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organica 02-21-2005 07:43 AM

I'm really quite sick of the way certain parties on here (& elsewhere) state that mental illness is a "choice". You apparently "choose" to be depressed, bipolar, schizophrenic, borderline, what have you.

And recovery is also a "choice". If you do what Dr Phil/David Burns/Oprah/etc tells you to do, you will recover, apparently.

What a load of crap.

Mental illness is as real as diabetes, heart disease or any other *biological* illness.

Just because it's "mental" doesn't mean it's *imaginary*, but some people seem unable to make that distinction.

The fact is, mental illness is real, & while Dr Phil may help a mildly depressed person with the means to treat themselves well, you try that approach with a homeless schizophrenic, & I think you'll see unsatisfactory results.

I speak from experience, & I don't see how anyone who hasn't experienced severe, persistent mental illness (& the usual accompaniment, grinding poverty) can say that all I (& other ill people) need to do is join a gym, read "Feeling Good" & have an aromatherapy bath, & I/we will be all better.

Let's leave the fuzzy Chicken Soup for the Soul self-help for the mentally well people who are feeling a little down. Nothing wrong with that.

Next time you feel like belittling a seriously mentally ill person whose life has been derailed by symptoms, side effects, hospitalizations & stigma, why not just bite your tongue.

Real mental illness is life-threatening & needs serious treatment, not ignorance & lectures.

jfoster23 02-21-2005 07:53 AM

You'll get no arguement from me.I have been around people with debilitating delusional type depression...Schizophrenia...Bipolar...It's not something that anyone would choose.



Some forms of mild depression still fall into the area where one still has enough power to get help,or refuse it,but depression tends to make one feel unworthy of seeking help.If it gets more serious the problems just get harder and harder. It's like telling someone with two broken legs that they should get up and walk to the hospital.

Kiz 02-21-2005 07:57 AM

Great post, Organica. I can't really add to it. While I have never been hospitalised myself, I have had friends who have, and believe me, it's not something someone chooses. I have battled severe depression and largely overcome it, but it was just that, a battle. I certainly never chose to feel that way, nor would I again. It took a lot to overcome, and I had a lot of loving support in my life to help me do so.

Gothic Sponge 02-21-2005 08:11 AM

Great post!

notquiteinsane 02-21-2005 08:50 AM

Great post. It is a very complicated issue with CERTAIN mental illnesses. For example, I consider alcoholism a mental illness. (My mom recently died of it.) But it cannot be treated unless the patient desperately wants to get better. And I mean desperately, because a lot of alcoholics want to get better but not enough to keep going to AA meetings or rehab. In a strange way your illness gets a hold of you, makes you think that you need it. I suffered from moderate depression for many years and it got to the point where the depression was comfortable, like a well-worn pair of jeans. I knew I had to let go of that feeling -- that I almost wanted to be depressed because it was so familiar -- in order to really get better. There are a thousand little choices you make each day that can make your depression either worse or better.



That being said, lots of other disesases are the same way. If you have diabetes, you need to choose to take your insulin, choose to eat the right foods in order to get better, for example.



I don't know much about schizophrenia, bipolar, or severe depression but it seems to me these are just in a different league and shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as your garden variety mild-to-moderate depression, that exercise and self care do help with. Not that anyone asked but people are starting to realize that meditation can help with depression too. Meditation and exercise are what are responsible for helping me wean myself off the meds.

GhostUser 02-21-2005 09:18 AM

Excellent thread.



As a depression sufferer myself, I swear, if I hear, "Oh, snap out of it!" one more time...







The Rev

vggiegirl 02-21-2005 09:25 AM

Good post but I want to add that just because someone is only mildly depressed (myself) and makes a suggestion (Feeling Good Handbook) that is helping me (which other VBers suggested to me) ...Don't be so quick to discount it.

There is no reason that we can state our opinion on methods that are helping. You'll hear no "snap out of it" from me...if it were that easy, I wouldn't hate myself each and every day. Of course there are varying levels of depression, but let's not turn this into an us vs. them situation. We have enough of that on this board with the veg*n stuff

Otherwise Organica

eggplant 02-21-2005 10:24 AM

I agree completely that no one chooses to be mentally ill. However, just like someone with cancer, mentally ill people can choose to seek out any treatment and help they can. Seeking out help often seems nearly impossible for someone in the depths of depression or delusion, but I think it does people with mental illness a disservice to say that they are completely powerless to change their conditions. I have seen people I love with severe mental illness take charge of their treatment, seek out the help they need and learn to manage their conditions. It was a long hard road, but they made choices that improved their quality of life.

drake1 02-21-2005 10:54 AM

I think a lot of the controversy comes from the diagnosis of many of these illnesses coming from doctors who do not perform any tests to determine an illness but rather rely on a face to face interview.



