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Posts Tagged ‘antidepressants

Science Policy Around the Web – April 10, 2018

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By: Allison Dennis B.S.

Linkpost_20180410

source: pixabay

Mental Health

Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit

15 million American adults have taken antidepressants for a period longer than five years, in spite of the fact that these drugs were originally approved for short-term treatment, lasting less than nine months. Many doctors agree that a lifetime prescription may be necessary for the treatment of some patients. However, many are concerned that some patients may simply be accepting long-term use of antidepressants when faced with the challenge of stopping.

Surveys have shown that choosing to stop long-term medications is not a straightforward process with many patients reporting withdrawal effects. Some antidepressants take weeks to break down and leave the body, and their absence can induce feelings of anxiety, insomnia, nausea, “brain zaps,” and even depression itself. Antidepressants are one of the most frequently prescribed therapeutics by physicians, yet the drugs’ labels do not outline how to end a prescription safely. Patients may have to turn to online resources, including  The Withdrawal Project, which provides a community based approach to provide support, but whose writers are self-described as “laypeople who have direct personal experience or who have supported someone else in the process of reducing or tapering off psychiatric medication,” but are not medical professionals.

The benefits of antidepressants in the treatment of depression is undeniable, leaving government regulators cautious about limiting their availability. Antidepressant manufacturers appear unwilling to dive into research characterizing the discontinuation syndrome experienced when patients try to stop, feeling their efforts to demonstrate the drugs are safe and effective is sufficient. Academic and clinical researchers have occasionally tackled the issue, but few studies have looked at the barriers facing open-ended antidepressant prescription holders.

(Benedict Carey and Robert Gebeloff, The New York Times)

Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists Push Plan To Change How Researchers Define Alzheimer’s

Currently, the 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s are identified through a panel of symptoms including memory problems or fuzzy thinking. However these symptoms are the product of biological changes scientists feel may be an earlier and more accurate marker of disease. On the biological level, Alzheimer’s can be characterized by the accumulation of several characteristic structures in brain tissue including, plaques, abnormal clusters of protein that accumulate between nerve cells, tangles, twisted fibers that form inside dying cells, and the build up of glial cells, which ordinarily work to clear debris from the brain. It is unclear if these changes are driving the widespread disconnection and destruction of neurons exhibited in the parts of the brain involved in memory and later in those responsible for language and reasoning in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients or just a byproduct of a yet-to-be-discovered process.

A work group formed by collaborators at the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association are putting forward a research framework which defines Alzheimer’s by the progression of a panel of risk factors, including neuropathology, tangles, plaques, and neurodegeneration. By allowing these biomarkers to fall along a continuum, the group is accommodating the observation that the exhibition of these traits can vary widely between individuals and may not always co-occur with symptoms. Yet the framework is intended to “create a common language with which the research community can test hypotheses about the interactions between Alzheimer’s Disease pathologic processes.”

Although much of the research is preliminary, specialized brain scans and tests of spinal fluid are already being designed to identify these biomarkers directly. The biomarkers included on the continuum can be observed 20-30 years prior to symptoms, fostering the hope that early interventions could be implemented to slow disease progression or even prevent it in the first place.

(Jon Hamilton, NPR)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

April 11, 2018 at 6:11 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – June 22, 2014

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By: Jennifer Plank

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Administration Takes Steps to Aid Bees – In recent hears, the numbers of honey bees and other pollinators have drastically decreased. In order to address the issue, President Obama has assembled a “pollinator health task force” consisting of individuals from 14 different federal agencies to address the decline and to determine if pesticides played a role in the reduction. (Josh Schwartz)

U.S. Senate wants more support for science at black colleges – The Senate appropriations committee has been urging the NSF to provide more funding for research and programs at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The NSF agrees with the sentiment, but would prefer to address the issue on their own terms. A 2015 spending bill addresses the issue in 3 ways. 1- HBCUs should receive no less than 3 (out of 15) grants awards through I-Corps, 2- NSF should set aside $7.5 million for programs to attract minorities into the life sciences, and 3- the NSF should form a panel to address mechanisms to approve opportunities at HBCUs. (Jeffrey Mervis)

Report: Government warnings about antidepressants may have led to more suicide attempts – Beginning in the 2003, the government began issues warnings that children and adolescents may have increased suicidal thoughts while taking antidepressants. A recent study published in BMJ suggests that the warnings resulted in increased suicide attempts by young people because patients were afraid of seeking treatment. These findings further suggest that the warnings placed on antidepressants such as Paxil and Zoloft may have had unintended consequences. (Brady Dennis)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

June 22, 2014 at 4:32 pm