnancies and had abortions are already being arrested.  

Consider the following:

  • A woman in Utah gave birth to twins. When one was stillborn, she was arrested and charged with criminal homicide based on the claim that her decision to delay cesarean surgery was the cause of the stillbirth.
  • After a hearing that lasted less than a day, a court issued an order requiring a critically-ill pregnant woman in Washington, D.C. to undergo cesarean surgery over her objections. Neither she nor her baby survived.
  • A judge in Ohio kept a woman imprisoned to prevent her from having an abortion.
  • A woman in Oregon who did not comply with a doctor’s recommendation to have additional testing for gestational diabetes was subjected to involuntary civil commitment. During her detention, the additional testing was never performed.
  • A Louisiana woman was charged with murder and spent approximately a year in jail before her counsel was able to show that what was deemed a murder of a fetus or newborn was actually a miscarriage that resulted from medication given to her by a health care provider.
  • In Texas, a pregnant woman who sometimes smoked marijuana to ease nausea and boost her appetite gave birth to healthy twins.  She was arrested for delivery of a controlled substance to a minor.
  • A doctor in Wisconsin had concerns about a woman’s plans to have her birth attended by a midwife. As a result, a civil court order of protective custody for the woman’s fetus was obtained. The order authorized the sheriff’s department to take the woman into custody, transport her to a hospital, and subject her to involuntary testing and medical treatment.

As disturbing as our findings are, this study also provides a basis for building a shared public health and political agenda that includes all pregnant women. The current public debate overwhelmingly focuses on the issue of abortion and interference with one kind of right: the right to end an unwanted and untenable pregnancy. This study, however, confirms that if passed, so called “personhood” measures would: 1) provide the basis for arresting pregnant women who have abortions; and 2) provide state actors with the authority to subject all pregnant women to surveillance, arrest, incarceration, and other deprivations of liberty whether women seek to end a pregnancy or not.

Furthermore, the study demonstrates that there is no way to add fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses to state constitutions or to the United States Constitution without removing all pregnant women from the community of constitutional persons. These measures create a “Jane Crow” system of law, establishing a separate and unequal status for all pregnant women and disproportionately punishing African-American and low-income women.

For example, last week, a Tennessee woman who had been in a car accident was tested to see if she had been driving under the influence of alcohol. According to local press, her blood alcohol content was well below the legal limit. Nevertheless, because she told a police officer that she was four months pregnant, she was arrested and taken to jail. Tennessee apparently recognizes a special crime reserved just for pregnant women:  driving whilenot intoxicated.

We are confident that most people in the United States, regardless of their views on abortion, do not want to see pregnant women subjected to a separate and unequal system of law as a result of “pro-life” measures. To that end, we call for a culture of life that values all women, including those who give birth to that life, and recommend:

  • The rejection of “personhood” measures;
  • A moratorium on new feticide laws and a fair and open inquiry into whether such laws—passed with the promise of protecting pregnant women and fetuses—have actually reduced violence against pregnant women or rather increased legal surveillance of women;
  • That health care providers ensure that pregnant women are afforded the same confidentiality, respect, and dignity extended to other patients;
  • That lawmakers adopt policies that promote women’s health and remove barriers to family planning and contraceptive services, abortion services, birthing options, and effective and humane drug treatment, and address the stark racial and economic inequalities that are perpetuated by the United States war on drugs and our system of mass incarceration;

Finally, we call upon legislative authorities and others to affirm the personhood of pregnant women, ensuring that upon becoming pregnant and through all stages of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, women retain their civil and human rights.

Deaths From All Causes: The Short (But Not Necessarily Happy) Life Of Americans

Wolf Richter   www.testosteronepit.com   www.amazon.com/author/wolfrichter

Americans under fifty are paying the price. We don’t know exactly why. Even the panel of experts that authored the massive report, U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health, admits that it can’t entirely pinpoint the reasons. But we do know how Americans under fifty, particularly males, are paying the price: with their lives.

The US health disadvantage, as the report calls it, is more prevalent among “socioeconomically disadvantaged groups.” But even if you’re “white, insured, college-educated, or in upper-income groups” and live a healthy lifestyle, you’re less likely to make it to 50 than your counterparts in the other 16 wealthy “peer” countries of the study—Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US. And if you do make it to 50, you’re going to get there in worse shape.

The report, based on mortality studies for the years through 2008, carves out three categories, “Deaths from Noncommunicable Diseases,” “Deaths from Communicable, Maternal, Perinatal, Nutritional Conditions,” and “Deaths from Injuries.” The latter, which I discussed in yesterday’s post, distinguished between deaths from “intentional injuries” and “unintentional injuries.” Grisly statistics. [Read.... How Americans Stack Up In Dying From Violence, War, Suicide, And Accidents].

“Deaths from Communicable, Maternal, Perinatal, Nutritional Conditions” is divided into dozens of categories and subcategories, and every country has its own nightmare. In Portugal for example, 7.4 people per 100,000 die of HIV/AIDS, more than double the rate of the country next in line, the US (3.4), and 246 times the rate of Japan (0.03).

