Psychiatric Patients Have Their Reasons

Middle-aged brunette woman yelling with strings attached to face

Psychosis Or Personality?

When it comes to understanding psychiatric patients, many times it can prove to be quite a challenge; their behaviors leave you scratching your head, “is it their psychosis or are they just being oppositional?” Sometimes it’s fairly obvious that a patient is so psychotic that their behavior suffers as a consequence. But then there are times when it’s hard to tell whether their improved psychotic symptoms are still contributing to their behavior, or they are being oppositional.

Patients have many reasons for being oppositional:

  • They don’t like the psychiatrist or the treatment team
  • They don’t believe that they have a mental illness
  • They don’t like taking medications
  • It’s simply their personality
  • They’re angry at the world and are taking it out on the treatment team

. . . and the list goes on. Sometimes you’ll never understand a psychiatric patient’s behavior. And many times, you will never be able to discern between psychosis and personality, because they’re often intermixed. This is when the field of psychiatry becomes challenging and even frustrating for many clinicians.

It’s like a child or significant other who starts changing their behavior in a negative manner; they leave you wondering at what point did something go wrong! And you continue to gently probe and offer your assistance and guidance, only to be shut down with resistance and oppositional behavior.

Becoming frustrated in the field of psychiatry comes with the job, but the frustration must always be concealed from the patient and dealt with privately. Showing a patient that you are frustrated will influence the therapeutic alliance, almost always in a negative, counterproductive and potentially destructive way.

The solution is patience, dedication and professionalism. You will not always understand the behavior of a patient and that’s okay! As long as you continue working with them in a safe, professional, caring and compassionate fashion, then that’s what matters most! Psychiatric patients have a very good eye for being able to tell which clinicians are kind, honest and caring, and which are in it for other reasons.

The stigma that revolves around “he’s crazy” or “she has lost it” is something that we need to eliminate. These kinds of statements only promote division, hatred and more suffering, and these are the last things that patients need; especially patients who are mentally ill! Don’t add to the stigma.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Coping With Anxiety Without Medications

Man with an anxiety disorder hugging himself next to his shadow on wall

Fighting Anxiety Naturally

You walk into a psychotherapy appointment or on a tennis court with good intentions, when all of a sudden your mind sprinkles anxious symptoms all over you. For someone who has never experienced anxiety, this may be quite frightening: worry, fear, uneasiness, on edge, constantly touching your hands or face or feeling like something bad is going to happen.

For a seasoned veteran suffering from anxiety, the symptoms listed above are nothing new; just more pain to suffer but grow from. For many, medications are used to control anxiety, especially panic attacks. Medications such as antidepressants take at least 4-6 weeks for you to see a difference in your anxiety, and even then it’s no guarantee.

Nothing is a guarantee when it comes to mental illness. Don’t get me wrong, medications work great for anxiety! But you just have to make the choice of wanting to be on one or not. Remember that no medication is free of side effects. Your typical SSRIs commonly cause sexual dysfunction such as delayed ejaculation, anorgasmia, reduced sexual desire and more.

But it doesn’t mean that you will experience sexual side effects if you get started on an SSRI, but it’s definitely worth being informed about them! The other solution of battling anxiety is fighting it naturally, such as going through psychotherapy, performing mindfulness in your free time, praying or just experiencing the symptoms enough times that you eventually adopt a good control over them.

When you decide to take the natural route, you will notice that it’s a much more rocky and unpredictable road: the symptoms can return at anytime and you must be prepared to deal with them. When on medications, the symptoms tend to be much better controlled in the long run.

But the risk of experiencing side effects from antidepressants does not outweigh the benefits in many peoples’ eyes. So they rely on beating anxiety naturally. But “beating” is the wrong word because you will never beat a mental illness, you will just learn how to be in better control of it! And being in better control may mean never experiencing the symptoms ever again.

You won’t “beat” it because there is no cure for any mental illness; there is no magic formula or special medication which eradicates the mental illness from your mind. There is no talk therapy which does that either! The illness is multifactorial: genes, altered levels of neurotransmitters, unconscious conflicts, personality, receptor damage 2/2 alcohol or drug use, etc.

