What Happens When You Mention Suicide in Therapy?

Mental health clinicians are trained to navigate discussions about self-harm.

The first time John came to my office for treatment, I asked him many questions about his background, his symptoms, his strengths, and his goals. And then I came to a standard question about suicide: “Have you been thinking you’d be better off dead or wishing you were dead?”

John hesitated, then replied, “No . . . Not really.”

“Not really?” I asked, sensing there was more to be said.

John looked away and sighed. He then explained that at his lowest points, he sometimes feels like maybe it’d be better if he were dead, and at times, he had wished he could go to sleep and never wake up. I spent some time assessing how serious the risk was that John might end his own life, and concluded that the risk was low. We made a plan for how John and I would monitor and manage his thoughts of suicide.  more

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Being Adopted Adds An Extra Layer To My Anxiety

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Following a long, harrowing job search after losing an even more soul-crushing job, I had finally landed my dream position. Yet, any time I saw co-workers having a conversation I wasn’t involved in, I was convinced it was about how they didn’t like my work, and I would lose my job again. I knew it was time to head back to therapy to address these irrational thoughts before they got out of hand, and I scored off the charts for GAD.

Like many others who receive unexpected mental health diagnoses, I wondered: am I “weak” — though, as I’ve learned, there’s nothing “weak” about needing support for mental illness — or is it just my genetic lottery? But as someone who’s adopted, I didn’t know “where” my mental health condition came from — or what may surface later in life.  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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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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Veteran Traumas and how best to Help

After applying for DD214 online and receiving the document, it could be easy to think that the veteran has left everything to do with their service behind.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Many veterans suffer with mental illness after returning from duty and this affects everyone, including the service members and their families.

It is entirely possible that some people may not experience some of these symptoms until a few years after leaving the armed forces. They may also delay seeking help for several reasons, such as thinking that they can cope, fear of criticism or feeling that therapists will not understand.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is perhaps the most infamous mental health problem veterans face after returning from duty.  more

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The unexpected thing my psychiatrist did for my anxiety

During any given week I answer the phone no more than once — and I never make calls. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have this suffocating “phone anxiety” issue. It’s one of the more problematic ways my anxiety manifests itself, because phones are just an unavoidable part of life. Thankfully, most people are content with text messaging and email.

Still, some doctors are just stubborn, and they like their phones. But if I receive a call from my doctor’s office after 5 p.m., I know it is actually him calling — and I (try to) answer. That’s the only time though. Otherwise, it goes to voicemail — which I may or may not check.

During a particularly severe episode with depression (and suicidal thoughts), my psychiatrist asked, for at least the seventh time in a year, “What would it take to get you to see a therapist?” I laughed, because the question had become somewhat rhetorical.  more

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Against Their Will: Locked away in a mental hospital after voluntarily seeking help

An 11-year-old boy was locked in a mental hospital for a week after his mother took him there voluntarily seeking help. He’s not alone.

A note to viewers & readers

The accounts of people shared here should not dissuade individuals from getting mental health help. But, too often, experts say that for-profit, private facilities do not choose the “least restrictive appropriate setting” for therapy, as mandated by current law, and instead default to locking up people in more expensive inpatient care when it’s not necessary.
You can get help without getting locked up. Do your homework, and know your rights.

Imagine walking into a mental health facility voluntarily because you want help.

Then, the door locks behind you. You’re told you can’t leave. Stripped of your clothes, given a new bed. You have no idea when you’ll see your family again.

Now imagine you are 11 years old.  more

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The Many Heath and Sleep Benefits Of Music

Music is an incredible tool for emotional health, daily performance, and sleep.

Music is a regular fixture in my daily life. I listen to music to keep me motivated while I exercise, to relax and distract me when I travel, and for a quick creativity boost when I’m writing. My family—especially my kids—have music playing around the house all the time. I also use relaxing music to unwind before bed. Music is an especially effective part of my own Power Down Hour on nights when my brain is wired or I’m feeling tense.

Music is an incredibly therapeutic tool for emotional health, daily performance, and sleep. It has been used as a healing therapy for most of human history. Ancient Arabic cultures had musicians working alongside physicians. The Greeks used music to treat mental illness. After WWII, musicians were brought to US hospitals to aid the healing of soldiers’ physical and emotional trauma.  more

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Tech firms enter the business of campus mental health care

At many college counseling centers therapists are overwhelmed and students are forced to wait weeks for an appointment, even as more of them seek help for anxiety, depression, and sleep and eating disorders.

Christie Campus Health, a Lexington start-up that will be launched Wednesday, thinks it has a solution: technology.

Christie, an arm of the Mary Christie Foundation, plans to partner with colleges and universities to handle the overflow of short-term counseling needs, using a network of therapists who are available online or over the phone.  more

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How pets improve mental health issues, from depression to PTSD

Cuddle power should not be underestimated: a growing raft of studies shows that furry friends can help people experiencing a host of issues

The comforting padding of feet across the otherwise silent house, the welcoming nudge of wet nose on arm and the soothing sense of unconditional love can make lives tainted by mental health more bearable.

Formerly love-deprived Nell, my rescue spaniel, loves her cuddles, and she “asks” for them on a daily basis. The strength of her unconditional and innocent sense of love is palpable and we both derive comfort and a sense of calm from that closeness.

Just by stroking, sitting next to or playing with a pet can help to relax and calm someone with a mental health condition. Dogs especially will encourage their owner to seek exercise and thereby meet other dog-walkers, creating vital social connections. A growing raft of studies has shown that pets can help with numerous issues linked to mental health from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to addictions, stress and feelings of loneliness.   more

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