Daily Archives: March 18, 2018

Hypomania aka Fried Brain

Those who know me well would hardly be surprised to hear (or read) that my mind is fried. Focused? Who me, focused? Nope. Instead, one project or comment gets me going in one direction, another in another direction. I end…

Why I Hate TV Drug Commercials

Just as a general rule, I dislike commercials for any drugs. They impede the doctor/patient relationship. (I’ve often considered saying to my doctor, “I’m supposed to ask you if Latuda, Humira, Prolia, Viberzi, Lunesta, Cialis, Trulia, Trintellix, Keytruda, and Boniva are right for me.”) TV – and to a lesser extent print – ads encourage people to act as unpaid drug reps. And they only advertise expensive drugs until they go generic, which is when they stop being expensive and the drug companies stop making so much money.

(If you want to read more on the issue, go to https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=106198.)

But there are other things about TV drug ads that make me more than a little cranky. Like where are the ads for drugs to treat bipolar disorder?

Oh, there are ads for drugs to treat bipolar depression, as well as ones for treating non-bipolar depression. You’d think that with approximately 2.8 million people who have bipolar in the U.S. and Canada (http://www.pendulum.org/bpfacts.html), there would be a market for bipolar treatments.

Also, the ads for depression treatments don’t always get it right. A few of them say that depression is more than just sadness, or that it lasts for several weeks at least. One even says that depression is a “tangle” of symptoms, which is certainly true. (Although the tangle is shown graphically in primary red, yellow, and blue, which don’t really say “depression” to me.)

Most, however, treat depression simplistically, with hidden depression represented by a smiley face mask hiding a frowny face mask. (The colors in that ad are muted during the “before” scenes and more vibrant during the “after” scenes, which is an old advertising trick.)

The ads also make it look like the most important thing about depression is not spending time with your family or not enjoying it if you do. While that certainly is one symptom of depression, it is by-and-large irrelevant to people like me, who don’t have 2.1 school-age children to take on picnics. And it’s pretty much a guilt trip for people who do.

Then there’s how the people in the ads are represented. Oh, they almost always show one POC and one slightly older person (frolicking with the grandkids). But all of them are attractive. All of them are models. Are we supposed to identify with them? Or just expect to look like them when our depression lifts?

I wouldn’t be so annoyed by this issue if it weren’t that ads for other kinds of drugs – those for psoriasis and diabetes, for example – have actual people with the disorder in them. Testimonials from those who’ve been there, as it were. Even real-life cancer patients are now featured in ads for treatment centers.

What’s up with that, I wonder? Surely they don’t imagine that only pretty people get depression or bipolar. It can’t be that they can’t find any well-spoken, real-life people who can relate their own experiences. I for one would feel more reassured if I heard about a treatment from someone who’s lived with the disorder instead of from someone selected at a casting call. Are we all homely and illiterate? (I meet the qualification for literacy, at any rate.)

Instead of trying to convince us what medications our doctors might prescribe us, the airtime would be better spent on ads that educated the public on depression and bipolar disorder. But those would be PSAs, of course, appear only at 3:00 a.m., and not make anyone any money.

Update: I have finally seen an ad for a drug to treat bipolar 1 mania. Everything else I wrote here remains the same.

 

Weeks/Months/Days Dedicated to Mental Health Topics

Here are some of the days/weeks/months set aside for the various mental illnesses and/or mental health topics.  Take some time to click on the source link to learn how you can help to raise awareness on  the topic. If you own a social media site or write a blog, share information about the topic during that time period and encourage others to share it too.  Let’s spread the word about the various mental illnesses together.  

delmonthMental Health Awareness Month: May Source

Mental Illness Awareness Week: 1st week of October Source

World Bipolar Day: March 30th Source

National Suicide Prevention Week: The Sunday through Saturday surrounding World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th.  Source

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week: February 26-March 4th  Source 

National Autism Awareness Month: April Source

ADHD Awareness Month: October Source

PTSD Awareness Day: June 27th Source

National Recovery Month: September Source

National Anger Awareness Month: December Source

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: October Source

National Codependence Awareness Month: January Source

Borderline Personality Disorder Month: May Source

National Bullying Prevention Month: October Source

Depression Awareness Month: October Source

OCD Awareness Week: 2nd Week in October Source

Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month: May Source

Self-Injury Awareness Day: March 1 Source

Schizophrenia Awareness Day: May 24 Source

ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) Day: September 12 Source

National Stress Awareness Month: April Source

Hoarding Day/ Week:October 20th in Washington Source May 14- 18th in UK Source

 

If I have left one out, please contact me at [email protected]  Put in subject line: Please add to Mental Health Awareness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: How to Slow Your Racing Mind by Charles Francis

Do you ever find it difficult to slow down your mind? For some of us, a racing mind is a serious problem. When we’re agitated, we have no control over our mind, and it becomes extremely difficult to meditate.

