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July 23, 2005
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Pilots Arrested for Disability Payments
AP Online; 7/19/2005; KIM CURTIS, Associated Press Writer
Dateline: SAN FRANCISCO
The pilots, who include commercial and transport pilots, claimed to be medically fit to fly airplanes. However, they may have been flying with debilitating illnesses that should have kept them grounded, ranging from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to drug and alcohol addiction and heart conditions, said Marlon Cobar, a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's office in Fresno.
An 18-month review of 40,000 pilots in Northern California began in July 2003 as a Homeland Security project to look into the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers.
When dozens of names turned up in both Social Security Administration and Federal Aviation Administration rolls, "they realized there was probably criminal wrongdoing _ either lying to the FAA or wrongfully receiving benefits," Cobar said.
The FAA immediately revoked 14 pilots' licenses and medical certificates, which are necessary to maintain a valid license, the U.S. attorney's office said. Others were referred for administrative revocation.
"We chose the most egregious," Cobar said Monday. "You can't really fly a plane if you're telling the Social Security Administration you have a disabling back condition or bipolar disorder."
Other pilots not yet charged were found to be lying about having illnesses in order to collect the Social Security payment, Cobar said.
FAA spokesman Donn Walker said it was unclear how many of the pilots flew for a living, but that at least a dozen of them held commercial or airline transport licenses.
Thirty pilots are charged with making false statements to a government agency, and 10 are charged with making and delivering a false official writing.
On the Net:
Copyright 2005, AP News All Rights Reserved
Former U. Texas student ready to stand trial for homicide
University Wire; 7/19/2005; Cia Patterson
(Daily Texan) (U-WIRE) AUSTIN, Texas -- Following the violent murder of University of Texas music professor Danielle Martin her former student and alleged slayer, Jackson Ngai, was deemed incompetent by psychologists for trial last July. Over a year later, Jackson has now been judged competent by North Texas State Hospital in Vernon and the trial is scheduled to commence on August 27.
NTSH says they "literally teach people" what a courtroom is and the specific circumstances of their case so they are able to provide information to the lawyers. Ngai, due to new medications and therapy after being thoroughly diagnosed, is now going to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyer, Jim Erickson, says Ngai would prefer the care of a mental health care facility for an indefinite amount of time versus taking a plea bargain and being released in as little as 10 years. Erickson added that Ngai knows he needs intensive medical care, he is horrified at what has happened and has even written some apologetic letters to friends from school.
According to NTSH officials, court competency is judged by an individual's ability to comprehend that they have committed a crime and communication with a lawyer to prepare a defense. When Ngai was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder and psychosis in 2003, he received immediate help and prescription medication on three occasions at two hospitals leading up to the murder. He stayed at hospitals twice, with his longest stay spanning a few weeks.
However, Ngai said he chose not to stay on his medications because of unpleasant side effects and paranoia of being drugged. After being kept at a mental-health-care facility for more than a year, doctors have reassessed Ngai's condition as schizophrenia and said he has finally stabilized.
NTSH spokesman Jerry McLain said community hospitals are qualified to help patients in the short term. He said community health-care facilities are necessary to help alleviate the problem of overpopulation in state hospitals. The difference between patients being able to recover at community centers versus state centers depends on the degree of help they need. Rarely, but in some cases such as Ngai's, patients do not receive the continuum of care they need in time.
"It's like a patient with pneumonia. They're sick, so they go to a doctor and get antibiotics," McLain said. "When they get home, if they become more sick, they go to a hospital where they can receive intensive care."
(C) 2005 Daily Texan via U-WIRE
First drug to tame manic depression.
The Daily Mail (London, England); 7/19/2005
Byline: PAT HAGAN
MICHAEL Grinter has suffered from manic depression, or bipolar disorder, for 17 years. In his manic periods he has spent more than [pounds sterling]40,000 on luxuries he couldn't afford, such as cars, watches and stereos.
During his lows, he's tried to kill himself.
Despite years of treatment with antidepressants, it was only when he was put on a drug called Seroquel that he began to reclaim his life.
Now, in the biggest trial of its kind, Seroquel has been found to be the first drug to control both manic and depressive episodes - offering hope to thousands of Britons affected by the condition, including celebrities such as Caroline Aherne.
