Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

“Oh, it’s just my OCD acting up” is a common expression used my almost everybody in casual conversation. The thing is, only about 1% of the population has been professionally diagnosed with this Mental Diversity. So what exactly is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and why do people assume it is acceptable to take on this MD?

NIMH defines OCD as a, “Chronic disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts and behaviors that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” People often assume those with OCD are extremely clean, tidy, and organized-being afraid of germs, messes, or clutter. While this can be one manifestation, OCD can also be found in those who have extreme anxiety about a real, or imagined, situation and who alleviate that through ritualistic tasks. Although these compulsion may calm the anxiety for a time, it always returns and the need to perform the task is again necessary. An example would be an obsession with a number, and the need to perform every day tasks in multiples of that number. Hoarding is another common compulsion that results from the fear of losing or throwing something important away.

While most everyone feels anxiety and performs behaviors to relieve that anxiety, the behavior is only considered to be obsessive and compulsive if it affects the individuals for more than one hour each day and interferes with their normal functioning. Many people assume they have OCD, but do not realize that their isolated compulsive events are not characteristic of this Mental Diversity.

Research is currently being conducted on the physiological aspect of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and differences between the average brains and those with OCD occur most frequently in the frontal cortex; the area of the brain that controls behaviors, decision making, and emotions.

OCD is possible, but hard, to control; the only treatment being Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are disruptive to the lives of those who have it as they must constantly give in to their compulsions or avoid their stressor. Just as with other MDs, this is not a subject to be joked about or taken lightly; so think twice before commenting on your friend’s need to sticky note label their tupper-ware collection.

-M

A Case for Faith: Mental Illness and the Church

This is an interesting case study on the link between mental health and involvement in religion. Whether or not one is a religious person, it has been shown that channeling energy into the belief of greater things, or believing that a mental condition or situation is not entirely ones fault has been shown to be therapeutic for many struggling with a Mental Diversity. A sense of community that comes from groups such as churches, as well as an outlet to keep ones mind off of negative thoughts and feelings can also be seen as pro’s of religious groups. Thanks for the interesting read!

-M

Source: A Case for Faith: Mental Illness and the Church

Dissociative Identity Disorder

What everybody does, but some just do better.

Dissociation occurs on a scale; on one end are the day dreamers-those who think of far off places when they don’t want to be in class or at that boring job presentation-on the other end are those with severe personality disorders. Everybody else falls somewhere in between. While only 1% of individuals have been diagnosed with DID, it is estimated that 7% of people have experienced some sort of severe dissociation or personality disorder.

Those on the far end of the spectrum are said to have a Dissociative Identity Disorder, which in recent past has been known as Multiple Personality Disorder. Web MD defines it as, “having two or more distinct or split identities…that continually have power over the person’s behavior.” These two personalities can toggle from one to the other in the matter of minutes, days, or months. While many may think that this describes the common “two-faced” middle schooler, think again. Each personality has his/her own sex, age, mannerisms, and personality traits.

Severe DID is commonly associated with PTSD in that it develops in individuals who experienced prolonged and severe trauma. It is a very effective coping skill that allows individuals to “go away” during a particular traumatic event. It is especially prevalent along victims of child-abuse, allowing the child to withstand extreme brutalities without feeling pain in the moment.

What is not always clear to society, as well as those with this diversity, is that all of these personalities are equally valid. There is no “better” or “more correct” personality in individuals with this mental diversity. Their multiple personalities each have their own beauties, talents, and minds. You know the saying, “two heads are better than one”? So is also true of those with DID.

Mild DID can also occur in individuals with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem as a way to “get away” from their self-harming an painful thoughts. This can lead to short term memory loss, inability to recall information on exams, and inability to form personal relationships.

While DID may seem uncontrollable to those who experience it, many treatments are available to better help those with this MD to control their dissociation. Most common is psychotherapy in the field of mindfulness in which individuals are taught to recognize and control when they begin to dissociate. Hypnosis is commonly used for those who experience multiple personalities, and art therapy has also been shown as an outlet for painful suppressed feelings and thoughts.

I hope this post was enlightening! Have a good day y’all!

-M

Celebrating Mental Illness

This is an interesting take on entertainment media’s portrayal of mental illness.

