Showing posts with label Health-Mental. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health-Mental. Show all posts

July 20, 2016

‘Real Men Don’t Cry’ *Learn to Recognize Depression

“Real men don’t cry.” It’s a saying that’s still all too common in American culture. And as the traces of a male-dominated past still hang on, men continue to feel pressured to live large, be strong and keep their feelings of sadness to themselves. But too often, that means men aren’t able to face their feelings, which can lead to depression, risky behaviors or explosions of anger.

Depression is not a sign of weakness. It’s a common health condition that affects people of all ages and circumstances, and it can have serious consequences.

In fact, it’s normal to suffer an occasional bout of the blues—especially in reaction to losses, setbacks and disappointments. But when intense feelings of despair threaten to derail you and begin to interfere with work, family and friendships, depression may be why.

But knowledge is power — and healing. So here are seven things you should know about depression in men:

1. It looks different.
Instead of becoming sad or withdrawn, men who are depressed might come off as angry, irritable and aggressive. They might work longer hours, participate in risky or unhealthy activities or become abusive. They might even develop physical symptoms, including back pain, headaches, sleep problems or sexual difficulties.

2. It’s often missed.
A lot of men don’t like to discuss their feelings, so it’s no wonder depression among them is so easily overlooked. Trouble is, if you don’t come clean about what you’re experiencing, a doctor may have to guess to come up with an accurate diagnosis. That means depression may go untreated, which can have serious consequences.

3. It’s often tied to sex.
Men with sexual problems are more likely to suffer from depression than those who aren’t experiencing challenges in the bedroom. What’s more, sexual dysfunction also tends to crop up as a side effect of common medications, including antidepressants.

4. Drugs may be the culprit.
In addition to causing sexual side effects, certain medications—both prescription and over-the-counter—can also cause depression. Alcohol, illicit drugs and even ill-timed caffeine can also contribute.

5. Seniors may be at higher risk.
Aging often comes with medical conditions and other stressors that are linked to depression. As men age, they may lose spouses, friends, income and even a sense of purpose. All of these factors can cause feelings of sadness.

6. Men are three to four times more likely to commit suicide than women.
Suicide is a real threat. If you’re struggling with difficult emotions, it’s important to seek help before feelings of despair become thoughts about ending your life. (Need help now? Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or 800-SUICIDE.)

7. The diagnosis of depression doesn’t have to isolate you.
Once diagnosed, there are plenty of things you can do together with your doctor to successfully manage depression and start living life on your terms once again. In fact, lifestyle strategies, including exercise, sleep and social support can go a long way toward helping you feel better.

If you’re feeling depressed, overwhelmed or anxious, get the help you need before your symptoms get worse. Talk honestly with loved ones, friends and your doctor about what’s going on in your mind and body. There’s no shame in sharing feelings of despair … it could be the first step to helping you feel better.

 If you’ve had thoughts about ending your life, reach out for help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
 Dr. Ali Dabaja is a urologist specializing in men’s health, reproductive medicine and sexual health with the Henry Ford Vattikuti Urology Institute.
To find a doctor at Henry Ford, visit or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).
For tips on eating healthy, staying active and managing your health and wellness, visit and subscribe to receive a weekly email with our latest posts.
This story is provided and presented by our sponsor Henry Ford Health System. 

