A Journey to a Diagnosis

I knew that I had a mental illness. I had for a very long time. Ever since I was 15 and tried to kill myself I knew that I had a mental illness. But I wasn’t very accepting of it. Don’t get me wrong, I tried all of the meds. I always took them. That was, until I got manic and stopped taking them. Nobody knew that I had bipolar disorder. They thought that I had depression or schizoaffective disorder.

In all fairness, I didn’t tell them all of my symptoms, but then, I didn’t know, either. I thought that mania was normal. I thought that that was how normal, happy people were supposed to be. I didn’t think anything else of it.
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5 Myths About What Therapy Should Be Like — and the Actual Facts

Today, thanks to the internet, there’s a lot more information about therapy and how it works. But that still doesn’t stop some myths from being perpetuated. And perpetuated. These myths might come from television and movies. They might come from friends or colleagues or even strangers. They might come from our own assumptions as we try to fill in the blanks. Below are five common myths, which you may or may not have (mis)interpreted as truths, along with the actual facts.

We think a therapist is just like a friend.
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Recovering from Childhood Abuse: The Past Keeps Getting Clearer

In trauma recovery it is said, “You’ve done the hardest part -- you survived the abuse.”

After a year of accepting that I was sexually abused as a child, I’m finally starting to understand that recovery isn’t the hardest part. The shame is less automatic now, and the past is getting clearer.

As a child suffering abuse we don’t understand exactly what’s happening to us. Sex and sexuality is a mystery, so it’s not easy to recognize sexual abuse. Physical abuse is also confusing. We are tricked into thinking we’ve done something to deserve maltreatment. And in the end, we give in to this naive hope: “Everything is normal. No one would let abuse happen to me. I’m not in an unsafe situation.”
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Brain Stimulation Could Be a Viable Treatment for Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa affects millions of people throughout the world. It has a high mortality rate and the therapies that are currently available are highly ineffective. Yet only 10–30% of adults with anorexia recover with psychotherapy, and pharmacological treatments have a low efficacy. The need for better treatments is obvious and urgent.

Research has revealed a number of changes which occur in the brain of patients with anorexia. These include both structural and functional deficits such as the loss of grey matter in areas that play important roles in the regulation of feeding behavior, reward, emotion and motivation. It is believed that anorexia may be associated with a dysregulation of inhibitory and reward systems, which lays the ground for compulsive and obsessive behaviors to arise.

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Rating Mental Health Apps: Does Self-Monitoring Even Help?

With more than 165,000 health apps available -- most of them monitoring stuff related to your health in some manner -- you might assume there's a ton of research demonstrating the effectiveness of such self-monitoring. But you'd be wrong.

In the world of mental health apps, there's virtually no research demonstrating that monitoring your moods will benefit your treatment outcomes.

So why do so many companies and developers offer apps that simply spit back the data you put into them? Is there a rating organization that can help you make sense of all the mental health apps available?

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Anxiety and Panic

A Bigger Deal than the Freshman 15

I was (Carolina) blue. Unlike my beloved Tar Heel hoops squad, my unstoppable opponent was bludgeoning me into submission. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety nearly toppled me during my college years. The issue is bigger than my beloved alma mater: On university campuses, mental health issues affect 25 percent of the student body.

I bleed Tar Heel blue. I founded a student organization on campus, graduated with a shiny GPA, and studied abroad in Australia. I rejoiced on Franklin Street when the Heels upended Duke. From riveting seminars to proud traditions, Chapel Hill provided the quintessential university experience.

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Separate and Unequal

You have just fallen off your bike. You hit a rock and were thrown over the handlebars onto your back. Ouch.

What do you do now? You go to the doctor. X-rays are taken. Nothing is broken. You get some medicine, you go home.

The next day at work, you are having some trouble with the pain. Your peers ask what’s wrong. You reply that you fell off your bike. They say that's too bad; hope you feel better. Move on. They don’t think too much of it.

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Binge Eating

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Weight Management

Countless people feel unhappy with their bodies. Some have eating disorders, and many others deal with issues surrounding weight management. They may have tried the standard self-help techniques, from exercise and dieting to grueling weight loss programs, without success.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective and widely used therapeutic approach that can be applied to issues including self-esteem, body image, and weight management.

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Massachusetts: Third-World Mental Health Care?

There are few states that have a more broken mental health care system than Massachusetts. You'd probably think of poorer, more rural states when you think of low-quality healthcare. After all, Massachusetts is home to some of the nation's best universities (Harvard, MIT) and renowned hospital systems (Mass. General [Partners], Brigham & Women's, Beth Israel).

Yet none of these local institutions, nor the state itself, appear to have given much thought to the mental health care of their most vulnerable citizens. Instead, I live in a state that appears to offer the equivalent of third-world care for those with chronic mental illness.

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Brain and Behavior

Family Constellation Work

For all of us who have experienced family life and its impact, with all of its places of light and darkness, there is a wonderful group process that fosters present-day healing. It is called family constellation work and is a day-long workshop run by a trained facilitator.

Family constellation workshops were started by Dr. Bert Hellinger, a family therapist from Germany, and are now available worldwide. Participants target an area of their present life that needs clarity, resolution, or healing. It does not have to relate to family history, nor are the processes always related to the family of origin.

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Inspiration & Hope

Video: If Therapy Doesn’t Work, Try Again

Going to see a therapist is a little different than going to see a dentist. And not just because a responsible therapist will never dose you with laughing gas.
When you get a tooth pulled, it's generally a one-off thing. You wouldn't shop around at different dentists to see who does the best job pulling out your tooth. If your first dentist botches the job and only gets the tooth pulled out partway, you wouldn't simply head on down the street to the next dentist to try again.
But therapy is more complicated. Getting your psychological "teeth" pulled is more of a drawn-out, imperfect, subtle process. And therapists are professionals, but they're also humans.
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Anxiety and Panic

How Media Shapes Our View of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Most people would consider an abuse victim as a person who experienced “trauma.” However people often don’t view them as potentially experiencing “post-traumatic stress disorder.” PTSD is more commonly thought of as a condition affecting combat veterans, but the number of civilians suffering from PTSD is 13 times more than military personnel, according to a release from Drexel University. So what gives? According to researchers at Drexel, the media plays a large role in what the general population and lawmakers associate with PTSD.

The Drexel study reviewed 35 years worth of articles on PTSD published in the New York Times -- from 1980, the year PTSD was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to 2015. Of 871 articles a little over 50 percent focused on military cases of PTSD. The occurrence of PTSD in veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan is 20 percent. But research shows the condition is far more likely to affect civilians who suffer sexual assault (30-80 percent of survivors), nonsexual assault (23–39 percent), survivors of disasters (30–40 percent), and car crashes (25–33 percent).
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