Example: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Many claim to have it and are prescribed medications for it based solely on the fact that a doctor has interviewed someone and they have habits and thoughts that are common to the disorder. They do not actually test to see if certain chemical imbalances actually exist in the brain.

Ludi 02-21-2005 10:56 AM

There's a big movement apparently against the idea that mental illness is biological (like diabetes). For some reason the people who believe it is purely psychological feel they are at some kind of disadvantage if it is seen as biological, as if they will somehow become the victims of eugenics or something. I don't really understand it.



My sister was just diagnosed bipolar, after years of being unipolar. I also have late onset bipolar and so did our maternal grandmother. It seems clearly genetic to me, because if it were learned behavior it seems as though it would have been expressed earlier in life. Our grandmother had her only (as far as we know) full-blown manic episode in her late 70s. My sister is 43 and just had her first major manic episode with psychosis. She had to be hospitalised, but she's home now and gradually recovering.

kirkjobsluder 02-21-2005 10:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drake1 View Post

I think a lot of the controversy comes from the diagnosis of many of these illnesses coming from doctors who do not perform any tests to determine an illness but rather rely on a face to face interview.



Example: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Many claim to have it and are prescribed medications for it based solely on the fact that a doctor has interviewed someone and they have habits and thoughts that are common to the disorder. They do not actually test to see if certain chemical imbalances actually exist in the brain.



The problem is that we don't have accurate chemical or anatomical tests for many of these problems. And furthermore, why shouldn't there be a diagnosis based on extreme behavior? If a person is spending hours in the bathroom washing their hands raw, isn't that a sign that something is wrong?

cymbeline 02-21-2005 11:12 AM

I agree with Organica, no holds barred.



I hate the way all the sudden one mental order is the disorder becomes the one du jour. Right now it is OCD. People thinking they are stepping on cracks to break their mother's back are OCD. How cute. No. Real OCD is dihabilitating.



I am ashamed of my mental disorder, though I suppose I don't mind telling 5,000 strangers about it - I wouldn't tell most of my friends and certainly not co-workers.



You try ending up in a padded room with restraints or restrainted to a bed and see what it does to you. Try being in a locked room, not knowing where you are.



I hate the cutsie jokes about mental disorders. There were a few going around this Christmas which I was mass mailed by people who did not know I had the disorder I do. Real funny. Sorry I have no sense of humor about this.

ug333 02-21-2005 11:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drake1 View Post

I think a lot of the controversy comes from the diagnosis of many of these illnesses coming from doctors who do not perform any tests to determine an illness but rather rely on a face to face interview.



Example: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Many claim to have it and are prescribed medications for it based solely on the fact that a doctor has interviewed someone and they have habits and thoughts that are common to the disorder. They do not actually test to see if certain chemical imbalances actually exist in the brain.



I think that many mental illnesses can stem from a combination of chemical and psychological. I agree that physical testing should be developed (I don't think accurate tests exist now, or at least for the majority of conditions). Drugs should be rarely used to treat purely or largely psychological conditions, although it may be useful to "take the edge off" during psychological treatment.



I think ADHD is a good example of what I am saying. Some kids are just chemically that way, and only a drug will help. Some are raised in such a way that they behave like they have ADHD. The latter really needs to be treated with counseling and teaching the parents affective methods to help their child.



No matter what the cause, the condition is REAL. It can not be ignored. It is no different than a heart problem. Maybe a lifestyle choice made things worse, maybe it was genetics, maybe it was an injury (oh yeah, head trauma can also cause mental disorders), maybe it is a combination, but in all cases it is just as real as heart disease.

xrodolfox 02-21-2005 11:39 AM

good post

colorful 02-21-2005 11:47 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by eggplant View Post

I agree completely that no one chooses to be mentally ill. However, just like someone with cancer, mentally ill people can choose to seek out any treatment and help they can. Seeking out help often seems nearly impossible for someone in the depths of depression or delusion, but I think it does people with mental illness a disservice to say that they are completely powerless to change their conditions. I have seen people I love with severe mental illness take charge of their treatment, seek out the help they need and learn to manage their conditions. It was a long hard road, but they made choices that improved their quality of life.



