Psychiatry | St. Louis Public Radio

Psychiatry

December 19, 2019 Kris Dadant, Dr. Katie Plax, John Amman
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

An estimated 30% of Missouri youth in foster care or group homes are on psychotropic drugs of some sort — nearly twice the national average for kids that age. Many are on multiple drugs. And powerful anti-psychotic drugs have been used to treat conditions like ADHD and conduct disorders, even though the Federal Drug Administration hasn’t approved them for that use.

Two years ago, a class action lawsuit aimed to change the way Missouri foster kids are medicated. Filed by the St. Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics in conjunction with nonprofit children’s advocacy groups and the Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firm, the suit charged that anti-psychotic medications were being overprescribed, wrongly used and badly monitored. 

EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

In 2009, New York Post reporter Susannah Cahalan suddenly experienced hallucinations, paranoia, seizures and catatonia. She was misdiagnosed for a month before she was finally treated for a rare autoimmune disease that can attack the brain, anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.

Cahalan has little recollection of this time in her life, but she investigated her experience and published the details in her 2012 book, “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness.”

Kids sitting on the floor in a classroom
Phil Roeder | Flickr

Two national child advocacy organizations have filed a federal lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Social Services, alleging that children in the state’s foster care system are over-prescribed psychotropic medications with little oversight.

“They’re prescribed off-label, to control behaviors,” said Bill Grimm, an attorney for the National Center for Youth Law, which filed the lawsuit on Monday. “While many other states have instituted some sort of oversight … Missouri has very little to none of those safeguards in place.”

The suit seeks class action status. State officials declined comment, citing pending litigation.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

A St. Louis neurosurgeon is helping to pioneer a new treatment for severe obsessive compulsive disorder that involves implanting a device sometimes called a “brain pacemaker.”  

At first, deep brain stimulation sounds like something out of an Isaac Asimov novel. Through a hole in the skull the size of a dime, surgeons place electrodes in a patient’s brain. Wires under the skin connect the electrodes to a device similar to a cardiac pacemaker, which is implanted under the patient’s clavicle.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

BJC HealthCare took over operations of a 25-bed, psychiatric acute-care hospital near the West End neighborhood in St. Louis on Wednesday. BJC officials said the move was necessary because the psychiatric hospital was financially unstable.

(via Flickr/kennedy22)

Clinical depression is called the world’s number one mental disorder and ranks only behind heart disease as the country’s most disabling condition.  It is also dangerous because it can all too often lead to suicide.  Andrew and Barbara Taylor and the Crawford Taylor Foundation have committed $20 million to Washington University to fund research on mental illness, with a sharp focus on depression.

Wash U. Gets $20M For Psychiatric Research

Oct 8, 2012
Washington University School of Medicine

Washington University School of Medicine has received a $20 million donation to establish a new center for psychiatric research.

The Taylor Family Institute for Innovative Psychiatric Research will focus on developing new and more effective therapies for psychiatric disorders. Researchers will start by studying neurosteroids, chemicals in the brain that help regulate thinking and emotion. Changes in levels of neurosteroids can be linked to mood disorders, chronic pain, epilepsy, or Alzheimer’s disease.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 25, 2010 - The Missouri Department of Mental Health is asking local groups to help figure out ways to find services for patients who no longer will get acute or emergency treatment at the Metropolitan St. Louis Psychiatric Center, 5351 Delmar Blvd.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 7, 2008 - Psychiatrists are engaging in less psychotherapy than they once did and may be more likely to specialize in drug therapy, according to a report in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. The trend may be explained by several factors including financial incentives to focus on other aspects of care, fewer psychiatrists being trained in -- or specializing in -- psychotherapy, and the wider range of medications now available to clinicians.