Harsh Prognosis: Best We Can Do for Mental Illnesses is Palliative Care, For Now

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“Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.”

The new head of the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) is very bright and accomplished. All of the scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are the “best and brightest.” Around the world, some of the best doctors, scientists and researchers and public and private charitable institutions are investing massive resources in understanding the brain and how it causes behavior.  But the brain is very, very complicated. Very.

The new head of the NIMH posted a message delivering his assessment of realistic expectations for mental health treatment. It is sobering. The message is copied in full below. Highlights are in the following bullet points.  His conclusion is disappointing.  The best we can do for serious mental illness is symptom management and comforting the patients. we know more about the brain then any other time in history. We are learning more at an accelerating rate – but we don’t know enough. Not nearly enough.

In many ways, most personal, community, social, and even business, problems are behavior problems. Drug and alcohol addiction are epidemic. Violence and crime are dropping but suicide remains the main form of gun violence. We have discovered the prevalence of PTSD from endemic childhood trauma which is the biggest predictor of ALL adult illnesses. We know head trauma in sports and military activities has lifelong consequences. Neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and ADHD are much better understood to the point of potential identification in the womb – hopefully treatment as well, someday. Depression may be the most prevalent human illness but is grossly understudied and an intractable research challenge. Homelessness grows. With the population aging, Alzheimer’s and dementia will increase and even mild cognitive impairment and the deficits of normal agin will have more behavioral consequences. The list goes on.

Yet, when our hard headed new head of the NIMH finished his survey of the resources his conclusions were somber…

Source: An Experimental Therapeutic Approach to Psychosocial Interventions

By on March 20, 2017

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/messages/2017/an-experimental-therapeutic-approach-to-psychosocial-interventions.shtml

 

 

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