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.

Treatment:

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

References:

http://www.permanentculturenow.com/socialism-for-the-rich-and-capitalism-for-the-poor/

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/jan/03/comment.mentalhealth

http://www.alternet.org/economy/4-creeping-ways-capitalism-killing-us

www.selfishcapitalist.com

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Mental Health and Violence

 

Violence and mental health

Violence and mental health

 

Mental Health and Violence

There is widespread public fear that people with mental disorder pose a significant risk of interpersonal violence, but research has shown that the degree of association between violence and mental disorder is small and is accounted for by a small minority of patients.

• People with severe mental illness are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violence. In one study 16% of people with psychosis living in the community had been violently victimised.
• A third of people who committed homicide had a lifetime history of mental disorder, but in most cases this was not a severe mental illness. Most had not attended psychiatric services, and only 10% had symptoms of mental illness at the time of the offence. The most common diagnoses were personality disorder, and alcohol and drug dependence. 90% of the perpetrators
were male.
• 5% of all perpetrators of homicide in England and Wales, and 2% in Scotland, had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. 9% of people convicted of homicide had a diagnosis of personality disorder.
• 7% of people convicted of homicide in England and Wales, and 6% in Scotland, were committed to a psychiatric hospital.
• Mentally ill perpetrators were less likely to kill a stranger than those without mental illness.The majority of violent crimes and homicides are committed by people who do not have mental health problems. In fact, 95 per cent of homicides are committed by people who have not been diagnosed with a mental health problem

Unless drugs or alcohol are involved, people with mental disorders do not pose any more threat to the community than anyone else. This finding cannot be emphasised enough.

A good predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. If the person has acted violently toward you in the past, they are likely to do so again in the future, regardless of their mental health status.

It’s time that, as a society to knock down stereotypes and start breaking down the stigma associated with mental disorders. The first stereotype to go down — permanently, we hope — is that people who suffer from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, an eating disorder, or any other type of mental disorder, are somehow more violent than others. This simply isn’t true, unless they are involved in substance abuse there is little correlation between mental health and violence. Use and abuse of substances such as drugs or alcohol is often correlated with an increase in violence anyway (e.g., due to impaired judgment).

Violence is most often a criminal activity which has little correlation with a person’s mental health. Most people who suffer from a mental disorder are not violent — there is no need to fear them. Embrace them for who they are — normal human beings experiencing a difficult time, who are probably scared and feel alone. Who need your open mind, caring attitude, and helpful support.

Mandy X

References:

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/news-media/media-advisory-service/help-journalists/violence-mental-health-problems

Source: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/content/assets/PDF/publications/fundamental_facts_2007.pdf?view=Standard

http://psychcentral.com/archives/violence.htm

What causes mental illness?

 

Mental illness

Mental illness


How common are mental illnesses in the UK?

  • Anxiety will affect 10% of the population
  • Bipolar disorder will affect one in 100
  • One in every 150 15-year-old girls will get anorexia, and one in every 1000 15-year-old boys
  • 20% of people will become depressed at some point in their lives
  • OCD will affect 2%
  • Personality disorder will affect one in 10, though for some it won’t be severe
  • Schizophrenia will affect one in 100

Source: Royal College of Psychiatrists

The exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known but a combination of physical, psychological and environmental factors are thought to play a role.

Many mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder can run in families, which suggests a genetic link. Experts believe many mental illnesses are linked to abnormalities in several genes that predispose people to problems, but don’t on their own directly cause them. So a person can inherit a susceptibility to a condition but may not go on to develop it.

Psychological risk factors that make a person more vulnerable include suffering, neglect, loss of a parent, or experiencing abuse.

Difficult life events can then trigger a mental illness in a person who is susceptible. These stressors include illness, divorce, death of a loved one, losing a job, substance abuse, social expectations and a dysfunctional family life.

When is someone thought to be mentally ill?

A mental illness can not be ‘tested’ by checking blood or body fluids. Instead it is diagnosed, usually by an experienced psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, after studying a patient’s symptoms and monitoring them over a period of time.


How ICD-10 classifies bipolar affective disorder:

‘A disorder characterized by two or more episodes in which the patient’s mood and activity levels are significantly disturbed, this disturbance consisting on some occasions of an elevation of mood and increased energy and activity (hypomania or mania) and on others of a lowering of mood and decreased energy and activity (depression). ‘

Many different mental illnesses can have overlapping symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell the conditions apart.

To diagnose a mental health condition, psychiatrists in the UK may refer to the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) system. This lists known mental health problems and their symptoms under various sub-categories. It is updated around every 15 years.

Some experts argue that the current system relies too strongly on medical approaches for mental health problems. They say it implies the roots of emotional distress are simply in brain abnormalities and underplay the social and psychological causes of distress.

They argue that this leads to a reliance on anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs despite known significant side-effects and poor evidence of their effectiveness.

New research provides the strongest evidence to date that psychopathy is linked to specific structural abnormalities in the brain. The study, led by researchers at King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) is the first to confirm that psychopathy is a distinct neuro-developmental sub-group of anti-social personality disorder (ASPD).

 

It seems that there is still a lot of disagreement between the causes of mental illness and a holistic approach, along with informing yourself as much as possible is the safest way to proceed.

Mandy X

 

 

 

Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/0/22028518

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/iop/news/records/2012/May/The-antisocial-brain.aspx