I think the difference between those with a mental illness and those with a physical illness, is that those with a physical illness usually have the mental strength and stability they need to pursue treatment. Also, there is no social stigma against a person with cancer getting chemotherapy.



A person with a mental illness is often so mentally debilitated that seeking treatment is a lot more difficult. They probably don't have an accurate perspective on their illness, or on the fact that they even have one. They might be so mentally incapacitated that they don't know how, or don't feel strong enough, to seek treatment. And then, of course, there's the social stigma issue...I'm sure it's a lot harder to pick up the phone and tell a doctor you are depressed or you think you have a type of mental illness, than it is to call up and say "I broke my leg."



I don't think it's a lost cause for those with mental illness. But I think that those who have friends or family with mental illness need to really take it upon themselves to urge their loved ones to seek treatment, do the research, call the psychologists/psychiatrist, set up the appointment. And if you don't feel up to that as a person's friend, find someone who is up to it. When I had a severely depressed roommate, I had too much going on in my life to deal with it. But I knew her mother would, if she only knew how bad it was. So I called her mom, and thankfully my roommate got into treatment and got the medication she needed.

eggplant 02-21-2005 12:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by colorful View Post

I think the difference between those with a mental illness and those with a physical illness, is that those with a physical illness usually have the mental strength and stability they need to pursue treatment. Also, there is no social stigma against a person with cancer getting chemotherapy.



A person with a mental illness is often so mentally debilitated that seeking treatment is a lot more difficult. They probably don't have an accurate perspective on their illness, or on the fact that they even have one. They might be so mentally incapacitated that they don't know how, or don't feel strong enough, to seek treatment. And then, of course, there's the social stigma issue...I'm sure it's a lot harder to pick up the phone and tell a doctor you are depressed or you think you have a type of mental illness, than it is to call up and say "I broke my leg."



I don't think it's a lost cause for those with mental illness. But I think that those who have friends or family with mental illness need to really take it upon themselves to urge their loved ones to seek treatment, do the research, call the psychologists/psychiatrist, set up the appointment. And if you don't feel up to that as a person's friend, find someone who is up to it. When I had a severely depressed roommate, I had too much going on in my life to deal with it. But I knew her mother would, if she only knew how bad it was. So I called her mom, and thankfully my roommate got into treatment and got the medication she needed.



I agree. I didn't mean to imply that those with mental illness can seek treatment as easily as those with purely physical ailments, but I wanted to make the point that many people, even with severe mental illnesses, are not powerless to help themselves. Of course they need access to help, but there are many wonderful people who have dealt with debilitating mental illness by eventually taking responsibilty for their own treatment.

ebola 02-21-2005 01:39 PM

>>I think a lot of the controversy comes from the diagnosis of many of these illnesses coming from doctors who do not perform any tests to determine an illness but rather rely on a face to face interview.



Example: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Many claim to have it and are prescribed medications for it based solely on the fact that a doctor has interviewed someone and they have habits and thoughts that are common to the disorder. They do not actually test to see if certain chemical imbalances actually exist in the brain.







The problem is that we don't have accurate chemical or anatomical tests for many of these problems.>>





I would go so far as to say that we lack such biochemical tests for ANY mental disorder. Possible exceptions that come to mind are opiod addiction (administration of naltrexone or a similar opiod antagonist would send an opiod addict straight into withdrawl) and schizophrenia (administration of a psychomotor stimulant will often times induce hallucinations and delusions in schizophrenics...this test isn't necessarily that reliable). The problem with these sorts of "tests" is that they are both harmful and unethical.



>>I think that many mental illnesses can stem from a combination of chemical and psychological. I agree that physical testing should be developed (I don't think accurate tests exist now, or at least for the majority of conditions). Drugs should be rarely used to treat purely or largely psychological conditions, although it may be useful to "take the edge off" during psychological treatment.



I think ADHD is a good example of what I am saying. Some kids are just chemically that way, and only a drug will help. Some are raised in such a way that they behave like they have ADHD. The latter really needs to be treated with counseling and teaching the parents affective methods to help their child.>>



I'm not sure these two causal forces can really be teased apart. Biochemistry shapes behavior. Similar, thoughts, behavior, and subjective experience shape biochemistry and even neuroanatomy. Biochemistry and psychology are always linked in reciprocal interaction. We could alternately posit that biochemistry and psychology are really two different ways at getting at the same phenomenon.



ebola

GhostUser 02-21-2005 01:49 PM


drake1 02-21-2005 02:05 PM

Quote:
If a person is spending hours in the bathroom washing their hands raw, isn't that a sign that something is wrong?