Your goal should not be to “beat” your mental illness. No . . . your goal is not that. Your goal is to live a happy life and not allow your mental illness to take that away from you!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Depressed And Demented

Elderly woman with dementia sitting on wheelchair near houses and stone driveway

Ambien And Dementia

Understanding what an elderly person with dementia is going through is like trying to understand what it feels like to slowly lose your memory for good. Imagine forgetting to turn off the stove or driving to the supermarket and ending up across town by a bridge which you have never seen before!

Try to imagine what it would feel like to be living in your last years of life with memory loss. Not only is your life coming to an end and are unconsciously worrying whether you have lived a productive and meaningful life, but your memory is also slowly fading away. And imagine feeling confused and forgetting details related to everyday situations.

Imagine performing an activity with a person one day and almost forgetting about it the next; “what was it that we did yesterday?” Patients with dementia do not forget as much autobiographical information as they do with recent activities that were just performed. Ask them where and when they were born and they will most likely be able to provide you with that information.

Ask them what they had for breakfast and they will give you a blank stare! On top of that, 1/3 of patients with dementia suffer from depression. Let’s sum this scenario up:

  • Elderly knowing that your life is soon coming to an end
  • End of life worries regarding having lived a prosperous and fulfilling life
  • Confusion about everyday events
  • Memory loss about everyday events
  • Depression

How would you feel if you experienced the above scenario? In addition, many patients with dementia may be prescribed psychotropic medications despite contraindications. For instance, Prozac and Zoloft may cause fractures and falls in the elderly. Antipsychotics increase the risk of death in patients with dementia, and benzodiazepines increase the risk of falls in the elderly.

Ambien or Zolpidem is a “Z-Drug” or sleeping medication used for insomnia. It is known to cause cognitive impairment and amnesia as side effects. Consider a patient with dementia who is suffering from insomnia, and who is prescribed Ambien by their physician. Not only is this patient losing their memory, but they are now taking a medication that worsen’s their cognition!

One would argue, “no physician in their right mind would prescribe a demented patient a medication that does that!” But is it really that hard to believe? Just because someone went to medical school and received an MD or DO degree, does not mean that they are a competent physician!

Overall, we need to be understanding and compassionate in regards to what patients with dementia are going through; especially family members who understandably lose patience with their loved ones. Consider the symptoms mentioned above and try to put yourself in their shoes.

I don’t think you’ll be going to sleep tonight dreaming of that scenario!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Marijuana For Anxiety

Person holding marijuana joint in front of tree and body of water

Can Marijuana Help With Anxiety?

Marijuana is an interesting drug due to its intoxicating effect on the human mind. Many people swear by the fact that marijuana alleviates their anxiety by relaxing and calming them down. But others would argue otherwise, claiming that marijuana exacerbates their anxiety to the point of inducing panic-like symptoms.

But without randomized-controlled trials, we cannot assume that marijuana is efficacious for anxiety disorders. But that does not mean that we should discount the many user reports circulating around about marijuana’s positive effect on anxiety. If marijuana does alleviate anxiety, how does it do that?

We know that THC, the intoxicating chemical found in marijuana, binds to CB1 receptors in the brain and CB2 receptors in the periphery. We also know that there are two strains of marijuana: indica which produces more of a body high and sativa which produces more of a head high.

Which strain alleviates anxiety more depends on the user. Many would attest that indica highs do a better job at alleviating anxiety, because the high is more directed towards the body. This results in a lesser head high and potentially less anxious symptoms. On the other hand, sativa may exacerbate anxiety in users because it mainly provides a head high.

What is a typical user experience on marijuana that leads to less anxiety? If you’re feeling on edge, worried and anxious, within the first 5 minutes of inhaling marijuana, the user will feel their state of consciousness slowly being altered. The feeling is a sense of mental relaxation with the perception of slowed time.

The user also becomes more aware of their bodily sensations and their surroundings; everything becomes more alive and interesting to the senses. Because of this, it may take away the user’s focus on their anxiety symptoms; their attention becomes redirected to other activities which become more interesting, such as music and movies.

But what about a user’s experience with marijuana exacerbating anxiety? The anxious symptoms can escalate within a few minutes of inhaling or later on in the journey. The anxious symptoms can be quite severe, to the point of inducing a panic state or the thought of “losing one’s mind.”