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness. Patients swing from extreme depression, often involving thoughts of suicide, to a state of high excitement or mania.
Although the condition can be genetic, it is thought it could also be triggered by extreme stress.
During a manic period, the patient can become euphoric and full of energy.
They sleep less, have endless new ideas and start to feel very important.
Some lose control of everyday matters and run up debts buying things they cannot afford.
But very few will seek medical help - because they do not consider themselves ill.
The mania is punctuated by prolonged periods of deep depression, with feelings of hopelessness and a lack of energy.
One of the major problems is that because patients often seek help only when they become depressed, doctors treat them with drugs designed to lift their mood. But this can bring on the mania again. In Michael's case, doctors tried a range of drugs, but none succeeded in keeping his mania and depression at bay for long.
He took Prozac, which treated his depression but made him manic, and lithium, which kept his moods stable, but had to be taken alongside antidepressants.
'During my manic periods, I felt important and powerful,' says Michael, 42, whose depression started in 1986 when he was training to be an accountant.
'On one occasion I bought a new BMW car, a Rolex watch and an expensive hi-fi system even though I had no job and no money to pay for them.
'I went on holiday to Norway and ended up being deported because of my bizarre behaviour.
'I've lost all the friends I made at university, and my best friend of ten years decided to end the relationship during one of my manic episodes.
'I even lost my job. One day I just decided not to go back to work. I wanted to end everything because I couldn't function in the job with depression. A couple of days later I attempted to take my own life.' Then four years ago, Michael, from London, was put on a trial for Seroquel. The drug is an antipsychotic medicine already used to treat both schizophrenia and the mania experienced by sufferers of bipolar disorder.
Researchers recently decided to investigate Seroquel further after anecdotal reports from patients such as Michael who found that while it controlled their mania, they also noticed an improvement in their depression.
The active ingredient is a compound called quetiapine, which works on two particular neurotransmitters in the brain.
These two chemicals - serotonin and dopamine - are stored in nerve cells and have the job of transmitting messages between cells.
BOTH are known to be involved in controlling mood and behaviour.
For example, schizophrenia is associated with brain cells mopping up too much dopamine.
Seroquel works by blocking receptors on the surface of those cells, effectively stopping dopamine from 'docking' with them.
The drug works in a similar way in bipolar patients to dampen the excitement they feel during manic episodes.
However, researchers have now found that, unlike other medication, Seroquel doesn't push patients back into depression. Instead, it appears to keep them stable.
The study by scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S. looked at 542 patients with bipolar disorder who were treated either with Seroquel or a dummy pill for two months. Using a special scale, researchers measured improvements in depression among the volunteers.
The results, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, showed that within a week of taking Seroquel, patients' depression was easing.
After eight weeks, almost 60 per cent of those on the drug said the severity of their symptoms had at least halved.
'There was a dramatic response within eight days of beginning treatment,' said Dr Joseph Calabrese, who led the research project. 'About 50 per cent of patients responded quickly to treatment with Seroquel versus placebo.'
Michael noticed improvements within a couple of months. For the first time in years his moods were completely under control.
He has improved so much he has been able to return to work for the first time since 1990. Two years ago, he took a job with support charity the Manic Depression Fellowship.
'It's given me the chance to have a normal life for the first time in many years,' says Michael.
'There's a great deal to make up for. I've lost so much in terms of work and money - running up debts of [pounds sterling]40,000 - but now I'm rebuilding my life.' * For more information on bipolar disorder, go to www.mdf.org.uk
COPYRIGHT 2005 Solo Syndication Limited
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The Warning Signs Of An Impending Bipolar Disorder Manic Episode
Bipolar disorder - as the name implies - involves two distinct set of symptoms. One set throws the individual down into the depths of a massive depression. The other places the individual who suffers with bipolar disorder at the top of a peak manic episode.
Most everyone can eventually recognize the warning signs of an impending depressive episode related to bipolar disorder. More likely than not, individuals with bipolar disorder try very hard to avoid it.
However, for many individuals with bipolar disorder, it's more difficult to recognize the signs of an impending manic episode. After all, a manic episode of bipolar disorder can be mistaken in some cases - especially in the very early formation -- for the lifting of the corresponding mood swing of the depression.
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