Can You Boost Your Mental Health by Keeping a Journal?

Consistently and freely writing can help you offload stress and give your brain time to heal

MOST OF US CAN LIST THE lifestyle choices that help maintain and improve mental health. Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep and staying socially active are all proven and well-known strategies. But another less-known yet equally simple act also has solid research to support its efficacy: writing.

Keeping a journal is a powerful mental health tool. At the American Psychiatric Association says: “Journaling can provide general wellness and self-improvement benefits, such as making you more self-aware, boosting creativity and helping you build better habits. Journaling can help you better understand your feelings and emotions and help you manage stress. Writing about things that have frustrated or upset you can help you to let go of some of the stress and gain perspective.”  more

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How to Know If Your Bad Mood Is Actually Depression

Four women share their depression journeys, including the specific symptoms that let them know they were dealing with a mental illness, not a rotten day.

You might know Ashley Wagner for her steely resolve on ice. The three-time U.S. national champion broke American figure skaters’ decade-long medal drought by taking silver at the 2016 world competition. But after failing to make the 2018 Olympic team, a “very severe depression” left her barely able to function day to day.

“At first I was just really disappointed in myself for letting one event in my life derail everything that I thought I knew was true about myself and how I saw my place in the world and how I felt about my own sense of worth and value,” the skater recalled in a recent Instagram video.  more

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11 Ways to Cope with Anxiety When You’re Busy

It is as much a matter of perspective as strategy.

Finding ways to cope with anxietyis as much a matter of perspective as strategy. Anxiety in and of itself doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and in fact can be a help, especially when we are busy. A powerful source of information and energy, anxiety can walk a fine line between motivating and overwhelming depending on how we choose to view it.

For those who live with anxiety on a more-than-occasional basis, choices tend to vacillate between giving into it or learning to live with it. “Perspective” can seem like a leisure activity in our fast-paced, information-packed world, rather than a line-item on a competent person’s calendar.  more

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Is Electroconvulsive Therapy a Miracle Cure for Depression?

The controversial treatment is often considered a last resort when antidepressants fail.

In 1990, life was good for Carol Kivler. At age 40, she was happily teaching business skills at a college near her home in Lawrence, New Jersey, raising three healthy tweens, and married to a loving husband. “I had a beautiful home and money in the bank,” she says.

And then, without warning or explanation, “depression brought me to my knees.”

Kivler couldn’t concentrate. She couldn’t sleep. She lost her appetite. “What do I have to be depressed about?” she kept asking herself.

Her doctor explained that a chemical imbalance in Kivler’s brain could be to blame and started her on antidepressants, cautioning that they could take up to six weeks to kick in. Kivler had only been on the medication a month before she started having psychotic symptoms.  more

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BS Podcast: Do People With Mental Illness Suffer from Trauma?

Many people don’t understand how mental illness, in and of itself, can be traumatic. Everything from the emotions, physical sensations, and even treatment – locked in a ward or a hospital, often against our will – is a recipe for trauma. While every person with mental illness is different, most people with serious and persistent mental illness describe being traumatized in addition to the impact of the illness itself.

In this episode of Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast, our hosts discuss their own traumas as they relate to living with – and getting help for – mental illness. They both recall their time receiving treatment in the psychiatric hospital and Michelle tells the story of her encounter with a police officer that ended less than ideally.  more

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Powerful essay about by being in the psych ward at age 14

Over at YR (formerly Youth Radio), Desmond Meagley wrote and illustrated a moving, sad, and ultimately hopeful personal story about being committed to the psych ward at age 14. From “5150’d: My Journey Through a Psych Ward“:

After I had a meltdown in the middle of my sixth grade class, my school gave my family an ultimatum: if I was going to be enrolled there, I also had to be in therapy. Just like that, my struggle to be heard was confined to dimly lit sessions with the school counselor and an outside therapist. I tried to be honest with them, but I was a little too young to grasp what was at the root of my mental health issues. I was also scared of what might happen if I was *too* honest.  more

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Can you really exercise away anxiety and depression?

A look at whether exercise really can make a difference with anxiety and depression, or similar mental illness diagnoses that affect one in five Americans.

On the internet, there are endless lists of the things you can do to heal yourself of any ailment: from depressionto migraines, from anxiety to irritable bowel syndrome. Apparently you can cure anything simply chant positive mantras, drink enough water to become a camel, and practice yoga 24/7…maybe even shower while standing on one’s head.

The internet would like us to believe that this is particularly true when it comes to mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard “just do X to snap out of Y,” I’d be retired, sipping umbrella drinks in Tahiti.

 

That said, there has been more than anecdotal evidence that something as simple as regular exercise cure anxiety and depression. Some experts maintain that exercise holds the potential to ease the symptoms of many illnesses, including those of the mental variety. Let’s explore whether exercise really can make a difference with anxiety and depression, or similar mental illness diagnoses that affect one in five Americans.  more
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Are Psychiatric Disorders Related to Each Other?

The current, criteria-based approach towards diagnosing psychiatric disorders evolved from research in the 1960s and early 1970s by faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. Those investigators analyzed data from clinical observations, longitudinal follow-up of patients, and family history information to define diagnostic criteria for a group of psychiatric illnesses that they believed were well validated based on several defined metrics.

Although this approach was not based on disease mechanisms, it did allow for reliable categorization of disorders—reliable meaning that different clinicians would likely agree on the same diagnosis for a given patient. Some of the illnesses included in the original 1972 publication from the Washington University group were schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressionobsessive compulsive disorder, certain anxiety disorders, anorexia nervosa, and alcohol and drug dependence.

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