Home » Blog » Education » Adolescent Mental Health

Category: Adolescent Mental Health

Centre for Life Los Angeles Office

New Office Location in Los Angeles!

I’m excited to announce I’m joining forces with an alternative healing center called the Centre for Life, located in Los Angeles in the Marina Del Rey area.  The new office is conveniently located near West LA, Venice, Culver City, and Santa Monica just off the 90W from the 405 freeway.

The Centre was opened by homeopath Avghi Constantinides and is serviced by acupuncturists, psychiatrists, a pediatrician, naturopaths, and hypnotherapists.  To better serve my patients with a holistic approach, I’ve begun preparing for an additional board specialty in integrative medicine (American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine).  Working closely with other alternative health practitioners allows me to both  further my education and refer patients for consultation in a convenient manner.

Click here for more information on the Centre for Life.

Centre for Life Los Angeles Office
Centre for Life building

New Services: Along with micronutrient testing, I’ll now be offering neurotransmitter testing, food and chemical sensitivity testing, and hormonal and metabolic panels.  These tests help individualize supplement regimens, optimize treatment, and minimize psychotropic medication use. 

overstimulated brain

Computer, Video Games and Psychosis: Cause for Concern

overstimulated brain“I hear voices at night, and sometimes I think someone’s outside my window,” the 19-year-old young man informed me.  “I know no one’s really there, but it’s still scary.”

In my practice in the past six months, no less than 5 youths have reported psychotic symptoms that were attributed to, or exacerbated by, electronic screens.    As per my protocol, I always get an “e-screen” history:

  • video games
  • computer/internet use
  • cell phone use (talking, texting, streaming, and internet).

Not surprisingly, all five of these patients, ranging from 15-22 years old, were “plugged in” for six or more hours each day.  Three were female and two male.  After discussing e-screens’ toxic influence on the brain, I recommended to each of these patients that they forego all electronic screens for at least 4 weeks.

The three females all decided to go “cold turkey ” and gave up their games, laptops, and phones.  All three saw their symptoms resolve completely within a month.  Of the two males, one cut down use significantly and his hallucinations disappeared; his paranoia remained but was less severe and caused less dysfunction.   The other male turned out to be severely addicted to the internet and video games and flat out refused to change his habits at all (a subject for another article entirely!  Needless to say he continues to suffer from psychosis).

Importantly, the therapeutic effects were achieved without using medication! This is a big deal, because medications used to treat psychotic symptoms are heavy duty, and have serious side effects, such as weight gain, hormone dysfunction, and movement disorders.

Electronic screens, particularly interactive ones (as opposed to passive ones, like television), increase dopamine in the reward center of the brain.  This effect has been demonstrated by brain scan (Koepp, 1998: http://www.nrc-iol.org/cores/mialab/fijc/Files/2002/120402_Koepp_Nature_1998.pdfDopamine is the “feel good” chemical, but is also related to stress, addiction, anxiety, mood, and attention.   Perhaps more disturbing, dopamine excess in certain parts of the brain can lead to psychotic symptoms-voices, delusions, paranoia, or confusion.

Psychosis is defined by abnormal thinking. This can involve thought content, such as hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia, or thought process (highly disorganized thinking, or feeling thoughts are “blocked”).   It is typically attributed to the severely mentally ill, like schizophrenics, but can also be seen in “normal” people under extreme stress.  Children in particular are more likely to hallucinate when traumatized, sleep-deprived, or over-stimulated.   E-screens cause or mimic all three of these states!

Take home point: Children, teens, and young adults who have unexplained hallucinations or delusions should have ALL electronic screens removed for at least 3 weeks, as part of the diagnostic process.  This includes cell phones, as texting, media viewing, and internet use can quickly rack up hours.  Virtually all teens and many young adults do not yet have the impulse control to moderate their own usage, and this is why the parent must physically remove these devices. While this may seem extreme, drastic times cause for drastic measures.   Psychosis–and treatment thereof–is serious and has long-lasting effects.

As psychiatric disorders in young people continue to explode, and evidence mounts about the toxic effects of e-screens on the developing brain, parents and clinicians would be prudent to remove this offending environmental trigger from the child’s life, as part of the diagnosis and as one “arm” of the treatment plan.

When you start to feel conflicted about removing screens-they are so ingrained in our lives, after all-this is what I tell my patients and their parents: “You will never regret removing video games and computer use, but you may sorely regret leaving them in place. “

For more information on video games and a FREE mini course, visit www.drdunckley.com/videogames or fill in the form below:

holiday gift

Mental Health Holiday Challenge: No Video Game Gifts

Try going "old school" this holiday season with no electronics or video games...it may help when your child starts school in January!

Read more

boy playing video game

Video Games and other Devices…They’re Worse Than You Think!!

Do you have an uneasy feeling that playing video games is bad for your child's brain? It's worse than you think! Check out this post on Dr Dunckley's FREE Save Your Child's Brain minicourse, and take the first step to getting your child back on track.

Read more

Girl getting bullied at school

Prevent Bullying presentation by Tourette Syndrome Association

Here’s an excellent presentation by Julie Hertzog, director of the Bullying Prevention Project.  There are links to both a slide show and an audio MP3 version.  Included is a much-needed discussion on what bystanders can do to help diffuse bullying situations.

Tourette Syndrome Audio Conference.

Are you a mother of an autistic child and currently pregnant? Univ of Oregon seeks subjects for Vitamin D supplementation study

Study seeks participants for vitamin D study in pregnant mothers with autistic children.

Read more