August 28, 2015

NEW Automated Speech Analysis Can Identify Risks for Psychosis i.e.Schizophrenia


An automated speech analysis program correctly differentiated between at-risk young people who developed psychosis over a two-and-a-half year period and those who did not. In a proof-of-principle study, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, New York State Psychiatric Institute, and the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center found that the computerized analysis provided a more accurate classification than clinical ratings. The study, “Automated Analysis of Free Speech Predicts Psychosis Onset in High-Risk Youths,” was published today in NPJ-Schizophrenia.
About one percent of the population between the age of 14 and 27 is considered to be at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis. CHR individuals have symptoms such as unusual or tangential thinking, perceptual changes, and suspiciousness. About 20% will go on to experience a full-blown psychotic episode. Identifying who falls in that 20% category before psychosis occurs has been an elusive goal. Early identification could lead to intervention and support that could delay, mitigate or even prevent the onset of serious mental illness.
Speech provides a unique window into the mind, giving important clues about what people are thinking and feeling. Participants in the study took part in an open-ended, narrative interview in which they described their subjective experiences. These interviews were transcribed and then analyzed by computer for patterns of speech, including semantics (meaning) and syntax (structure).
The analysis established each patient’s semantic coherence (how well he or she stayed on topic), and syntactic structure, such as phrase length and use of determiner words that link the phrases. A clinical psychiatrist may intuitively recognize these signs of disorganized thoughts in a traditional interview, but a machine can augment what is heard by precisely measuring the variables. The participants were then followed for two and a half years.
The speech features that predicted psychosis onset included breaks in the flow of meaning from one sentence to the next, and speech that was characterized by shorter phrases with less elaboration. The speech classifier tool developed in this study to mechanically sort these specific, symptom-related features is striking for achieving 100% accuracy. The computer analysis correctly differentiated between the five individuals who later experienced a psychotic episode and the 29 who did not. These results suggest that this method may be able to identify thought disorder in its earliest, most subtle form, years before the onset of psychosis. Thought disorder is a key component of schizophrenia, but quantifying it has proved difficult.
This shows a “convex hull” polyhedron.
 For the field of schizophrenia research, and for psychiatry more broadly, this opens the possibility that new technology can aid in prognosis and diagnosis of severe mental disorders, and track treatment response. Automated speech analysis is inexpensive, portable, fast, and non-invasive. It has the potential to be a powerful tool that can complement clinical interviews and ratings.
Further research with a second, larger group of at-risk individuals is needed to see if this automated capacity to predict psychosis onset is both robust and reliable. Automated speech analysis used in conjunction with neuroimaging may also be useful in reaching a better understanding of early thought disorder, and the paths to develop treatments for it.
The authors are Gillinder Bedi, Facundo Carrillo, Guillermo Cecchi, Diego Fernández Slezak, Mariano Sigman, Natália B. Mota, Sidarta Ribeiro, Daniel C. Javitt, Mauro Copelli, and Cheryl M. Corcoran.
Funding: This research was supported by NIMH (K23MH066279; R21MH086125, R01MH049334), The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NIHUL1402 TR000040), the New York State Office of Mental Hygiene, NIDA (K23DA034877), and 403 FAPESP Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (grant 404 # 2013/07699-0, S. Paolo Research Foundation).
The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.
Source: Rachel Yarmolinsky – Columbia University Medical Center
Image Credit: The image is credited to IBM/Columbia University Medical Center
Original Research: Full open access research for “Automated speech analysis predicts later psychosis” by Gillinder Bedi, Facundo Carrillo, Guillermo A Cecchi, Diego Fernández Slezak, Mariano Sigman, Natália B Mota, Sidarta Ribeiro, Daniel C Javitt, Mauro Copelli and Cheryl M Corcoran in NPJ-Schizophrenia. Published online August 26 2015 doi:10.1038/npjschz.2015.30

Automated analysis of free speech predicts psychosis onset in high-risk youths
Psychiatry lacks the objective clinical tests routinely used in other specializations. Novel computerized methods to characterize complex behaviors such as speech could be used to identify and predict psychiatric illness in individuals.
In this proof-of-principle study, our aim was to test automated speech analyses combined with Machine Learning to predict later psychosis onset in youths at clinical high-risk (CHR) for psychosis.
Thirty-four CHR youths (11 females) had baseline interviews and were assessed quarterly for up to 2.5 years; five transitioned to psychosis. Using automated analysis, transcripts of interviews were evaluated for semantic and syntactic features predicting later psychosis onset. Speech features were fed into a convex hull classification algorithm with leave-one-subject-out cross-validation to assess their predictive value for psychosis outcome. The canonical correlation between the speech features and prodromal symptom ratings was computed.
Derived speech features included a Latent Semantic Analysis measure of semantic coherence and two syntactic markers of speech complexity: maximum phrase length and use of determiners (e.g., which). These speech features predicted later psychosis development with 100% accuracy, outperforming classification from clinical interviews. Speech features were significantly correlated with prodromal symptoms.
Findings support the utility of automated speech analysis to measure subtle, clinically relevant mental state changes in emergent psychosis. Recent developments in computer science, including natural language processing, could provide the foundation for future development of objective clinical tests for psychiatry.
“Automated speech analysis predicts later psychosis” by Gillinder Bedi, Facundo Carrillo, Guillermo A Cecchi, Diego Fernández Slezak, Mariano Sigman, Natália B Mota, Sidarta Ribeiro, Daniel C Javitt, Mauro Copelli and Cheryl M Corcoran in NPJ-Schizophrenia. Published online August 26 2015 doi:10.1038/npjschz.2015.30

