Mental health services treat Alzheimer’s Disease with antidepressants, but a recent study shows that depression is eased just as effectively with a sugar pill. The use of Zoloft and Remeron resulted in severe side effects. This mental health services study, published in July of 2011 involved 326 patients, larger than all former studies on this area combined.

For those taking the antidepressants, uncomfortable side effects were the order of the day. About one fourth of the placebo group had nausea or drowsiness in this study, but closer to half of all those taking antidepressants suffered side effects, some of them severe,

Typical of mental health services, discovering the cause of dementia takes second place to the treatment of its symptoms. This treatment involves dangerous and of course, expensive drugs. Does Alzheimer’s and dementia have a physical cause? Recently an interesting study focused on blue green algae as a likely culprit for a severe neurodegenerative disease suffered by some Guam islanders.

This study, understandingly, has gripped the attention of the Scientific Community. First noted after WWll, the Chamorro people of Guam suffered a range of symptoms resembling Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and a dementia similar to Alzheimer’s. One quarter of adult Chamorros were killed by it.

The damage to the brain is similar to that of Alzheimer’s sufferers. It was discovered that the islanders consume bats that feast on the fruit of native cycad plants, as part of a traditional diet. (These plants look similar to ferns or palms) The cycad fruit is rich in L-β-Methylaminoalanine (L-BMAA) is a neurotoxic non-protein amino acid that is produced by cyanobacteria, a blue-green algae that is common to many lakes, oceans, and soils . When the bats are eaten by the islanders, a concentrated dose of the toxic substance is ingested. Over a long period of time, neurological symptoms may manifest.

Is L-BMAA found in the brains of Alzheimer sufferers who have never been exposed to this Guam delicacy? In a Canadian study, L-BMAA was found in the brains of Canadian victims of Alzheimer’s disease.

Further tests and studies are required before a conclusion can be drawn that L-BMAA has caused the neurological damage to the Guam natives, let alone to other Alzheimer and dementia sufferers. But finding it in the brain of non-Guam native victims may be a sign of this toxin originating elsewhere. And many concerned scientists feel that monitoring L-BMAA concentrations in drinking water is desirable, noting that fish and animals could ingest the microbes, allowing them to enter the food chain.

True, further studies must be conducted. The jury is not yet out on L-BMAA being the root cause of the Guam islander’s neurological disorder.

However, perhaps those in the Mental Health Services industry should bow to the studies performed by actual scientists. After all, deciphering the causes of mental diseases should be done by those able to utilize the Scientific Method, not by those who “vote” for mental illness by a show of hands, as psychiatrists readying the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) for publication were proven to do.