A Tribute to Robin Williams

Posted on by Diane in Adult Therapy, Counseling, index, Mental Health | Leave a comment

Countless touching comments, stories, and memories of Robin Williams have been shared this week, and I feel compelled to write as well on a topic many struggle to discuss: suicide. I have personally been touched by three individuals I knew well who committed suicide, and in my practice treat individuals with suicidal thoughts; and family members who have been impacted by a loved one’s taking his or her own life, or attempting to. The aftermath is devastating and long-lasting.

Clinicians actively assess suicide from three distinct viewpoints: 1 — thoughts, which are more common than one would expect. 2 — a plan; does the person have a specific plan, and the means to carry out that plan? and finally 3 — intent. Does this person really intend to hurt themselves? A trained mental health professional knows the difference between suicidal thoughts (also called suicidal ideation); a thought with a plan, and a thought with intent, and a plan. Any thought to harm one’s self should be taken VERY seriously, with discussion about in-patient treatment.

Good, effective treatment for depression is available! Consult your primary care physician, your insurance company, mental health professionals in your area, on-line and community resources. Loved ones: you may have to help facilitate treatment for your family member or friend if he or she is deeply depressed; typically that person may not have the motivation or energy to navigate the often complicated mental health system.

The old adage that if a person mentions suicide, it is unlikely that they will actually commit the act is ABSOLUTELY WRONG! Any mention of suicide should be taken seriously, and dealt with immediately. Suicidal thoughts are an indication that depression may be moving from moderate to severe in intensity. Seek help right away.

Finally, for those of you who have lost a loved one, my heart weeps for you. Not only is there the loss of your loved one, but the thought that perhaps something more could have been done; perhaps a sign was missed, and opportunity not seen. My only thought is that perhaps the pain of this life is too much for some people; especially those who care and feel deeply. And that the soul is finally at peace.

And for Robin Williams: Nanu Nanu.

The Latest Statistics — Who is Normal?

Posted on by Diane in Counseling, index, Mental Health | Comments Off

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18 percent of the US population suffers from some kind of anxiety disorder, and additionally:

6 percent have Major Depression

2.6 percent have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder

1 percent Schizophrenia

On top of that, 4 percent of adults have ADHD; and 9 percent have some diagnosable personality disorder, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (often linked to trauma), Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Anti-Social Personality Disorder.

All that adds up to 40.6 percent of the US population.

There’s more. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 5 percent of the US population drinks heavily (that’s 15+ drinks per week for men, and 8+ drinks per week for women). 17 percent of the population binge drinks, 9.2 percent of the population uses some type of illicit drug, and 2.6 percent abuse psychotropic medications. If we add that to the 40.6 percent, it totals 74.4 percent.

These statistics do not include all the other categories of mental health diagnoses, including learning disabilities, pervasive developmental disorders (such as Autism), tic disorders, dissociative disorder, sleep disorders, sexual functioning disorders, neurocognitive disorders (such as dementia), paraphilic disorders, gambling, and eating disorders.

Now, it is common for individuals who suffer from mental illness to have what is called a “co-occurring disorder,” such as depression and anxiety, or anxiety with substance abuse. So, there is certainly some overlap in these statistics. However, these statistics are still staggering!

Let’s say that 25 percent of people with a mental health diagnosis also use substances to self medicate. That still leaves 66 percent of the US population with some kind of mental health or major substance abuse issue. That’s two out of three people. Could this be true?