June 14, 2015

[Alzheimer’s] I just Accept it for what it is, A Life Destroyer


Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.  Losing a parent to this is always hard on any child. To see a strong and healthy person go to sickness is never easy , and even harder on a living spouse. . The medicines have come a long way fighting this. They have made some great advances for this cause.   Learning the ten signs is a good place to start.
1. Memory loss that effects daily life.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and partial relationships
6.  New problems with words in speaking or writing
7.  Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8.  Decreased or poor judgment
9.  Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality

 The signs are sometimes very subtle in the beginning and hard to see. These will increase in frequency and strength of occurrence. I did not notice them at first as most children do not spend the time required to see it.  My mom was the first to say something to me about dad’s behavior. 
With early detection, you can:
Get the maximum benefit from available treatments – You can explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer. You may also increase your chances of participating in clinical drug trials that help advance research. There has been huge strides with the use of THC for the treatment.

  Alzheimer's worsens over time. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions. 

  Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer's are 65 and older. But Alzheimer's is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer's (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s. This is where i come into . I was diagnosed with it at 42 years of age. So I had experienced my dad's battle with it, after watching my Aunt suffer thru it before passing. Only to discover I would also be Experiencing it for myself . I have seen no need in telling my Family. I was never very close with my siblings. I am sure they hold me distance against me. I only did it to protect myself from what was coming to me in the years coming now. 

  My parents where always distant after I moved away from home. I was at some distance so its progression was not easily evident to me. My mother was seeing it and living it more and more each day I would try with medical advice about the latest for dad. I know because I am looking into it for myself. Dad’s mental state became important to me in relationship what mine own would be.

 I educated myself on Alzheimer’s to help mom and learn more with dad’s condition. As I age it will become more beneficial for to me as well.  I would recommend as a good place to begin your journey with it.  It’s very beneficial for the patient and the caregiver.  In most cases the caregiver if it’s a family member they will suffer more thru the illness than the afflicted  They have a good memory in most cases, and they bare the memories of watching their loved one slowly fading away.

Alzheimer's disease typically progresses slowly in three general stages — mild (early-stage), moderate (middle-stage), and severe (late-stage). Since Alzheimer's affects people in different ways, each person will experience symptoms - or progress through Alzheimer's stages - differently.   The mild was hardly noticeable with dad but moderate you could tell it was affecting him. The ‘late stage’ took it out of my mom and those caring for him. Fate seeing it as it progressed. I started to notice the mild stage setting in with myself. My friends noticed it first and ask me to get checked since running in my Fathers’ family. My father makes the second to pass from that family tree of Alzheimer’s..  Watching my dad suffer with it has shown me my own future with it. I have not learned to deal with it, but how to accept it for what it is.

 Alzheimer’s affect more than just the afflicted, it affects the whole family. It takes a lot out of those caring for the patient in the last stage. The final stage requires 24 hour care. If this is left to the remaining spouse it can be difficult. Alzheimer kills more than just one patient it can destroy the whole family. Some times it will bring a family together other times it pushes them apart. I want each one to know this sickness affects more than just the patients of it. This sickness touches all who help or even know the patient. Family members can help the patient sometimes, other times confuse them even more.