An agitated mind leads to stress and a whole host of health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. It even disrupts our relationships and sleep.

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to this problem. No matter how fast your mind is racing, you can learn how to cultivate a calm and serene mind, and the good news is that it’s a lot easier than you might think. The only catch is that you have to be willing to take a few simple suggestions.

Sources of Mental Agitation

Some people have the misconception that they need to calm their minds before they start meditating. They often think that they’re “the type of person” who just can’t sit still. Having a calm mind is not a matter of who you are, but rather what you do.

To understand why our minds get so agitated, it would help to understand a little about how they work. The primary mechanism by which we perceive the world is through our five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell). These are our receptors. They are connected to our brains and send us raw information about what is taking place around us at any given moment.

Each time our senses are stimulated, our brain reacts by trying to interpret the signals it receives and tries to determine the proper response. In other words, each stimulus triggers a thought, either conscious or unconscious.

There are four main sources of mental agitation: 1) Too many commitments, 2) background noise, 3) painful memories, and 4) worrying. There are short-term solutions for dealing with too many commitments and background noise. Painful memories and worrying will take more time to overcome, but they will resolve themselves through a regular meditation practice.

Too Many Commitments

Most of us are unaware that our daily activities are the primary sources of our mental agitation. Once we become aware of these sources, we can do something about them. So when people ask me how to stop their minds from racing, I tell them to start by taking their foot off the accelerator.

Some of us have too many commitments in our lives. Every waking moment of our day is packed with activities, and we never have time to rest. We all want to be productive because it gives us a sense of accomplishment and purpose. The problem with having too many commitments is that all the activities agitate our minds so much that it becomes increasingly harder to slow it down. This makes it harder to think clearly, therefore, lowering our effectiveness and productivity.

To address this problem, I suggest making a list of all your activities and commitments, including meditation. Remember that your spiritual development is important to your family’s happiness, because it will enable you to truly be there for them. Then prioritize your commitments according to how much they contribute to your and your family’s happiness, and give up the least important ones to make time for your personal needs, such as rest and meditation.

With many of our commitments, we have no choice in the short-run. We can’t quit our jobs or abandon our families, but we can consider more carefully what we truly need to survive and be happy. For example, do all our material possessions really make our family happier, or do they take us away from our loved ones? With mindfulness, we can determine the real sources of happiness and strive to incorporate them into our lives.

Background Noise

Background noise is another major source of mental agitation, and much of it is unnecessary. Often when we’re driving home after a busy day at work, we’ll turn on the radio in our car to help us unwind—all the while, still thinking about work or things we need to do at home, such as checking on the kids or making dinner.

When we get home, we might turn on the television while we settle in, not really paying attention to what’s on. We usually do this unconsciously to drown out the constant chatter in our mind. What we may not realize is that this background noise is agitating our mind even more, and when it becomes too much, we might pour ourselves a drink to help us relax.

Some people play the radio or television while they work, thinking this will help them concentrate. The reason this seems to help is because the extra noise prevents uncomfortable thoughts from rising to the surface, but the background noise only creates more agitation.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with watching TV or listening to the radio. The problem arises when we simply use them as background noise. Of course, we should also use some discretion concerning what we watch or listen to. Remember, whichever seeds in your mind you water, those will be the ones that grow.

I would suggest turning off the radio or television (or any other entertainment device) when you’re doing something else. This will help you concentrate on what you’re doing. Try it for a week. I think you’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.

The Calming Power of Mindful Breathing

Mindful breathing is a simple tool for keeping your mind from racing out of control. Practicing mindful breathing is very easy and doesn’t take long, and it will interrupt the acceleration of your mind. This will enable you to think with greater clarity, since you’ll have less mental agitation.

All you have to do is stop occasionally and take three to five mindful breaths. You don’t have to strain to concentrate on your breathing, but rather just pay attention to it.

Mindful breathing also has other benefits. It reminds us of what we’re trying to accomplish through our meditation practice, and it brings us back to the present moment, which is where reality is always taking place. You may want to post a reminder note somewhere you’ll see it throughout the day because it’s easy to forget.

Mindful Walking

Practicing mindful walking is also very easy. Most of us do a great deal of walking through our daily activities: at home, work, school, or when tending to our family’s needs. These are all wonderful opportunities to practice mindfulness, instead of allowing ourselves to get lost in our thoughts, many of which are either worrying or simply rehashing the same thoughts repeatedly.

