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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People share what it was like to be admitted to a mental health hospital

There is still a huge stigma around mental health hospitals.
Many horror films are set within abandoned mental health hospitals, creating a common perception that they’re places of outdated, horrific treatments and people screaming in the corridors.
This isn’t reflective of reality.

30-year-old Rebecca has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital three times. The first was in June 2008, the second October 2009, and the third June 2010. All of these admissions were for anorexia.

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Laura Mazza’s frank post reveals the many faces of anxiety

“Anxiety is a serious illness and just because someone doesn’t look like the Hollywood portrayal, doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering.” #preach

Laura Mazza’s frank post reveals the many faces of anxiety

Laura Mazza doesn’t mince words. The blogger who founded Mum on the Run has written about how she wants to have an affair, about how mums need mental health days, and about her misadventures with hair removal cream.

But her frank Instagram post about the many faces of anxiety is perhaps her most refreshing revelation yet.

Laura posted two photos of herself side by side. In one she’s make-up free, looking serious and a bit stressed (but also rosy and lovely, we might add). In the other she’s smiling, head tilted, looking fabulous. One is captioned “anxious” and the other, “still anxious”.

Laura is making the point that it’s not enough to look at someone’s face to understand if they have a mental health problem. A smiling face can often mask internal turmoil.  more

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Podcast: Bizarre Questions Psychiatrists and Therapists Have Asked

There is an assumption among many Americans that doctors are pretty darn smart and always know what they’re talking about. Psychiatrists work with the mentally ill, so they are certainly smarter than their patients. Because, after all, their patients are “crazy.” Right?

In this episode, our hosts discuss all the times that psychiatrists and therapists didn’t live up to the hype – or stereotype. 

Narrator: [00:00:09] For reasons that utterly escapes Everyone involved. You’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Thank you for tuning into A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast.  more

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Why do there seem to be so many mentally ill people in French cities?

One hundred French psychiatrists have written to the health minister to highlight the problems with mental healthcare in France, with one doctor saying it is “not normal” to see so many mentally ill people on the streets.

So, why does the situation seem so bad?

It is not uncommon to see people who seem to be suffering from serious mental health issues on the streets of major cities but in Paris and other large cities in France the situation seems to be even more acute than you might expect.
A letter sent from 100 French psychiatrists to health minister Agnes Buzyn on Tuesday and revealed by Le Parisien explains why this might be the case.
According to the health professionals, patients with mental disorders, sometimes of a serious nature, are not being treated because the country’s psychiatry services are overwhelmed.   more
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She wanted to be the perfect mom — then landed in a psychiatric unit

Lisa Abramson says that even after all she’s been through — the helicopters circling her house, the snipers on the roof, and the car ride to jail — she still wants to have a second child.

That’s because right after her daughter was born in 2014 — before all that trouble began — everything felt amazing. Lisa was smitten, just like she’d imagined she would be. She’d look into her baby’s round, alert eyes and feel the adrenaline rush through her. She had so much energy. She was so excited.

“I actually was thinking like, ‘I don’t get why other moms say they’re so tired, or this is so hard. I got this,’ ” she says.   more

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