There is no correct answer to dealing with it as a family unit.  Notice the little things, does your presence only add confusion to the patient that day? If so it is best not to be there.  Please educate yourselves on dealing with this. You as the surviving members of the family are the ones aware of everything that is going on and have memory of how things use to be.  The patient is the lucky one, they are the ones in the limbo of life. But those memories will accompany you for the rest of your life. Enjoy your time with the patient. Do not waste it trying to get them to remember something from your past. It only hurts the patient for a family member to ask “daddy do you remember me?”.  May be he/she will say yes the first time but to ask him over and over and to try and force him to remember, this only is adding confusion to an already confused live.

    If you find yourself in the situation to have a parent dealing with Alzheimer, Do your research on all the drugs available. Marijuana is showing better results than already used drugs for Alzheimer. Read the stories of people that went thru it with their love ones. Look at all options and weight out the effects on the patient. The patient is the important part and at the end they will not know you anyway. This is what the sickness takes. It can take all those memories you had over the years and it replaces them with just one “my father did not know me." This can be as harmful as the sickness to a healthy person. Do not let it replace your good ones for the bad ones of the final stage. So in short let Alzheimer's affect those that it does, but do not let it effect your mind if you do not suffer from it. It can cause damage for you that will last as long as you live. It can build resentments, it can destroy bridges and build walls. It can build huge voids  where there used to be memories for you.

Jeremy Hale


Jeremy Hale is a Facebook Moderator
 for adamfoxie blog International 
(west Coast)

November 12, 2014

Robin William’s Death Possible Cause for Suicide

 Robin Williams' suicide may have been triggered by a disease called Lewy Body Dementia, which caused him to suffer hallucinations, according to US reports.
The actor was not under the influence of illegal substances or alcohol at the time of his death on August 11, a coroner ruled last week, and his cause of death was found to be suicide.
But now sources tell website TMZ he was suffering from Lewy Body Dementia, a common form of dementia which causes you to have hallucinations, and they reportedly believe that's what could have triggered his suicide.
The site obtained documents confirming the Mrs Doubtfire actor suffered from the disease, and sources reportedly said it could have been a "key factor" in his death.

MAIN American actor/comedian Robin Williams poses for photographs in Sydney, Dec. 5, 2011
Back in 2011
Lewy Body Dementia is associated with both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and can cause hallucinations for some Parkinson's sufferers, like Robin, by disrupting the normal brain function.
A friend of Robin's previously told how he believed the drugs he was taking for Parkinson's played a part in his death.
Actor Rob Schneider took to Twitter in August to make the claim, and it was revealed that he "was not yet ready to share publicly" his struggles with the incurable and debilitating illness.
The Grown Ups star posted: "Now that we can talk about it. Robin Williams was on a drug treating the symptoms of Parkinson's. One of the SIDE-EFFECTS IS SUICIDE! (sic)”n  
Robin's spokeswoman denied the rumours that his family feel his medication had "pushed him over the edge", according to the Mail on Sunday newspaper at the time.
Robin's rep declined to comment when Mirror Online contacted them.
A coroner said he had four drugs in his system - two anti-depressants and two caffeine compounds.
The report in to his death said when authorities found his body they found a closed bottle of Seroquel, a drug that treats schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and depression, close by.
It was prescribed a week before he died.
For emotional support contact Samaritans on 08457 909090 or click here.

June 7, 2014

WE Don’t know what your Dreams mean but we know what nightmares tell about your health


Your plane is going down; someone is stalking you but you can't make your legs move; your house is on fire and there's no way out. GAAAAAHHH! Nightmares are often the result of normal things like garden-variety stress — or they could be a signal of a physical health issue.

The Anatomy of Dreams

All dreams occur during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is essential to mental health. "You need REM sleep to integrate current emotional material into long-term memory," explains Patrick McNamara, associate professor of neurology, Boston University School of Medicine. In other words, your brain uses dreams to make sense of what you experience every day.

"If you disrupt REM sleep, whether through respiratory problems, intense hormonal changes or stress, that emotional content just sits there and irritates the brain. You get nightmares as a result," notes McNamara. These dark dreams usually occur later in the night, and women get them more often than men.