When doing mindful walking, we generally walk more slowly than usual. Make your walking a smooth and continuous movement, while being mindful of each step. This can have a tremendous calming effect because it forces your mind to slow down.

As with mindful breathing, simply pay attention to your walking. With each mindful step, observe the sensation on your feet, the contraction of the muscles in your legs, or even the sensations of your clothes against your skin. Not only will this calm your mind, but it will also help you return to the present moment.

One of the best opportunities to practice mindful walking is to and from our vehicles. This is usually a time when we let our minds drift, or we get on our cell phones. Instead, why not use that time to practice mindful walking? You can even do a walking meditation session for a few minutes in a park or another quiet place.

Summary

An agitated mind can make it extremely difficult to sit and meditate for any length of time. Fortunately, there are some simple solutions. Once we become aware of the sources of our agitation, we can take measures to eliminate them. The main sources of mental agitation are: too many commitments, background noise, painful memories, and worrying.

To reduce some of the activities that are over-stimulating your mind, you can make a list of them and prioritize them according to how much they truly contribute to your and your family’s happiness and well-being. Then eliminate those activities that have low priority. Remember that your presence is important to your loved ones’ happiness, and you cannot be fully present if your mind is agitated.

When you incorporate mindful breathing and mindful walking into your daily routine, it will be a major step toward taking control of your mind by improving your ability to concentrate and staying in the present moment. There are also some powerful relaxation techniques to help your mind relax even further. Your life will become much more enjoyable because you will stop the mental agitation that is robbing you of your peace and serenity, and the harmony in your relationships.

Article written by Charles A Francis on Mindfulness Meditation Institute
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Guest Post: 7 Routines for Bipolar Disorder by Sibple

Building healthy routines is a cornerstone to maintaining stability in bipolar disorder. The right routines can help to reduce episodes of mania and depression. Routines help build structure to your day, reduce stress, and help you to remember things like taking medications on time. Creating new routines is a way to integrate new healthy habits and utilize coping skills in your day to day life. There is even a type of therapy geared toward identifying and building the right routines for you, it’s called Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy.

 SLEEP:

Sleep is one of the big ones. Sleep disturbance is even in the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder. Episodes of mania are marked with need for little to no sleep, whereas in depression many patients sleep excessively. Sleep deprivation can trigger a manic episode. Lack of sleep affects emotional regulation. Oversleeping can make depression worse.  Having an evening routine that is conducive to sleeping well will help create and maintain good sleep hygiene.

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 MEDICATION:

Not taking medication as prescribed can lead to a relapse of symptoms, hospitalization, withdrawal symptoms, and general chaos. There are many reasons that bipolar patients don’t adhere to taking their medication, either not at all, or skipping pills. Having a set time to take meds can help in remembering to take them, and to take them on schedule. A pill box is especially helpful. If you can’t afford your medication there are programs to help, you can find these online or your doctor may have information for you. If you are hesitating to take your medication due to side effects discuss this with your doctor. Never discontinue or alter dosage of medication without the approval and supervision of your mental health provider.

EATING:

Not eating regularly can affect your mental and physical health. Skipping meals can lead to low blood sugar, difficulty concentrating and eventual overeating. Many of us are already fighting weight gain as a side effect of medication and skipping meals doesn’t help because it messes with your metabolism. Eating on schedule helps to keep the hangry at bay.

HYDRATE:

Not drinking enough water can lead to headaches, low energy, lowered metabolism, overeating, dizziness and disorientation. Getting in the habit of drinking enough water on a regular basis is good for both mind and body.

EXERCISE:

Exercise helps reduce depression, has numerous physical benefits, and can help ease chronic pain. Regular exercise can also help reduce stress and promote restful sleep. Working exercise into to your daily routine can make it an automatic part of your day. Be careful not to overdo it, especially when manic.

SOCIALIZE

Social support and interaction is vital to mental health.  Making socializing part of your routine makes it a habit that your more likely to stick to even when you don’t feel like it. Fighting that urge to isolate is a lot easier if that phone call or that lunch date is part of your regular routine.

FUN

It’s hard work to manage bipolar disorder. Remember to take time to do things you love, something you look forward to. Hobbies can give you a sense of accomplishment. During times of apathetic depression, it will be easier to try to push yourself to try to do things you normally enjoy if that activity has been built in to your daily routine.

It’s hard to stick to healthy habits during an episode. The more ingrained and automated those habits are, the easier it will be to keep them up when things get hard. When you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. 

These are tips for helping to control symptoms and do not serve as treatment. It is important to speak to a mental health provider to establish the proper treatment plan for you.

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