The Smartphone Psychiatrist

Sometime around 2010, about two-thirds of the way through his 13 years at the helm of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)—the world’s largest mental-health research institution—Tom Insel started speaking with unusual frankness about how both psychiatry and his own institute were failing to help the mentally ill. Insel, runner-trim, quietly alert, and constitutionally diplomatic, did not rant about this. It’s not in him. You won’t hear him trash-talk colleagues or critics.

Yet within the bounds of his unbroken civility, Insel began voicing something between a regret and an indictment. In writings and public talks, he lamented the pharmaceutical industry’s failure to develop effective new drugs for depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia; academic psychiatry’s overly cozy relationship with Big Pharma; and the paucity of treatments produced by the billions of dollars the NIMH had spent during his tenure. He blogged about the failure of psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to provide a productive theoretical basis for research, then had the NIMH ditch the DSMaltogether—a decision that roiled the psychiatric establishment. Perhaps most startling, he began opening public talks by showing charts that revealed psychiatry as an underachieving laggard: While medical advances in the previous half century had reduced mortality rates from childhood leukemia, heart disease, and aids by 50 percent or more, they had failed to reduce suicide or disability from depression or schizophrenia.

Published on the Atlantic website as part of their July/August 2017 issue
Written by: David Dobbs

Anorexia Nervosa Linked to Genetic Anomalies on Chromosome 12

A large-scale, international whole-genome analysis has now revealed for the first time that anorexia nervosa is associated with genetic anomalies on chromosome 12. This finding might lead to new, interdisciplinary approaches to its treatment. The study was led by the University of North Carolina and has been published in the prestigious “American Journal of Psychiatry”. Child and adolescent psychiatrist Andreas Karwautz from MedUni Vienna’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry was responsible for the Austrian contribution.

Read more…
Published on News Medical  on 6.12.17

Treatment for Eating Disorders Goes Mobile

Every day for the past six months, a 29-year-old actress in New York has been logging every meal via an app to monitor what she eats and more importantly how she feels afterward.

“It shows the correlation between the emotion and food,” said the actress, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym, Anita. “That’s really great.”

Anita uses a mobile app called Recovery Record, part of a growing trend of mobile technology designed to help people with eating disorders.

Now the National Eating Disorders Association is hoping to capitalize on that trend by partnering with Recovery Record on a new platform called Renew.

The new platform builds on the app that Anita taps into by allowing users to receive personalized guidance for coping with eating disorder symptoms.

The aim is to reach more people suffering from eating disorders and connect them to the national association’s crisis helpline, other tools and treatment.

Published on the ABC News website on 3.6.17
Written by: Gillian Mohney

Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) Press Release: Eating Disorders Eligible for Research Funding to Help Military Servicemembers and Families

Eating Disorders Eligible for Research Funding to Help Military Servicemembers and Families

Led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito, for the first time eating disorders are eligible for research funding to help our warriors and their families affected by this serious mental illness.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 30, 2017) — As we remember our fallen warriors this past weekend, Congress has taken another step forward to helping the men and women serving our country. After months of negotiations and two Continuing Resolutions, Congress reached an agreement to fund the federal government’s FY 2017 budget on May 5th. This budget package represents the first time that Congress permitted federal research funding to help our military members and their families affected by eating disorders. Led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito [R-WV] on the Appropriations Committee, along with support from Senator Amy Klobuchar [DMN] and former Senator Kelly Ayotte [R-NH] through a letter to the Committee, these Senators worked to ensure that eating disorders be included in the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program’s (CDMRP) Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program. The CDMRP supports research across the full range of science and medicine, with an underlying goal of enhancing the health and well-being of military servicemembers, veterans, retirees, and their family members. This will provide an average of $3-$5 million in new eating disorders research funding.

“Our servicemen and women devote their lives to keeping America safe and free, and it’s important that we do our part to make sure they are cared for as well,” Senator Capito said. “These funds will support important research to help military families and their loved ones who are struggling with eating disorders, and I’m thrilled we were able to secure them in the recent funding agreement. I will continue working to ensure all our servicemen and women have the care and support they need.”

Published on the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) website on 5.30.17

Silicon Valley Teens: Less Sex, Drugs, and Violence, but Bored in School

SAN JOSE — Fewer high school students are drinking, having sex, doing drugs and resorting to violence, a large-scale survey of Santa Clara County public school students shows. At the same time, engagement in school has plunged, as has students’ optimism about their future.

This mixed picture of youth well-being emerges in Project Cornerstone’s Silicon Valley youth survey — the first in six years — of 43,000 youths at more than 180 elementary, middle and high schools in Santa Clara County. The survey was administered last fall, and the results were released this spring.

“There are a lot of positives, but kids are telling us they’re bored in school,” said Anne Ehresman, executive director of Project Cornerstone, about the high school results. “That breaks my heart.”

