Tag Archives: mental illness

Bipolar disorder and depression


depression photo

Bipolar disorder and depression

Depression is one of the main reasons that clients seek me out. Unfortunately, depression is on the rise and is set to continue to increase and pervade society in the years to come. Depression is caused my many factors so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why a person may be depressed.

The obvious signs that a counsellor would look for would be whether there is a history of depression in the family as this can make depression more likely to occur. Alcohol and drug abuse is another trigger factor and of course, how long the individual has felt low and how severe their depression is. That is, how much is it interfering with their abilities to live a normal life.


Most people with bipolar depression are not helped by antidepressants. There is a risk that antidepressants can make bipolar disorder worse by triggering mania or hypomania, causing rapid cycling between mood states, or interfering with other mood stabilizing drugs.

The difference between bipolar disorder and depression

Both feature depression however, bipolar disorder is also characterized by periods of mania (known as manic depression). Mania includes:

  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Decreased need for sleep (e.g., one feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep)
  • More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
  • Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
  • Attention is easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant items
  • Increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g., engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments)


Depression is more consistent regarding mood intensity. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
  • No interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia (inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much) nearly every day
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide

Most people diagnosed with either bipolar disorder or depression generally feel better within a few months and many people can safely discontinue treatment with their doctor’s recommendation within a year. The actual length of treatment varies widely, however, based upon the severity of the disorder, the effectiveness of the treatment for that individual, and other factors.

Mandy X


Refs/Source: http://psychcentral.com/lib/whats-the-difference-between-depression-and-manic-depression/0002546

The hidden danger of the unstable mind


mind photo

The hidden danger of the unstable mind

The recent events of the Germanwings air crash in the French Alps has placed the internal world of a person back into focus. Although there is no conclusive evidence as yet, there are suggestions that the co-pilot might have been suffering from depression and this may have led to the deliberate act of crashing the plane into the mountain side with 150 people on board.

The sad reality of modern times is that mental health still does not receive the recognition and government funding that it deserves. In many parts of the world, there is still a huge stigma around admitting to having any mental disorder or some kind of inability to cope with the pressures of life. We are conditioned to smile and say that everything is fine, even when it isn’t.

Thankfully, most depressed people do not want to harm others even if they regularly think about harming themselves. As pressures seem to increase, people are more stressed and feeling isolated yet there seems to be less help available. In the UK, there is often a waiting list as long as 18 months for someone wanting to see a counsellor. This is woefully inadequate.

As adults, we have so many different roles to play and this can often hide the inner turmoil that people experience. We have to push aside our recent breakup, our huge financial debts or the fact that we have severe low self esteem and harbour irrational thinking and act the part that the role requires. Whether that’s a Doctor, a pilot or a teacher. Sadly, the world doesn’t really want to know, and in many instances…doesn’t really care.

The way forward is to speak more about how we think and what emotions we are experiencing (especially when they are negative and causing depression or anxiety). Only when we feel more comfortable at accepting, that along with our physical ailments, there will be mental aspects accompanying that too. When we break our leg, we get a plaster cast and a walking stick. When we experience mental instability in our thinking, we need to address this the same way we would a physical ‘obvious’ illness. Whether that is through regular counselling or medication.

There should be no difference between treating our minds and the rest of our bodies.

Mandy X




Mental Health, Anxiety and Capitalism

IWW poster printed 1911

IWW poster printed 1911 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest of us?

Socialism for the Rich and capitalism for the poor is a fairly self explanatory statement, under Neoliberalism businesses and companies are afforded protection and corporate benefits, whilst the rest of us are subjected to the slavery and low pay of Capitalism, in effect the rich and those who own and run big businesses are immune from the destructive qualities of capitalism, whilst we pay for all of its flaws and inadequacies.

 Add to this the astonishing fact that citizens of Selfish Capitalist, English-speaking nations (which tend to be one and the same) are twice as likely to suffer mental illness as those from mainland western Europe, which is largely Unselfish Capitalist in its political economy. An average 23% of Americans, Britons, Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians suffered in the last 12 months, but only 11.5% of Germans, Italians, French, Belgians, Spaniards and Dutch. The message could not be clearer. Selfish Capitalism, much more than genes, is extremely bad for your mental health. But why is it so toxic?

The top 1% of British earners have doubled their share of the national income since 1982, from 6.5% to 13%, FTSE 100 chief executives now earning 133 times more than the average wage (against 20 times in 1980); and under Brown’s chancellorship the richest 0.3% nobbled over half of all liquid assets (cash, instantly accessible income), increasing their share by 79%

What does the damage to mental health is the combination of inequality with the widespread relative materialism of placing a high value on money, possessions, appearances and fame when you already have enough income to meet your fundamental psychological needs. Survival materialism is healthy. If you need money for medicine or to buy a house, becoming very concerned about getting them does not make you mentally ill. Capitalism and the accompanying desire for fame and money nurtures unrealistic aspirations and a feeling of deprivation when the expectations aren’t easily met. This feeling of deprivation and constant comparison with what others have encourage mental illness. Needy, miserable people make desperate and greedy consumers that can be more easily influenced into buying what they don’t need in order to keep up with the “Joneses”.

Financial stress is brought upon us by capitalism which offers little incentive to feed hungry children, treat the sick, secure us in retirement or provide job opportunities for the middle class.

This is most damaging of all – the ideology that material affluence is the key to fulfilment and open to anyone willing to work hard enough. If you don’t succeed, there is only one person to blame – never mind that it couldn’t be clearer that it’s the system’s fault, not yours. 

Not only would reduced consumerism and greater equality make us more ecologically sustainable, it would halve the prevalence of mental illness within a generation. 

Mandy X






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