It is very true that the media either ignores mental diversities in general, as our society sees them as uncomfortable or “vibe killing”. However, when someone with an MD does pop up on television, the uncomfortable, stressful, and scary parts of their diversity is often ignored. Their struggle is romanticized and their MD is diluted to fit a desirable image of strength and humility. While this is not all bad- I would prefer to be portrayed as something desirable rather than something to run from- it is still necessary to accurately show the struggle that many people with MD go through. Having a mental diversity is not all rainbows and sunshine. While MD tends to give people their best personality traits, it also lends some of their worst. If society only sees the pretty side of MD, they will be scared and confused when it comes to actually dealing with a person who’s mental diagnosis is a reality. This is, I believe, a major reason why the mental illness stigma exists. News media portrays those with MD as psychopaths, entertainment media portrays them as the struggling heroin, yet we are neither; we are normal people. Everybody has their own struggles, their own protagonist stories, their own images. And it is unfair for the media to try to fit all of this personality and diversity into one inaccurate role.

Thanks you guys!

-M

Source: Celebrating Mental Illness

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Or as I like to call it, ‘The uncontrollable aftermath that occurs when something really bad happens to you and people expect you to be fine anyways.’

PTSD is commonly associated with veterans returning from wars, but it is possible to have PTSD from the occurrence of other events such as: abuse (mental and physical), car accidents, rape, natural disasters, etc. It is even possible to acquire PTSD through the observation of terrifying situations happening to other people. Thus, only about 22% of all those suffering with PTSD are veterans or active military.

Another common misconception about PTSD is that is is more common amongst men, who historically have been in more traumatizing combat situations than women. However, women are two times as likely to be diagnosed with some sort of PTSD. This is due to higher rates of abuse among female children, as well as rape and sexual assault. (via  http://www.ptsdunited.org/ptsd-statistics-2/)

PTSD is characterized by severe anxiety attacks as a result of environmental triggers that lead the individual to vividly “re-live” their traumatic experience. It can also be expressed through strong feelings of depression and guilt, as well as forced amnesia of the event. Often-times those with PTSD lash out in anger or frustration as a symptom of their fear and confusion.

Up until 1980 PTSD was not seen as a serious health issue; those being diagnosed were seen as “weak” and “overly sensitive”. However, it has been experimentally shown that the brain undergoes physical changes when exposed to extremely stressful situation. The image below shows the brain of an individual without PTSD (left) and one of someone who has been exposed to a traumatic situation (right). Loss of hippocampus volume in the PTSD individual can lead to memory loss, increased amygdala function that results in fear, and decreased blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex which causes panic attacks and lack of judgement during fearful situations.                                                                                                    (via http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2729089/). Genes acting in individual’s DNA have also been linked to a higher susceptibility to PTSD.

PTSD(image by http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2011/suspect-gene-variants-boost-ptsd-risk-after-mass-shooting.shtml)

About 8% of those living in first-world countries will be diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their lifetime, making it one of the most common mental diversities. Many times PTSD is overlooked as a one-time episode or overreaction, meaning that an even higher percentage of adults and children actually suffer from PTSD. Another reason that PTSD commonly goes undiagnosed is that individuals with PTSD statistically pay a higher insurance rate for their medical care. This may discourage those suffering from symptoms to fail to seek treatment.

This is one reason why the stigma over mental diversity must end. High health insurance rates discourage individuals from getting necessary treatment for their diversities, employers and businesses discriminate against those who admit to mental health treatments, and pressure from society to “become normal again” leads to added stresses that could eventually lead to suicide. Those diagnosed with PTSD have a higher risk for suicidal and self-harm thoughts than do the general population.

PTSD is normally treated using antidepressant and anti anxiety medications, as well as extensive therapy. Under this treatment pattern those with PTSD have a greatly increased quality of life over those who go untreated. Often, individuals undiagnosed or untreated for PTSD fall into addictions or aggressive behavior as a coping mechanism. Thus, it is imperative that those who have experienced traumatic experiences to be tested for for this MD as it can be treated on a rolling basis.

If you, or someone you know, believe that you/he/she/they are experiencing signs of PTSD, please get help. Due to the high percentage of individuals experiencing PTSD, it is likely that you know someone suffering from this high anxiety mental diversity. The majority of those with PTSD function un-recognized in society, proving that they are not always angry individuals incapable of performing to societies standards.

If you would like to read more about PTSD follow the link below. A lot of the information in this post came from this website, as well as other sites mentioned above. If you are currently living with PTSD please comment below, we would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on the matter!

Stay warm y’all!

-M

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml#part_145373

OUR MOVEMENT TO END THE MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA MUST BE PRO MED

Hey y’all! Another interesting post I found today that I thought I would share.

I do have some opinions on this piece; treating mental diversities takes more than either medication or therapy can provide. Thus, it is normally recommended that people go through some form of both. A lot of problems are deeper physically than therapy can handle, and a lot of times medication can only help a few of the experienced symptoms. The use of both together has an overall higher benefit to the individual.