Published on The Mercury News website on 4.24.17
Written by: Sharon Noguchi

Can Patients with Eating Disorders Learn to Eat Intuitively? A 2-Year Pilot Study

Center for Change is committed to helping further research that it is essential for documenting and improving the effectiveness of eating disorder treatment programs and for increasing professionals’ understanding of these disorders. We are pleased to present the results of our 2-year pilot study that has been published in Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention.

To view the study, click here. 

To learn more about the ongoing research at Center for Change, click here.

Published on the Center for Change website on 6.1.17


We Cannot Continue to Overlook ‘High-Functioning’ Depression

I first saw a psychiatrist for my anxiety and depression as a junior in high school. During her evaluation, she asked about my classes and grades. I told her that I had a 4.0 GPA and had filled my schedule with Pre-AP and AP classes. A puzzled look crossed her face. She asked about my involvement in extracurricular activities. As I rattled off the long list of groups and organizations I was a part of, her frown creased further.

Finally, she set down her pen and looked at me, saying something along the lines of, “You seem to be pretty high-functioning, but your anxiety and depression seem pretty severe. Actually, it’s teens like you who scare me a lot.”

Now I was confused. What was scary about my condition? From the outside, I was functioning like a perfectly “normal” teenager. In fact, I was somewhat of an overachiever. I was working through my mental illnesses and succeeding, so what was the problem?

Published on The Mighty website on 5.23.16
Written by: Amanda Leventhal

My Eating Disorder Had Nothing to Do with Barbie or the Media

A lot of people with an eating disorder will find the idea that it’s caused by Barbies or supermodels insulting and patronizing. It’s a mental illness, not a bad case of vanity.

When I was ten years old, I had a Barbie doll. I had VHS copies of every Disney movie ever made, and a stack of Cosmo magazines I’d stolen from my older sister. Six years later, I had anorexia. None of these things are related.

You can hardly go online nowadays without coming across an aggressively angry article decrying something or someone for perpetuating “unrealistic body standards”—be it Topshop mannequin, a Disney character’s waistband, or, time and time again, Barbie dolls.

Paradoxically, in discussions of “unrealistic bodies,” real women get the most stick for their stick-figures, be it flat-bellied celebrities on Instagram, or, most frequently, the entire modeling industry itself.

Published on the Vice magazine website on 2.20.15
Written by: Amelia Tait

Recovery Is Possible – Michelle’s Story

This month we feature the story of Michelle, who talks about her eating disorder developing from a harmless attempt at establishing healthier dietary patterns.  It is a powerful reminder of how diets are not a good idea for anyone, but also how recovery IS possible for everyone. 

All throughout my early childhood and pre-teen years, I had a healthy relationship with food. I never counted calories, never analyzed the back of nutritional labels, and never thought twice about what I ate, food was food. It wasn’t until the beginning of my senior year in high school, about 10 years ago, when I started noticing I was gaining some weight and was not as “fit” as some of my friends. Consequently, I slowly started to become more aware of the foods I ate. I also joined a gym in hopes of becoming more toned and losing a few pounds. My new fitness journey started out healthy, within a couple of weeks I was noticing a difference and felt better. My friends were noticing too and complimenting me on my new physical changes, which boosted my motivation.

With my new “confidence” I wanted to continue my healthy lifestyle and lose a few more pounds, then I would be truly happy (so I told myself).  I began being very strict with my diet, eliminating as many “bad” foods as possible. Certain foods were no longer “allowed.” My workouts at the gym increased substantially. Without realizing it, I was putting my body into a state of starvation, and I was spiraling downwards, quickly. I became obsessed with the scale, weighing in every morning and every night, sometimes even after school to make sure I didn’t put on too much water weight. The number on the scale consumed me. I could not have a high number on the scale, it just wasn’t acceptable.

Published on the Cielo House website on 3.29.17
Written by: Michelle Reuter

Why You NEED to Practice Self-Love

February 26th through March 4th represents National Eating Disorder Awareness week. During this week, the general public will likely see articles, tweets and maybe some Facebook posts that will cause them to think for a bit about those suffering from an eating disorder. For those who do suffer however, they’d give anything not to think about their eating disorder for a week. Not to think about calories, food or exercise. Because for those suffering from an eating disorder, this is not just a week but this is all consuming. It’s what keeps you up at night, regretting what you ate that day or how you can make tomorrow “better.” It’s what drives wedges between family members and ruins the notion of a happy family meal. Social lives will be impaired as impromptu happy hours and dinners out become the causes of stress, not stress-relievers. Your relationship with exercise? It’s not a means of keeping healthy but rather, simply a method of burning calories. Eating disorders affect every aspect of an individual’s life thus deeming it impossible not to constantly think about.

Written by: Kristin Wentzel