Psychiatry Articles

Why Doesn’t Kaiser Care About Californians’ Mental Health?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Why Doesn't Kaiser Care About Californians' Mental Health?I’m not sure why, but the healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente appears not to care about the people whose lives it covers in California. That’s the only thing that could logically explain why it has continually failed to fund and staff its mental health services in the state to the level necessary to provide timely and adequate care to its residents.

Kaiser failed so badly to provide this bare minimum care that the state ended up fining it $4 million for systematically putting revenues before the care of its customers who have mental health needs.

In any other system, when a company so poorly fails to live up to its responsibilities, that company would be fired. But in the wonderful U.S. mental health system, Kaiser is given chance after chance to do the right thing. So do they?

The Hyperbole of Blood Tests & Biomarkers for Depression

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

The Hyperbole of Blood Tests & Biomarkers for DepressionMainstream media love to highlight anytime a researcher suggests we’re on the cusp of developing a blood test, saliva test, or brain scan to “properly” diagnose depression. This is seemingly driven by a never-ending belief that the only way to legitimize mental illness is if we create a medical lab test for it. Nevermind the fact that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of medical diseases that have no single lab test to diagnose them.

Somehow, an MRI will magically make depression acceptable to society. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The latest twist on these tests is a biomarker or blood test that will let us know which treatments may work best for depression. Naturally, such tests raise as many questions as they may answer — and make the process of getting an accurate diagnosis for depression vastly more expensive and complicated.

Coming to Terms with Your Delusions

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Coming to Terms With Your DelusionsI’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought some pretty outrageous things in the course of my illness. I’d also be lying if I said I don’t think about outrageous things still. Even with a good amount of stability, delusions can still persist.

Sometimes it’s about what people think of you, maybe just an offhand notion. Other times it can be so bad that you think you’re a king or a prophet or Jesus Christ himself. I’ve seen every part of the spectrum.

Nine years on, I still deal with whether people are making fun of me. This is a delusion which, no matter what I’ve tried, I can’t stop.

Dealing with the Side Effects

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Dealing with The Side-EffectsHaving lived with schizophrenia for almost nine years I’m no stranger to the myriad things that can happen when you’re on a course of antipsychotic medication.

Many times these side effects can be disruptive to everyday life. Sometimes they come on slow and have a lasting impact, such as gaining a significant amount of weight. Sometimes they can be dull, such as drowsiness or a dissociative feeling.

The important thing to remember in all these cases is that side effects are negligible compared to the benefit of the drug.

What I Wish People Knew about Depression

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

What I Wish People Knew about DepressionSomeone recently asked me to write on what I wish people knew about depression, in light of Robin William’s suicide. Here’s my response.

I wish people knew that depression is complex, that it is a physiological condition with psychological and spiritual components, and therefore can’t be forced into any neat and tidy box, that healing needs to come from lots of kinds of sources and that every person’s recovery is different.

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Changing Your Meds

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Changing Your MedsAs anyone who has read my posts knows, the last few weeks have been touch and go. I’ve had some depression and paranoia problems which have accounted for a lot of weirdness in my daily life, from dealing with neighbors, to just generally being out in public. There was even a day when I went as far into my head as to contemplate what would happen were I to die.

Thankfully, this time I refrained from posting about that on Facebook, instead letting my family know. My family is my main support structure and thankfully we were able to get me in to see my psychiatrist to tweak my meds.

5 New Theories on the Cause of Depression

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

5 New Theories on the Cause of DepressionI grew up thinking depression was as simple as one little transmitter getting lost somewhere on his way from one neuron to the other, much like I do when I venture farther than five miles from home. It’s an easy explanation — a chemical imbalance in the brain — one that pharmaceutical companies have adopted to craft creative commercials like the Zoloft egg not chasing the butterfly.

But depression is so much more complex than that.

Benzodiazepines & Alzheimer’s Disease

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Benzodiazepines & Alzheimer's DiseaseIf you’re taking an anti-anxiety medication referred to as a benzodiazepine — such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan or Klonopin — there’s a new eye-opening study out that should get your attention.

When used PRN — on as needed basis — sparingly for times of increased anxiety, these drugs can be life-savers.

But some people use them more frequently. And for those kinds of users, new research suggests an important link to the risk of eventually developing Alzheimer’s.

When Happiness Isn’t a Choice

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

When Happiness Isn’t a ChoiceAmerican poet T. S. Eliot wrote:

I said to my soul, be still and wait …

Letting Go of Imagined Symbolism in Psychosis

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Letting Go of Imagined Symbolism in PsychosisIn the midst of a psychotic episode, whether the result of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, one of the main motivating factors in our jilted decisions is the imagined symbolism in meaningless circumstances or objects.

I can remember when I was out on the streets of New York and Boston, deep in the midst of a major psychotic episode. I was convinced I had a mission to bring peace to the world, and though I was destitute, I wandered around following signs and colors and motions of passersby convinced there was some deeper symbolism or meaning in these insignificant things.

How to Deal with the Side Effects of Your Meds

Monday, July 28th, 2014

{Flickr photo by epSos.de}

When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago, the first medication I took was called Abilify. It was a new drug, one that was supposed to protect against metabolic issues like gaining weight.

It would’ve been fine but it had a nasty side effect no one told me about — the constant, restless feeling of needing to move. I couldn’t sit still and I was so uncomfortable that I’d take miles-long walks every day just to ease the feeling. I felt like I was about to jump out of my skin.

Ted Stanley Donates $650 Million to Psychiatric Research

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Ted Stanley Donates $650 Million to Psychiatric ResearchWow. Just wow.

Nobody has ever donated so much money dedicated to better understanding the foundations of mental illness.

The gift, announced earlier this week, is being made by Ted Stanley to his Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute to support its ongoing — and new — research into the genetic and molecular basis of psychiatric disorders.

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