It is no secret that the rate of medication to treat mental illness has been on the rise in the past decade, alarming many who worry about rising medical costs and addiction rates. Commonly people begin taking medications because they do not want to put in the work of therapy. This is a dangerous way to go about treatment, as it does not always address the underlying situational causes for mental diversities. It is also common for people who reject the use of drugs, or cannot afford said medications, to only attend therapy when they need to be treating a deeper cause of their complex situation.

Thus, I think it is important for lawmakers and the public to support funding for both therapy treatments as well as research into therapy drugs; both to be used responsibly.

Hope you guys have a good MLK weekend!

-M

Source: OUR MOVEMENT TO END THE MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA MUST BE PRO MED

Guns and the Mentally Diverse

Hey all!

I have a feeling that this post is going to result in a huge political debate, but I am not trying to shove my political views out onto the blogging/reading world (I promise). Rather, I am trying to address a huge issue facing our world today and how it affects those with mental diversity. As such, I would LOVE to hear all of y’alls opinions on the matter so please, please, please comment any impressions below.

As many of you are well aware, there were 52,678 acts of gun violence in 2015 in the US (Via the Gun Violence Archive). Most people assume that these acts come from gang related incidents, isolated homicides, or accidents. The other major belief,however, is that mass shootings is the direct cause of those suffering from mental illness. Society sees the mentally diverse as a group of dangerous people on the brink of grabbing a gun and slaughtering innocent people for no reason.

This, of course, is not accurate. Less than 5% of all acts of violence in the US are performed by people diagnosed with a mental illness (via the article titled Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms).

What is true, however, is that 60% of those killed by guns each year are self-inflicted suicide attempts. What society needs to focus on is not that the mentally diverse are dangerous to others, but that they can potentially be dangerous to themselves.

There are currently many solutions being brought to the table by the left side of the political spectrum regarding tightening restrictions on gun laws. I, personally, am in favor of higher gun control. This country has a problem, and while restrictions on guns may not reduce the rate of violence, there are still many problems in the gun selling industry that need to be addressed to ensure fair treatment of all sellers and buyers.

What scares me about tighter gun laws, however, is the background checks. It is legitimate that those with criminal records and illegal status should not be allowed to own a firearm, but many proposals are calling for restrictions on the selling of guns to those diagnosed with mental diversity. This con potentially lead to a plethora of problems:

  1. Many people with symptoms of a mental diversity will fail to weak, or stop treatment in order to obtain or keep a firearm. This could lead to dangerous situations as many people require a consistent treatment plan to keep them from having their normal acts of delusion and violence. This is neither safe for the public, nor for those affected by MD.
  2. Discrimination. Just as societies in the past have discriminated against: african americans, jews, and women; so, I fear, will society begin to discriminate against the mentally diverse. Although there is already a huge stigma around those with MD, being barred from purchasing a gun could spiral into people being segregated from jobs, insurance companies, and businesses based on their mental health status.
  3. People will find a way to obtain a firearm regardless of the law. This creates a problem as these guns and their owners will be unregistered, and even harder to identify by the appropriate law enforcement in the case of disaster. It is better to keep track of and tax those with guns than to allow underground trading on the black-market.

Now there is a reasonable argument against the removal of guns in order to protect an individual from killing themselves. However, there are more ways to commit suicide than by firearm. Denying someone the right to own a gun will not prevent them from committing suicide, but will instead lead to other societal problems as discussed above.

Now, you say, how do we prevent the mass shootings by the mentally diverse if we allow them to have guns? There is no good answer to this, but I believe that removing their ability to purchase a gun is not the right one. I think that president Obama took a, small, but good step in the path towards resolving this issue by ordering money for the treatment of mental diversities. While I hate to suggest that those with MD need to be treated, as it insinuates that those with mental diversities need to be fixed, it is still necessary for many individuals to undergo medication and social therapies. Research and funding in this area can not only help prevent gun violence by suicide, it can also change how society sees the mentally diverse. By acknowledging that mental diversity is out of the control of the individual, that it cannot always be controlled without therapies, and that it is a large enough issue to need funding, can reduce the many fears and insecurities that those with and without MD possess. Having a mental illness is like living with arthritis; it is not dangerous or harmful when it is being treated properly. The problem is that most mental diversities are not being treated in the ways that they could, or should be. A lot of this is due to the stigma around the issue, as well as a lack of research in the field.

Thus, I believe that while stricter gun laws are necessary, we should be careful in how they are implemented and what they stand for. It is also important for people to stay aware of the back ground behind statistics, as they do not always tell the whole story. I would like to end with one very important statement: those with MD are not dangers to society in any way, shape, or form. We may require medication and therapy, but our minds are what make us unique and important contributions to society. I believe that our differences are what makes us invaluable to the worlds today.

What are y’alls take on this major issue?

-M