When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago it was like walking in a fog. I was lost in my delusions, I was confused about what was happening to me and I was trying to grapple with what exactly reality was.
My family was suffering too.
They had no background with mental illness and no frame of reference about what to expect with it.
I had asked for help a few times but they just thought my skewed thinking was a result of smoking marijuana and that once I stopped everything I would be fine. It didn’t click for them until after my first major episode, when they took me to the hospital and I was finally diagnosed.
In the eight years that I’ve lived with schizophrenia, I’ve seen good days and horrible days, I’ve had successes and I’ve had failures. But nothing can compare to the despair I felt in the first few months and years of living with the illness.
They say there are five stages of grief when you lose a loved one. I can tell you from personal experience that those five stages also exist and are just as intense when you’re told you’re crazy.
A delusion is defined as a firmly held belief or impression which is contradicted by reality or rational argument.
As a person with schizophrenia, I’m more than familiar with delusional thinking. A major part of my experience living with the illness has taught me to be wary of any thought I have which doesn’t seem entirely real.
People and professionals have long wondered whether there was a downside to giving away free samples of prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies keep doctors’ offices well-stocked on such free samples, so they obviously suspected it was a way to introduce patients to their brand and get them to come back for more. As paying customers.
Now a new study puts the matter to rest and explains why that “free” sample actually results in higher costs — for everyone.
I’ve long scratched my head at one of the arbitrary political lines drawn in the sand in the world of mental health and mental illness advocacy — “serious mental illness.” (Some people refer to it as “severe mental illness,” but the correct term is “serious.”)
Focusing on this division is a lie. It is a lie told to Congress and to the public with earnest testimonials. But also with little evidence that it represents a valid — or meaningful — scientific distinction.
So it goes with a small study of 28 patients in the UK who had severe clinical depression that didn’t respond to any previous treatments. Only 8 of them responded to ketamine infusions. Of those 8, only 4 actually remitted — meaning they had no depression at the end of the study.
Those are not great statistics for any treatment to hail as a success. Why the disconnect?
Part of his recovery involves helping people build their resilience and mental fitness as the Director of R U OK? In his book, Back From the Brink: True Stories and Practical Help for Overcoming Depression and Bipolar Disorder, he offers advice gleaned from interviews with 4,064 people who live with mood disorders.
He asked the respondents to rate the treatments they had tried and how much each had contributed to their recovery. Here’s what he found.
I also know what makes a person a good psychiatrist, a mediocre one, and one that should have been held back in medical school, without a license to dole out antipsychotics and other powerful drugs to vulnerable patients.
Here are a few things I look for in a doctor, qualities that set them apart from your average psychiatrist.
He will have read a host of books on various topics, from sleep strategies to marital advice, so he knows what he is recommending. My psychiatrist has compiled the following list of recommended books for patients. It may be helpful to you too.
As long-time readers of World of Psychology know, there’s no easy fix to the convoluted, second-class mental health care system in the United States. People with mental disorders — like depression, anxiety, ADHD or bipolar disorder — are shunted away from the mainstream healthcare system into a patchwork quilt of “care” that varies greatly depending upon where you live, what kind of insurance you have (if you have any), and whether you want to pay cash for treatment instead of using your insurance.
It shouldn’t be this way. It shouldn’t be so hard to find a good treatment provider. It shouldn’t be so complicated to get integrated care from a single practice.
Why is it so hard to get good mental health treatment in the U.S.?
Research led by Swiss neuroscientist Pascal Vrticka and his U.S. colleagues at Stanford University has found that, among other things, humor plays a key role in psychological health. According to the study, recently published in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, adults with psychological disorders such as autism or depression often have a modified humor processing activity and respond less evidently to humor than people who do not have these disorders. Vrticka believes that a better understanding how the brain processes humor could lead to the development of new treatments.
This is not the first study to explore the healing force of humor. In 2006 researchers led by Lee Berk and Stanley A. Tan at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, found that two hormones — beta-endorphins (which alleviate depression) and human growth hormone (HGH, which helps with immunity) — increased by 27 and 87 percent respectively when volunteers anticipated watching a humorous video. Simply anticipating laughter boosted health-protecting hormones and chemicals.