An example of anxiety while on marijuana may include something of this sort: you’re standing in your kitchen high and eating a delicious delicacy. Your taste buds are on fire while you slowly allow your masticatory muscles to chew away your small piece of heaven. But all of a sudden, out of no where, your perception of you standing in place and eating becomes magnified and blown out of proportion!

There is way too much unnecessary focus by your mind on your current situation: your posture, your chewing, your bodily sensations such as your heart rate and breathing, and your thoughts. The next thing you know, you’re starting to experience anxious thoughts: “oh my god, I’m freaking out! I feel uncomfortable. Something bad is going to happen! I wish I could end this high!”

And that’s how one potentially experiences a panic attack while under the influence of marijuana. Therefore, we do not yet know if marijuana is a good medicine for anxiety. For some people it works wonders, while for others, it wreaks havoc! Until we have conclusive RCT results, we can only go by user reports.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Weaponizing Mental Illness

Young girl sitting on sofa and checking social media on MacBook air with headphones on

Social Media Linked To Depression In Girls

The weaponization of mental illness is not a topic which you hear often; as a matter of fact, you almost never hear about it. That’s because to believe that there is a covert agenda to weaponize mental illness sounds outlandish and even extreme. Who would think of doing that and what would be the reason for it?

One interesting connection that can be made is the use of social media. New studies are revealing that the more frequently children and teenagers check their social media accounts (3 times per day is considered high), the higher their risk of developing depression. This is because a higher frequency of social media use results in poorer sleep, distractions from academics, sports and in-person relationships, cyberbullying and less physical exercise.

The evidence is demonstrating that social media use impacts girls more than boys. Girls are more likely to be emotionally affected by cyberbullying and are more prone to developing depression. It’s believed that depression is more common in females because of the sex steroid known as estrogen; it’s not clear why estrogen increases the risk of depression.

Taking away your children’s cell phones and access to computers is not a realistic solution in this day and age. But some possible solutions include:

  • No tech use in the bedroom at night
  • Teaching your children from a young age to focus more on academics and sports
  • Teaching your children about the dangers of social media use
  • Teaching your children discipline and balance
  • Setting a good example as a parent by not using social media that often

But what does this have to do with weaponizing mental illness? While a stretch, it’s always good to think outside the box and keep an open mind. Social media may be the platform that is relied upon by a covert organization to consistently contribute to the development of a mental illness, especially in children and adolescents.

By utilizing social media to cause mental illness in the masses, this tool helps to mentally destabilize the population, contributing to violence, mass shootings, hatred, division and suicides. Because there is no way on Earth that nature would contribute to mental illness, the only ways that a covert organization would increase mental illness is by technology and the reliance on genetic mutations.

How surprised would you be if scientists discovered that more than 1 hour of screen time per day would cause brain changes and genetic mutations, that would lead to the development of a mental illness? Would this be considered the weaponization of mental illness?

People are more prone to make irrational and impulsive decisions when suffering from a mental illness, especially when not medicated or under-medicated. And rather than relying on genetics for the development of mental illnesses in the masses, an environmental trigger must be created and utilized for fast results.

Is that where social media comes into play? Once again, this connection between social media and the weaponization of mental illness has absolutely no basis in the scientific literature. This is simply an idea worth entertaining, especially for those folks who keep an open mind to things and enjoy thinking outside the box.

If you’re not one of them, then forget that you ever heard of the weaponization of mental illness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Lost Opportunities

Disappointed man with long brown hair looking out of window

Your Daily Mental Battles

One of the worst feelings in life is when you have been presented with an opportunity and you failed to capitalize on it. The pain that follows is like an emotional bee sting, except one-hundred times more painful. It tends to linger for hours on end, sometimes even into the next day. Nobody enjoys lost opportunities, but is there anything that we can do to avoid the pain that is associated with them?

It depends on what you consider a lost opportunity. For every person, an opportunity may be interpreted differently. But it really does not matter if somebody else does not understand your lost opportunity, because to you it feels very real. Your job is not to convince someone else about your lost opportunity; it’s to find a way to either avoid the pain or to deal with it in a healthier way.