Agreed, but often it seems that less extreme behavior is being diagnosed as such. Someone who vacuums their house twice a day may just be a very clean person rather than somoeone suffering from OCD.



It seems a little bizarre to take a medical diagnosis based solely on sypmtoms rather than testing. If A doctor told me I had throat cancer because I had the symptoms of having cancer and proceeded to prescribe chemotherapy, I would be very sceptical. A psychiatrist can do this and it is perfectly acceptable.

JLRodgers 02-21-2005 02:09 PM

Then there are people that can make Monk (the tv show) guy look lax in cleanliness (as in the character, not the actor himself)

ebola 02-21-2005 02:12 PM

>>Agreed, but often it seems that less extreme behavior is being diagnosed as such. Someone who vacuums their house twice a day may just be a very clean person rather than somoeone suffering from OCD.>>



Only the most incompetent of clinicians would make this sort of mistake.



>>It seems a little bizarre to take a medical diagnosis based solely on sypmtoms rather than testing. If A doctor told me I had throat cancer because I had the symptoms of having cancer and proceeded to prescribe chemotherapy, I would be very sceptical. A psychiatrist can do this and it is perfectly acceptable.>>



If your doctor were to diagnose bronchitis without attempting to grow some sort of viral culture from tissue taken from your throat, would you be skeptical?



Bracketing that aside, the issue here is we simply lack these sorts of diagnostic tools in psychology. We have to work with what we have.



ebola

colorful 02-21-2005 02:47 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drake1 View Post

Agreed, but often it seems that less extreme behavior is being diagnosed as such. Someone who vacuums their house twice a day may just be a very clean person rather than somoeone suffering from OCD.



It seems a little bizarre to take a medical diagnosis based solely on sypmtoms rather than testing. If A doctor told me I had throat cancer because I had the symptoms of having cancer and proceeded to prescribe chemotherapy, I would be very sceptical. A psychiatrist can do this and it is perfectly acceptable.



Some mental diseases can be detected using standard medical practice. Some cannot. For those diseases that cannot, diagnosis is a matter of CAREFUL and detailed evaluation of the patient's symptoms.



To echo ebola, if a psychiatrist were to diagnose a person with OCD simply because they vacuum their home twice a day, that would not be a very competent psychiatrist.

drake1 02-21-2005 02:52 PM

Quote:
Bracketing that aside, the issue here is we simply lack these sorts of diagnostic tools in psychology. We have to work with what we have.



This is what it comes down to. I am not saying that these issues (OCD< ADD< ADHD) do not exist. They do. I am saying that I would bet money that these conditions get diagnosed as such more and more as they become more popular crutches. My wife teaches school and sees parents putting kids on medication as an instrument of controlling behavior when all that is needed is discipline. Maybe not extremely common, but, more common now that parents know about ridlin.

rainbowmoon 02-21-2005 02:52 PM

I agree with much of what you have to say, organica. Mental illness is a very real illness, and something that people suffer from like any other disease.

Nontheless, just as with other diseases, there are things the mentally ill can do in order to aid in relieve their mental illness, or at least making it milder. Among the severely mentally ill, it is true that these treatments are often less effective.

However, organica, in many situations, the people on VB are only trying to help you when they offer suggestions to you. Many of these people have not suffered from mental illness, and many others have, but perhaps not as severely as you. If you feel their advice does not help you or apply to your situation, I think that is fair. However, to act as though they give this advice to patronize you or make little of your illness, I believe is unfair; there may be exceptions but I do believe most people on VB are here to help.

rainbowmoon 02-21-2005 02:57 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drake1 View Post

This is what it comes down to. I am not saying that these issues (OCD< ADD< ADHD) do not exist. They do. I am saying that I would bet money that these conditions get diagnosed as such more and more as they become more popular crutches. My wife teaches school and sees parents putting kids on medication as an instrument of controlling behavior when all that is needed is discipline. Maybe not extremely common, but, more common now that parents know about ridlin.



I'd like to expound on this.

For awhile, I was really struggling with my OCD and anxiety. My life was unbearable and excruciating. Had I not worked out a lot of the problems and started a new way of living, I'm not sure what would have happened to me.

