17/04/2016 - By Robin Lawrence

There has been a recent research paper published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in which a novel treatment has resulted in 66% percent response rate in serious, treatment resistant depression.

This should bring fresh hope to the many patients who are burdened down with depression and can see no hope. The research needs to be repeated by another independent team to confirm (or refute) the findings, but these results are striking. The medication is used regularly for a different condition but does not have a licence for the treatment of depression in the UK. That does not mean that it cannot be prescribed and used with informed consent by a specialist in the field. Please contact 96 Harley Street on 02074860506 if you wish to have an assessment?

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03/09/2015 - By Jacqui Hogan

In case you hadn't noticed, there's a revolution going on. The rise of the machines, you might call it, or perhaps technology on steroids.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the brave new world of healthcare, where technology-enabled clothing and accessories can monitor your heart rate, contact lenses can detect blood sugar for diabetics and robotic walking devices are just a tip-toe away from changing the lives of wheelchair users.

Recent research published in The Journal of Medical Research suggests that depression may soon be in on the act, with an app that gathers data from sufferers' smartphones.

Forty participants were asked to complete an online health questionnaire, specifically designed to probe for symptoms of depression. They were then monitored over the course of two weeks, with the so-called 'Purple Robot' app gathering data on their phone usage and geographical location.

The results showed that those participants with symptoms of depression used their smartphone three times more often (an average of 68 minutes per day) than those who did not have depressive symptoms (an average of 17 minutes).

Furthermore, participants with depressive symptoms travelled to fewer locations than those without symptoms. Senior author, David Mohr, PhD, observed that 'when people are depressed, they tend to withdraw and don't have have the energy or motivation to go out and do things'. Commenting on the findings he also said:
"[This] information could ultimately be used to monitor people who are at risk of depression, and to perhaps offer them interventions... or to deliver the information to their clinicians."
So let's get this straight. What's being suggested here is to track the movements and phone calls of those at risk of depression, then submit their data to a third party, who (or which - don't discount a computer interface) would then presumably verify a diagnosis and trigger treatment.

If you didn't have depression to start with, odds are you would wind up with it, or, at the very least, a heightened sense of (justified) paranoia.

Though reliable figures for the incidence of depression are hard to come by, with anything between 1 in 4 and 1 in 10 in Western countries afflicted, the scope for mass surveillance with a system like this would be irresistible to those in big government. Expect to see more funding making its way into research like this.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think that depression, which can be difficult to diagnose and treat, and as individual as the experience, circumstances and temperament of the sufferer, requires a slightly lighter touch than this. Happily, it is impossible to reduce the spiritual to data points and app-fodder.

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13/07/2015 - By Robin Lawrence

Most people, if you ask them, will tell you that a psychopath is someone at the extreme end of the mental health spectrum. Which is true, but we tend to assume they are easily identifiable by the crimes they commit (most notoriously, murder).

Most people, if you ask them, will tell you that a psychopath is someone at the extreme end of the mental health spectrum. Which is true, but we tend to assume they are easily identifiable by the crimes they commit (most notoriously, murder).

Many who commit murder are indeed psychopathic, but the number of people who express superficial charm, lie, lack empathy and feel emotion only at surface level (thereby placing them on the diagnostic spectrum) may be greater than you think.

Professor Robert Hare, a Canadian criminal psychologist and the creator of a psychological assessment used to diagnose psychopathy, is one man who probably understands better than most the nature and true incidence of the disorder at large. He has studied and worked with psychopaths, in prisons and elsewhere, over a long career. He says of his experience:

"It stuns me, as much as it did when I started 40 years ago, that it is possible to have people who are so emotionally disconnected that they can function as if other people are objects to be manipulated and destroyed without any concern."

Hare is test covers 20 criteria, each of which is given a score of 0 (psychopathy absent), 1 (psychopathy partially present) or 2 (psychopathy fully present). Scores over 30 represent "red alert" and anything under 5 "breathe a sigh of relief". They are, in no particular order:

- Glibness and superficial charm
- Over-inflated sense of self-worth
- Lying
- Cunning and manipulation
- Lacking remorse
- Emotional shallowness
- Lack of empathy
- Unwillingness to accept responsibility for actions
- Tendency to boredom
- Parasitic lifestyle
- Lack of realistic long-term goals
- Impulsivity
- Irresponsibility
- Lack of behavioural control
- Behavioural problems in early life
- Juvenile delinquency
- Criminal versatility
- History of broken parole
- Multiple marriages
- Promiscuous sexual behaviour

Recognise anyone you know?

Hare has been quoted as saying that 1% of the general population can be categorised as psychopathic and that prevalence in the financial services is 10%. While this latter figure has been disputed (and it would be, given that the financial services run the media) the good professor may not be too far off the mark. Personally, I think it sounds a bit low.

We should not be so surprised. Troubling research reported by Forbes showed that 3% of those assessed on a management development programme scored highly for psychopathy - well above the number for the general population. Prison populations weigh in at 15%.

Practically, it is worth remembering the reality and the scale of the problem, for those (hopefully) rare occasions when we ask of ourselves is it me who has gone mad or X?

For more insight on the subject, with specific reference to the workplace, check out Snakes in suits: when psychopaths go to work, published in 2006 by Paul Babiak and Robert Hare.

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