When we miss out on an opportunity, we often feel guilty, weak, worthless, annoyed, hopeless, desperate, angry and sad. Sometimes the emotions may become unbearable, killing all of our motivation and ruining our day as a result; this is the worst case scenario. When you allow this to happen, you are only worsening your mental health by unnecessarily stressing yourself out.

The reality is that there is no way to prevent lost opportunities. You can always tell yourself, “I’ll do this next time and it won’t happen again! I’ll actually act on it!” This kind of positive thinking may be helpful, but realistically speaking, it won’t be applicable on every occasion. There is no way to control how you will think and feel when your next opportunity will present itself.

Remaining optimistic is definitely the way to go, but just know that on any given day you may not be on top of your game, and that is when an opportunity might present itself. What will happen is that you will once again miss it, resulting in your unhappiness. Therefore, prevention of missed opportunities is not the solution.

The solution is to simply not care that much when you do miss out on an opportunity. Yes, the experiences will hurt and you will feel some kind of negative emotions within yourself. But the key is to handle them in a mentally healthy way, and allow them to pass swiftly without any lingering.

Don’t bury your emotions because they will not go away in the long run; they will resurface again in the near future. Burying your emotions is only delaying your processing of them. You have to find a way to train your mind to not be as negatively affected by missed opportunities. Rewire your mind along the lines of, “Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be even though I really wanted it to be. Next time I guess. I’m going to enjoy the rest of my day now!”

Don’t waste unnecessary energy beating yourself up because you didn’t capitalize on an opportunity. Just remember that things always happen the way their meant to happen, even if you feel otherwise! Move on and remain optimistic that you will capitalize on the next one!

And don’t think so much about it. Just go with the flow.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Psychedelic Momentum

Psilocybin magic mushroom growing in nature

Psilocybin On The Horizon

The first US center for psychedelic research has opened up at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. For over 50 years, psychedelics have been outlawed by the U.S. government and classified as schedule I drugs. Schedule I drugs are regarded as having no medical benefits as per the federal government. Some of these include marijuana, MDMA, heroin and peyote.

This is very exciting news, as just recently the FDA granted psilocybin breakthrough therapy designation for major depression. Psilocybin is the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms or “magic mushrooms.” They have been used for thousands of years by indigenous tribes in South America and by Native Americans in the U.S., for spiritual, medicinal and mystical experiences.

It is not yet known how psilocybin works on the brain and how it potentially helps depressed patients. It is thought that it rewires the brain circuits by shutting down bad connections and sprouting new good ones. Consider this analogy: a person living in the financial distract of Manhattan does not have too much contact with people in the upper west side. But if consistent contact were to be made, a potentially new fruitful connection could be established, benefiting people from both places.

It’s also believed that the actual psychedelic experience of hallucinations in a controlled therapeutic environment, helps patients to confront their demons, resulting in the alleviation of their pain and suffering. This method is much different than your conventional antidepressants, which provide no mystical experiences and take up to 4-6 weeks for therapeutic effects to be noticed.

Psychedelics were once used in the field of psychiatry back in the 1950s, until they were classified as schedule I drugs in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act. Psychedelics were never meant to leave the laboratory, but they were unfortunately introduced to the masses, sparking the Hippie movement which glorified the use of psychedelics. In return, this motivated the U.S. government to outlaw the sacred compounds.

These new times are much more promising for the use of psychedelics. The hope is that the evidence will be present in regards to establishing therapeutic value for mental health disorders. Any new tools which can help alleviate the mental health suffering of millions of people around the world, is a step in the right direction!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Maintaining Sound Mental Health

Young brunette woman smiling in bed after taking day off from work

Utilize Your Paid Personal Days

Many people feel guilty at the thought of utilizing the personal days which their employer has provided them with. Just the thought of “skipping work” to stay at home and lounge, relax or catch up on some sleep makes their skin shrivel. But that’s what personal days are for! You do not need to be sick to enjoy some time off.

Fatigue is just as destructive or more destructive than your common cold: it affects your state of mind, motivation, drive, ambition, happiness and mood. When you become fatigued, you become less efficiently productive at work: you make more errors; you lose your drive and you become more irritable with those around you.

You are not doing anything wrong by utilizing your paid personal days. As long as it’s stated in your work contract that you have X number of personal days, then you are in a perfectly acceptable position to utilize them. Often times, it’s the guilt and fear which prevent us from going forward with it.

