Live from the APA: 30-Minute Speed Blog

John McManamy Health Guide
  • I'm in the press room at the Convention Center at the American Psychiatric Annual Meeting in San Diego. It's just past 8 in the morning, and in 30 minutes I'm off to listen to a leading brain scientist expound on the fine points of glutamate, then another leading brain scientist elaborate on everything you wanted to know about neurogenesis but were afraid to ask.


    Trust me, this is exciting stuff.


    Yesterday afternoon I heard four experts talk about the categorical vs dimensional aspects of psychosis.


    Actually, the big news out of the conference is from sessions I did not attend, namely:

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    Finally, psychiatrists are waking up to the fact that antipsychotics may get you worse. Ever since I started writing about my illness, I have always maintained that onerous side effects are not a fair trade-off for a reduction in mood symptoms. With some antipsychotics, the metabolic side effects set one up for huge weight gain and diabetes.


    I have been reporting on this ever since I started writing about my illness, as well. A few years ago, the FDA ordered the drug companies to start putting appropriate warnings on their labeling.


    Finally, psychiatrists are either getting the message or are actually reading the labels of the drugs they prescribe.


    Do not interpret any of this as the okay to go off your antipsychotic. Often, we can manage the potential weight gain effects by making smart diet choices. But if you suddenly put on ten pounds while on one of these meds, it's time to talk to your psychiatrist about a meds switch right now. If he or she refuses to listen, it's time to find one who does.


    More on this in future blogs.


    Last night, I also had a chance to listen to John Nash, on whose life the book and movie, "A Beautiful Mind," is based. He was speaking at an APA awards convocation. He didn't not speak so much as read off a densely-typed script, much of it academic jargon.


    But, hey, no one complains if the Dalai Lama shows up without his interpreter. My heart literally swelled when a whole vast ballroom of psychiatrists stood up and thunderously cheered as he was introduced.


    Significantly, John Nash mentioned that his recovery began when his reputation finally started catching up with the acclaim he felt he deserved.


    This resonated with me bigtime. What helped me get me through a devastating marriage breakup five months ago was news that I am to be the recipient of a major international public service award. (In two or three weeks, I will be free to go public with the announcement.) Recognition really helps. I'm no John Nash, but I know where he's coming from.


    This is John McManamy, "live" from the APA annual meeting ....

Published On: May 22, 2007