Do the Japanese cover up their deaths from that scourge by declaring a different cause of death, such as pneumonia? Or is their reliance on condoms for birth control responsible for that immense success, at least in the hetero community? For example, in love hotels, and they’re everywhere, there is always a condom near the bed. One. If you need more, bring your own. One of thousands of tidbits I discovered in Japan—that all became the backdrop to an awesome story. And then a book. It started in France with a Japanese girl. Check it out on Amazon.... BIG LIKE: CASCADE INTO AN ODYSSEY.

Yet in Japan, 29.7 people per 100,000 die of respiratory infections, three times the rate in the US (9.7) and almost eight times the rate of Finland (3.9). On the other hand, in Japan, with its socialized healthcare system, the infant mortality rate is only 1.3 per 100,000. In the US, it’s 7.1. Over five times the Japanese rate. By far the worst in the group. But is it an endorsement of socialized healthcare? The second and third worst countries in infant mortality, Canada (5.9) and the UK (5.2), also have socialized healthcare. No easy answers.

Another conundrum: in deaths due to nutritional deficiencies, France is in the hot seat with 2.0 deaths per 100,000, twice the US rate (1.0), and way ahead of third place, Finland (0.14).

Overall, Finland has the lowest rate of “Deaths from Communicable, Maternal, Perinatal, Nutritional Conditions,” with 11.1 deaths per 100,000 people. On the other end of the spectrum: the US (33.7), the UK (36.1), Japan (40), and Portugal (45.5). So the chance of dying from these diseases in the US is three times higher than in Finland; but in Portugal, it’s four times higher.

Non-communicable diseases are the biggest killers. And easy answers remain elusive. For example, melanoma and other skin cancers kill 5.8 Australian per 100,000, the worst in the group. So we speculate about the ozone hole, the brutal sun, and people spending time on the beach. In Japan, the death rate is 0.47, by far the lowest in the group. So we speculate about people wearing gloves, hats, and protective garments every time they step outside. But then Norway has the second highest rate of deaths (4.7), followed by other northern countries, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The US (2.8) is in the middle of the pack. And sunny Italy (2.0) and Spain (1.8) are outdone only by Japan.

Wedged between “Deaths from Neuropsychiatric Conditions,” such as unipolar depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and epilepsy are deaths from “Alcohol Use Disorders.” Danes succumb to it at a rate of 9.9 per 100,000—not including accidents. Next the French (4.0), the Germans (3.9), and the Austrians (3.9). For the latter two, the culprit may be per-capita beer consumption [Beer, A Reflection Of The World Economy?]. The US (1.6) is in the middle of the pack. At the bottom: Spain (0.38), Italy (0.25), and Japan (0.16).

In another conundrum, Alzheimer and other dementias kill Finns at the highest rate (34.9) followed by Americans (24.8)—both countries with relatively low life expectancies. At the bottom, Germans (5.9), Austrians (4.4), and the people who live longer than just about anyone else, the Japanese (2.5).

Cardiovascular diseases are a scourge in all wealthy countries, led by Germany (174.9), Finland (163.6), and the US (155.7). Least affected: Mediterranean countries Spain (115.7) and France (99.2), and finally Japan (97.3).

But there are some areas where Americans are lucky. Stomach cancer, for example, kills 2.76 Americans per 100,000, but six times more Japanese (16.8); and liver cancer kills 3.9 Americans per 100,000, as compared to 11.1 Japanese, almost three times more. Overall, non-communicable diseases kill Danes at a rate of 440 per 100,000, Americans at a rate of 418, and Japanese, the healthiest in that respect, at a rate of 272.

So, life expectancy for Americans is ugly:

“Something fundamental is going wrong,” lamented Dr. Steven Woolf, who chaired the panel. “This is not the product of a particular administration or political party. Something at the core is causing the U.S. to slip behind these other high-income countries. And it’s getting worse.”

The panel tried to nail down the culprits: a health-care system that leaves millions of people uninsured, the highest rate of poverty, education, eating habits, socioeconomic and behavioral differences, cities built for cars not pedestrians.... But it determined that these reasons cannot adequately explain the differences—because even wealthy, educated, insured whites with healthy lifestyles are getting the short end of the stick.

And worse: high infant mortality, traffic accidents, violence, HIV and AIDS, and alcohol-related mortality hit younger age groups the hardest—leaving them with a lower probability of surviving to age 50 than their peers in wealthy countries. And the lucky ones who do reach 50 get there “in poorer health than their counterparts.”

All this despite the costliest of all healthcare systems that eats up 18% of GDP. But now anecdotal evidence is coagulating into numbers that weigh down corporate earnings calls. It appears the wily consumer is having second thoughts about prescription drugs. And is fighting back. A paradigm shift that is causing “unprecedented concerns” in the industry. Read.... The Consumer Revolts Against Prescription Drugs.

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