What I Want You to Know about Mental Illness

Even on my worst days, I feel extremely lucky to have my job. It grants me the opportunity to hear stories and engage with people in the most raw, vulnerable way possible.

I have the privilege of studying, knowing, and working intimately with mental health issues; placing me on the front lines of this issue.

But it is easy to forget that an all-too-real stigma exists within the four walls of a therapy room.
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Storytelling Will Save the World

Captain’s log. Stardate January 2011. Where unfortunately many have gone before. I’m 26 years old and thinking about dying. Actually, I’m not being entirely truthful. I’m dangling halfway out the fourth floor window of my bedroom in New York City.

I don’t really want to die. I just want the emotional pain to stop, and I don’t know how to do that. Both my father and grandfather didn’t know how to make their own terrible personal pain stop, and now both are dead.
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Borderline Personality

Borderline Personality Disorder: Facts vs. Myths

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious psychiatric condition marked by a pattern of unstable and stormy relationships, an unformed sense of identity, chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom, unstable moods, and poor impulsive control in areas such as spending, eating, sex, and substance use.

Fear surrounding real or imagined abandonment from loved ones is a profound concern for people with BPD and often is what underlies their destructive behaviors. Some people with BPD will go to dangerous lengths to avoid this fear, for example, by becoming suicidal or engaging in self-mutilation.
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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children

The mental health community has come to understand that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be as common in children as in adults. What began as a disorder mostly of combat veterans has been shown to affect numerous trauma survivors across many situations.

Trauma comes in many forms. A child could be traumatized by a major event, such as physical or sexual abuse, a car accident, or by witnessing a horrifying event. Those are the easier ones to identify. But children also can be traumatized from a conglomeration of daily toxic stress, such as living in poverty, constant bullying, or moving to a place much different than their previous geographic location (culture shock).

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Free Mental Health Care Makes Financial Sense

Often people fret about who will pay for "free" healthcare. One solution more communities should look at is a private-public partnership between the local hospital and the government.

In Orange County, Florida, a mental health clinic that opened in 2010 has served over 1,100 patients. And they did it without charging a dime to the poor, uninsured patients they serve.

How does this make any fiscal sense? You may be surprised by the answer.

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Brain and Behavior

How to Let Go of Perfectionism

Perfectionists strive for flawlessness in all parts of life. They have unattainably high standards for themselves. They are exceedingly concerned about others’ evaluation of them, hardly ever satisfied with their performance, and blame themselves when things go wrong -- even when they are not directly involved or responsible.

Perfectionists consider mistakes to be personal failures or deficits. Mistakes are not seen as a normal part of learning and growing that we all experience.

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Schizophrenia is Best Treated with Combination of Meds & Psychotherapy

Going against decades of conventional wisdom, new, robust research from the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that schizophrenia shouldn't just be treated with antipsychotic drugs. Instead, a multidisciplinary approach that includes both psychotherapy and family support, combined with lower doses of antipsychotic medications, appears to work much better than drugs alone.

This new research should act as a wake-up call to all mental health professionals, people with schizophrenia, and their families.

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Anxiety and Panic

Fear of Missing Out

In case you didn’t have enough to worry about, there’s a new mental health syndrome on the horizon with a funky acronym. It’s FOMO: the Fear of Missing Out.

Missing out? But on what? On what other people are doing. They’re having exciting experiences that you’re not. They attended the hottest concert in town and you didn’t. Their kids have been accepted into Ivy League schools and yours weren’t. And the beat goes on, and on, and on.

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Telltale Signs It’s Time to See a Couples Therapist

Couples often wait way too long to go to therapy. “According to John Gottman, couples wait an average of seven years from when a ‘therapy-worthy’ issue arises before they reach out for support,” said Anna Osborn, LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship specialist.

However, it's key to seek counseling early instead of putting off something that warrants professional help -- before your issues become too entrenched and your relationship is in shards.
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Anxiety and Panic

How to Handle Panic Attacks

There are many things in life to be afraid of. You can be injured or killed in myriad ways. You can get lost. You can make a fool of yourself. Something can happen to your loved ones. Another terrorist attack can happen at any moment. So much to be frightened of. It’s enough to make you fearful of leaving your house!

And so you don’t. Or, you do with much trepidation. And when you do, you may feel your heart racing, your body trembling, your breathing tight. You may feel chest pain and wonder if you’re having a heart attack. You may feel sweaty and wonder why your body temperature is out of whack. You may feel dizzy, unsteady, faint and more.

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Is Your Therapist Helping You Enough?

Is your weekly appointment just a time to vent? What do you do when your therapy seems to be going nowhere?

Chances are you came to therapy because you wanted something you felt you couldn’t achieve on your own. You were unhappy or discouraged; maybe you felt hopeless about your career or relationship. You sought change. So you searched for a therapist, paid your hard-earned money, and started examining your life.
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5 Surprising Things We Can Learn About Psychotherapy from Howard Stern

I like psychotherapy. I also like Howard Stern. Although his radio show is a shell of what it used to be -- airing only 3 days a week and irregularly at that -- Stern remains a self-aggrandizing enigma.

On one hand, he's infamous for his rowdy humor, endless fascination with his bowel movements, and juvenile bits, especially earlier in his career. But on the other, as he's grown older (he's now 61), he's also matured and slowed down a bit. He has been a regular user of transcendental meditation (TM), long before mindfulness became the latest fad. And he's also been a loyal psychotherapy-goer for decades, attending sessions a mere three times a week (from a high of four).

But whenever Stern talks about psychotherapy on his radio show, I tense up. Because while well-meaning, he inevitably says things about psychotherapy that are probably only true in his world... but not for the rest of us.

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