Bipolar

Bipolar Disorder & Violence: Is There a Relationship?

As long-time World of Psychology readers already know, a researcher has a lot of latitude in how they design a study to "encourage" a predetermined outcome. Researchers generally don't recognize this as an inherent bias problem, because virtually all researchers do it to one degree or another (or have done it at one time or another in their career).

The relationship between mental illness and violence is one area of contention among researchers, with most research showing only the smallest of correlations between the two. The real risk factor for violence remains -- and has always been -- substance abuse, not mental illness.

Recently it was suggested that those with bipolar disorder are at greater risk for committing violence. So we took a look at some of the research to see how good the studies are that suggest such a connection.

Continue Reading

Anger

Past Tense

I stop: a droll smile and infectious cackle singe my synapses. I feel good. Like endorphins-are-murmuring good.

Maybe it is a sun-baked trip to the beach, the well-received Psych Central articles, or heartfelt conversations with my aunts and uncles. Or maybe it is learning to accept past failures for what they are: character lessons, not character flaws. The past can be a vengeful lover; she will terrorize you if you allow her to.

Continue Reading

Children and Teens

Helping Adult Children of Mentally Ill Mothers

I’m not a psychotherapist. But I’ve sat in front of one. It took me decades to find the chair in front of the psychotherapist and maybe that’s got something to do with me being the adult child of a schizophrenic mother.

I think it took me a long time to sit facing a psychotherapist because adult children of seriously mentally ill mothers are trained since they were young to believe three things:

Chaos and crises are normal.
The focus is not on me. The focus of care is on my mother.
Don’t speak too much about what goes on at home -- people don’t like it, it’s too much for them.

Continue Reading

Depression

5 Ways to Grow Together When Depression Enters a Relationship


No one teaches us how to navigate a relationship when mental illness enters the equation.

I recently read a Washington Post article by a woman whose relationship was torn apart while she and her partner tried to deal with his depression.

My personal take is that the author simply wasn't equipped to deal with a partner coping with depression. Most of us aren’t.

Last year when I plunged into a depressive episode, my partner was at a loss. He had never dealt with this and wanted so badly to help, but had no idea what to do.
Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

A Painful Appreciation

Give thanks for the soul-crushing anxiety. Say amen when the sinking depression floors you. Raise your glass for repetitive negative thoughts.

“What?” you screech. “My mind teases me, toying with my emotions for sheer pleasure. And you -- you of all people -- are saluting my mental brain tricks. Are you happy when my mind twists me into a human pretzel?”

Hardly. I do not take perverse pleasure in another person’s suffering. But as your taunting mind ridicules you, let’s express gratitude. Before spewing invective in a berating email, hear me out.
Continue Reading

Bipolar

Bipolar Disorder: A Patient’s Definition

When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003, I knew exactly one thing about it: Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, had it. And he died by suicide in 1994. As a Nirvana fan, I paid attention to the news about his life -- and death -- but, with the exception of repeating the diagnosis over and over again, little information about bipolar disorder itself was reported.

Essentially, I knew that a famous millionaire couldn’t beat it. I also knew it was a mental illness, which meant I was broken -- so broken that I could no longer participate in society. Some of my earliest thoughts immediately after being diagnosed revolved around selling my house, quitting my job, and moving into a group home -- things I never needed to do, but simply assumed I would have to.
Continue Reading

Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

A Recipe for Recovery: Ingredients for Good Mental Health


I believe mental health self-care starts with the right medication. The right medications are crucial for recovery. Personally, I have realized finding the right combination of drugs really makes the difference between being well or unwell.

Medications, while imperfect, are the leading treatment for mental illness and could make the difference between being high-functioning or going through a lot of pain. There are a few principles that help when choosing to take medication. Do not go off prescribed medication without consulting your doctor. Psychotropic medications are powerful, with serious side effects. Withdrawal can cause, at the very least, a flare in mental health symptoms.

Secondly, when making medication changes, work with a doctor, do it slowly and pay attention to the warning signs of relapse. Third of all, do research on medications. Know the side effects, in particular how to detect them and how to reduce them. 
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

5 Tips to Stop Panic Attacks in Their Tracks


Quiet your mind, calm your heart... and reclaim your life.

You wake up one morning, happy that your life is finally on track. After enduring one painful break up after another, you’re finally free of deadbeat guys and loser relationships.

Months of fighting and bickering are finally over, and for the first time in a long time, you’re elated — comfortable in your own surroundings and not carrying the dead weight of a man who could never be your one and only.

But even under the veil of turning lemons into lemonade, something isn’t right.

Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

Calling All Perfectionists

In my obsession with perfection, I forgot a valuable life lesson: pretty good can be perfection too.

Adventurous and fun-loving and driven and studious, I have sought it all. The dreamy vacation, the fulfilling career, the steamy romance. But the mind has always craved more.

Growing up, I would spend hours poring over an essay. I rehearsed clever rejoinders before dates. I would analyze events from 2002. I am laughing and cringing at these memories.

I was comfortable in my skin as long as I met my own exacting standards.
Continue Reading

Bipolar

The Life-Saving Power of Purpose

Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Two years ago I tested that theory.

I’ve always been depressed. I must have emerged from my mother’s womb with an overactive amygdala and a deficient prefrontal cortex -- creative brain wiring that generates panic and sadness. I was almost hospitalized in the fourth grade because I simply could not stop crying.

However, since December of 2008, when the market crashed, I hadn’t been able to surface into the land of the living and do things like pick up the kids from school and be at places like swim practice without hearing constant
Continue Reading