Don’t overwork yourself to the point of feeling burned out, or even worse, fatigued and depressed. Your health always comes first! Suicidal thoughts are definitely connected to being overworked as an employee. When all you do is wake up bloody early, work the entire day and come back home crashing on the couch, this repetitive lifestyle will eventually take a toll on your sanity.

Always put your mental health first before anything else. If you are currently working at a job which you don’t enjoy because of your mental health, then you must reconsider your work options. Don’t risk your sanity, or even worse, your life for a job. Maintaining a happy state of mind is much more important than maintaining a current job.

Take some personal days off and maintain sound mental health!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Laughter Can Save You

Young brunette woman laughing while on bed reading magazine

We Made Each Other Laugh And Smile

What is laughter and why do we even do it? Some people laugh at funny things while others laugh due to pain and misery. Some also laugh due to mental illnesses such as Pseudobulbar affect, Alzheimer’s dementia, Frontotemporal dementia or even schizophrenia. Clearly, laughter is not always associated with happiness and amusement. But when it is, it’s one of the most potent treatments we have against mental illness and life dissatisfaction.

But then there are the people who are always observed to be miserable and never observed to be laughing. They hold onto their negative emotions so firmly that they become miserable inside; their fury prevents them from enjoying a few good laughs. These are the people who also develop a shorter life expectancy.

Life is not meant to be taken so seriously; if it were, we’d be doing slave labor day and night. But God gave us free will to laugh and enjoy ourselves. He already handed us our punishments since the beginning of time: women must experience the challenge and pain of childbearing and men must grind for a living.

But these punishments are not meant to exclude a good laugh here and there. It is mentioned in the bible, “drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” No matter the pain or mental illness which you are experiencing and suffering from, remind yourself that you have already been given one of the greatest blessings of all time: the ability to experience life.

So why go through life being miserable and depressed? Learn how to develop a sense of humor and start to search for and discover the funny side of life. By being more open to humor, smiles, giggles and laughter, you will slowly start to experience a more warming and pleasant state of mind. Learning to connect with others via humor and laughter will also open more social doors for you.

More social doors means more opportunities to alleviate your mental suffering. Experiencing positive human interactions is another natural healer of the ill mind; medications should not always be relied upon. Laughing, humor and socializing often heal the ill mind much more effectively, than a couple of pills called Prozac and Celexa.

Are you laughing yet?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Worrying Can Kill You

Worried man sitting outside with hand on face

Worrying: A Catalyst To Mental Illness

The act of allowing your mind to dwell on difficulties, troubles or unnecessary thoughts promotes stress, fatigue and even the development of a mental illness. This act is called worrying and we do it all the time; day and night. If you are worrying a lot during the day, then you can bet that you are unconsciously worrying throughout the night.

Worrying is your mind becoming stuck in a repetitive loop that is focused on a certain set of thoughts; it’s very much tied in to anxiety. But it doesn’t mean that you have anxiety if you are constantly worrying. It can just be a bad habit which you have developed secondary to your life circumstances.

People who live in urban environments are especially prone to worry about many different things. This has to do with living a fast-paced life, environmental stress, over-population, traffic and feeling rushed a lot of times. Whenever you are feeling rushed, you start to experience pressure regarding certain thoughts and behaviors.

For instance, you might feel rushed to leave your home in the morning and make it to work on time. In the process, you forget if you turned off the stove or closed the fridge from 5 minutes ago. So you go back and check them, but because you are in a rush, you end up worrying about your kitchen later on that day.

And this pattern of worrying may continue to get worse. Your worrying can even start encompassing new thoughts and behaviors; the more you feed into it, the more powerful your worries become. Worrying is also very much tied in to OCD. Once these thoughts become too negative to handle, they’re often followed by compulsions in order to alleviate them.

Excessive worrying, stress, anxiety and other symptoms can lead you to feeling suicidal. Your brain becomes overloaded with negative clutter, which distracts you from thinking clearly about your life. When you are distracted, other things in your life start to crumble; as those things go down, they also pull onto you to sink you down with them.

Keep your worries at a minimum. Often times, they’re actually never really needed.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)