Drugging is always easier

From the New York Times

Antipsychotic Drugs Called Hazardous for the Elderly

Nearly one in seven elderly nursing home residents, nearly all of them with dementia, are given powerful atypical antipsychotic drugs even though the medicines increase the risks of death and are not approved for such treatments, a government audit found.
 
While the Food and Drug Administration has warned doctors that using antipsychotic drugs in elderly patients with dementia increases their risks of death, doctors continue the practice because they have few other good choices, said Dr. Daniel J. Carlat, editor in chief of The Carlat Psychiatry Report, a medical education newsletter for psychiatrists.

“Doctors want to maximize quality of life by treating the patient’s agitation even if that means the patient will die a bit sooner,” Dr. Carlat said.

This last remark is priceless. In the case of the “mentally ill,” that would be twenty-five years sooner.

Bless you, Doris Lessing

Thanks to Beyond Meds for bringing to our attention Doris Lessing’s thoughts on schizophrenia. “So, craziness is not as far away as we’d like to think,” and she goes on further in the article to give her thoughts about loneliness bringing on craziness and how what we call Alzheimers and dementia might be linked to the loneliness of old age.

My mother started to develop signs of dementia about the same time that Chris began developing signs of dementia praecox (schizophrenia). I don’t know what really caused this, we tend to think of it as something that just happens in old age, but I do know that it began to develop around the time that my parents decided it was time to move back to Canada from Florida to be closer to my sister. The timing of this has convinced me to avoid making any life-changing decisions involving moving great distances when I am that old. My mother was a very intelligent woman and she was panicked by dementia. But, it was noticeable that she would “rise to the occasion” as my father would say, when they had company. She otherwise would spend many lonely hours in a house and a town she didn’t know or care for, humming to herself. For a while, she could still win at bridge.

My sisters and I wanted my father to get a break from being a twenty-four hour caregiver, so we tried to persuade my mother to check out an activities program at the local hospital. She sensed something was wrong as we drove into the parking lot. She started to curse under her breath that there was no way in hell she was going to go to a “program.” Miraculously, she pulled herself together on the tour on the five pin bowling room and the art therapy class. You would never know she had problems by the way she asked appropriate questions and professed great admiration for the set-up. She thanked the staff very nicely and then went home and refused to go back.

We once left Chris by himself for a week when my husband and I were both on business travel. This was at a time when he seemed to be well enough for us to chance it. When I got home, he was acting really strange He had drawn all the blinds and was talking gibberish and acting “spooked.” This took a few weeks to work its way through. It was enough to convince me that being alone, being abandoned, is the almost worst thing that can happen to someone.

Niacin prevents Alzheimer’s disease

I have been exchanging a flurry of e-mails with my older sister over the past few days. Since my mother developed the signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s (does it really matter which?) in her late seventies, her three daughters have been understandably concerned about preventing it.

I first learned about prevention of dementia from Dr. Abram Hoffer. He experienced great success with his own mother and went on to recommend it for other members of his family, none of whom developed dementia. I immediately started on the same combination of vitamins that Dr. Hoffer recommends for schizophrenia. I felt there was a connection between my mother’s dementia and Chris’s schizophrenia. Both are related to the nervous system.

I saw dramatic results within three days. These results have stayed with me. I am faithful to my daily regime of 3 grams Vitamin B3, 3 grams vitamin C, 3 B complex tablets, omega 3 and zinc.

Dramatic results:

1. Sharp, focused thinking
2. Improved skin
3. Thicker hair

Dr. Hoffer advises that you reverse dementia if you catch its early signs, which he did with his mother, but that once dementia has set in, there is no turning back the symptoms. He also advises that if you begin the regime in your sixties, you need straight niacin, not niacinimide or flushless niacin.

Here’s an interesting background story on niacin preventing Alzheimer’s disease from the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, dated December 9, 2008
http://www.orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v04n25.shtml I urge you to read it.

Orthomolecular Dr. Hoffer

Dr Abram Hoffer is the dean of orthomolecular psychiatry. He is the first, the starting point, the base, for anyone who wants to learn more about what schizophrenia is and how best to treat it using vitamin support. Orthomolecular is a term coined by Nobel laureate Dr Linus Pauling. It means “the right molecule”. It is using supplemements to correct biochemical imbalances.

Dr Hoffer is still going strong at over 90 years old. I like Dr. Hoffer. I wrote him a fan letter in 2005 after Chris had been on his recommended combination of niacinimide (vitamin B3), vitamin C, B-complex, omega 3 and zinc for only a few weeks. The changes in Chris after such a short time were noticeable, despite the fact he had been on meds for over a year. He was more focused and engaged. His skin became clearer. His hair, which was becoming alarmingly thin for someone his age, became thicker.

Dr Hoffer’s book, How to Live with Schizophrenia, is a must read. It is positive and upbeat, unlike some other well-known and widely quoted authorities on schizophrenia. It is loaded with good tips and really interesting observations. He respects his patients and learns from them.

I also have been faithfully using his recommended combination of vitamins since 2005. Interestingly, what works for schizophrenia also works to prevent alzheimers/dementia, according to Dr Hoffer. Here, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is the word “prevent”. Once dementia begins, vitamins are ineffective. The closer in age you are to dementia (for all practical purposes in your sixties) you should substitute niacin for niacinimide. If you are in your fifties, you should begin with 3 grams of niacinimide per day and an equal amount of vitamin C (to prevent liver damage), a B complex (to make the other vitamins work more efficiently), and throw in an omega 3 and a zinc or another B vitamin (B-6, B-12). Niacin produces a burning sensation in your body. It is harmless, but nonetheless rather scary if you don’t know what to expect.

I never plan to be without Dr Hoffer’s recommended schizophrenia/dementia vitamins. People laughingly refer to “senior moments”, but in my early fifties I was having trouble focusing. At the time I attributed it to the stress of juggling family and work responsibilities, but I feel now that my brain was tired. After only a few days on the niacinimide formula, I felt on top of my game intellectually. I could push through to complete a complex series of thoughts. I now had intellectual energy whereas before I had little. I began reading more complex books. I began to write my own book. Like Chris, my skin became amazingly clear. My hair grew back its former thickness. I was much calmer.

If you think of holistic health as a pyramid, orthomolecular medicine is the broad base of the pyramid. Proper foods, vitamins and minerals are the building blocks of good health.

Here is Dr Hoffer’s vitamin package, courtesy of the Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation.

SUPPLEMENTS: Vitamin B3 (niacin or niacinamide) 0.5 – 2 grams 3 times daily. Vitamin B6 (for many) 250-500 mg daily. A general B vitamin formula. Vitamin C, 3 or more grams daily. Zinc (gluconate or citrate) 50 mg daily. Manganese 15-30 mg daily (if there is danger of tardive dyskinesia).