When I was going through this, however, no one really took me seriously, not even the therapist I saw. My psychiartist took me seriously, and put me on a very serious medication (effexor) which messed me up even more. I was severely dehabilitated by my anxiety issues, and by the medication, and yet I felt that no one in my life believed they were true. I wonder if this has something to do with the prevalence of diagnosis for anxiety/OCD, and the frequency with which medicine is prescribed.

CaptainSwab 02-21-2005 03:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drake1 View Post

This is what it comes down to. I am not saying that these issues (OCD< ADD< ADHD) do not exist. They do. I am saying that I would bet money that these conditions get diagnosed as such more and more as they become more popular crutches. My wife teaches school and sees parents putting kids on medication as an instrument of controlling behavior when all that is needed is discipline. Maybe not extremely common, but, more common now that parents know about ridlin.



I teach special education and work with emotionaly distrurbed children. I do agree that these conditions exist and that mental illness is real. However, I feel that psycologists/doctors are quick to diagnose and that these kids are learning "self helplessness" which is a term I learned about in one of my classes about teaching emotionaly distrurbed kids. I feel that there a number of kids in my class that are misdiagnosed for example.



I have a girl who is diagnosed with scizofrenia (sp??). Last year she was a huge behavior problem and was sent into home hospital becasue she couldn't control herself at school. This year she was placed in my class. Anytime I see her misbhave I pull out her file and write down what she is doing on a piece of paper. I have had a meeting with her and told her that when I fill up the piece of paper we are going to have a meeting and may place her back in home hospital (which isn't just my decision but she doesn't know that). Now whenever I pull out her file when she is in one of her "moods" she stops dead what she is doing and quiets down. This is a concoious decision on her part. She does not want to be put in home hospital and taken away from her friends. Do people with scizofrenia make concious decisions like this?



I also have several students diagnosed with depression. They have a variety of ranges of some that are severaly to some that I feel are misdignosed. It would take too long to list out every epidsode I have seen every student go through that have made me come to the conlcusions I have.



Anyways, I guess my point is that I agree with drake1. I do beleive that mental illness is real but I also feel that there are a lot of people who are misdignosed.



What I have written is in no way, shape, or form a way of judgement on anybody on this board. This is what I have seen in my experience working with mentally ill individuals.

drake1 02-21-2005 04:02 PM

Quote:
Anyways, I guess my point is that I agree with drake1.



Careful, that will get you into trouble around here

Formerbaboon 02-21-2005 04:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cymbeline View Post

I agree with Organica, no holds barred.



I hate the way all the sudden one mental order is the disorder becomes the one du jour. Right now it is OCD. People thinking they are stepping on cracks to break their mother's back are OCD. How cute. No. Real OCD is dihabilitating.



I am ashamed of my mental disorder, though I suppose I don't mind telling 5,000 strangers about it - I wouldn't tell most of my friends and certainly not co-workers.



You try ending up in a padded room with restraints or restrainted to a bed and see what it does to you. Try being in a locked room, not knowing where you are.



I hate the cutsie jokes about mental disorders. There were a few going around this Christmas which I was mass mailed by people who did not know I had the disorder I do. Real funny. Sorry I have no sense of humor about this.



I don't even TRY and make fun of OCD. My mom is, and woah, its crazy.

You shoudn't be ashamed though.

Formerbaboon 02-21-2005 05:00 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drake1 View Post

This is what it comes down to. I am not saying that these issues (OCD< ADD< ADHD) do not exist. They do. I am saying that I would bet money that these conditions get diagnosed as such more and more as they become more popular crutches. My wife teaches school and sees parents putting kids on medication as an instrument of controlling behavior when all that is needed is discipline. Maybe not extremely common, but, more common now that parents know about ridlin.



Well then, all of these little kids are getting high off of the amphetamines! Because if you are not ADHD, it has the opposite effect.

Thalia 02-21-2005 05:37 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainSwab View Post


Do people with scizofrenia make concious decisions like this?

Yes, they can. They can learn to control certain behaviors in order to avoid negative reactions. But it doesn't make any delusions or hallucinations go away.



Since you have worked with people with some of these problems, have you made any efforts to learn from psychiatrists the facts about different mental illnesses and their various nuances? If you work with a kid with schizophrenia, it would seem like a good idea to start studying up on the disease so you can better work with the kids instead of jumping to conclusions based on a small handful of observations.



But I do agree many people are misdiagnosed. For example, the vast majority of antidepressants are prescribed by general practitioners, not psychiatrists. A big NO NO in my opinion


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