In general, you shouldn't worry about the content of your nightmares, says McNamara. Lots of people have bizarre dreams. But if you are having nightmares often, talk to your doctor. Most times they are a result of stress, anxiety, certain medications, family history, and hormonal changes. However, other more serious issues could be the cause. 

      4 Health Conditions That Cause Nightmares


A 2003 Swedish study discovered that in elderly men and women, increased nightmares were associated with an increase in irregular heartbeats, as well as spasmodic chest pain. That same study also found that the occurrence of chest pain and irregular heart beats increased in 40- to 64-year-old women with frequent nightmares and poor sleep. The occurrence of spasmodic chest pain was further increased after menopause.

Most heart attacks occur in the early morning when REM is occurring, because REM places stress on the body. "When we switch into REM sleep, our breathing becomes more rapid, irregular, and shallow, our eyes jerk rapidly in various directions, and our limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed," says the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and males develop penile erections. When people awaken during REM sleep, they often describe bizarre and illogical tales."

So it's not the nightmares that are causing physical stress but rather the REM sleep, which in turn causes the nightmares.

"REM sleep is a stressor because it is stimulating your amygdala, the part of your brain responsible for emotions. Combine this overactive amygdala with poor cardiac health, and you are much more vulnerable to having a heart attack. It's as if a person with cardiac problems is riding up a hill. It makes the autonomic nervous system overreact," says McNamara. (Except in this one instance, nightmares cannot physically harm you.)

(MORE: 7 Ways to Get a Good Night's Sleep)


Three recent studies published in The Lancet Neurology have shown that people with REM sleep disorders who experience intense nightmares that manifest physically during sleep (ie: screaming, crying, punching, and kicking) are at risk for developing Parkinson's Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Healthy people experience a paralysis during REM sleep. People with Parkinson's and related neurodegenerative disorders, however, lose the ability to maintain paralysis in REM sleep. This allows them to act out their dreams, which people who don't have neurogegenerative disorders generally cannot do.


A new English study found that children who suffer from frequent nightmares or bouts of night terrors may be at an increased risk of psychotic experiences in adolescence. "Our recent research that looked at being bullied and nightmares indicate that experiences during the day are still processed at night and this alters stress responses physiologically. Both of these have been related to increased risk of developing mental health problems," says Dieter Wolke, lead author of the study, Professor of Developmental Psychology and Individual Differences, The University of Warwick Department of Psychology.

However, we're not talking about the occasional nightmare: Parents should be concerned when the nightmares occur regularly — over months and even years, adds Wolke.


If your nightmares are increasing and the content is often about not being able to breathe, have your healthcare professional check you for sleep apnea, a chronic condition that occurs when you have pauses in your breathing or shallow breaths while asleep.

Sleep apnea wreaks havoc with your REM sleep due to lack of oxygen. Dr. William Kohler, medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute, Spring Hill, explains, "Patients have had terrifying dreams of drowning or suffocation. In reality, their airway is blocked off."

A recent study published in Sleep Medicine found that the nightmares disappeared in 91 percent of patients with sleep apnea who were treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.

May 30, 2014

Psychotic 20 yr Old Buys Gun to Probably kill, Mom Calls Police he’s Serving 15 yrs

(  Blaec Lammers is serving 15 years )

The parents of Blaec Lammers knew their 20-year-old son struggled with mental-health problems. He was on antipsychotic medications, when he wasn’t refusing to take them. Several times his parents had rushed him to the hospital for an involuntary, 96-hour psychiatric detention. It felt like a cycle without answer or end.
“Every conversation was, ‘What do we do about Blaec?’ ” his father, Bill Lammers, said from the family’s home in Bolivar, Mo.
Then, in November 2012, Blaec Lammers’s mother found a receipt for an AR-15 rifle in his blue jeans. Alarmed, she called police. Officers took him in for questioning. Blaec Lammers admitted to having homicidal thoughts and to buying two rifles with plans to shoot up a local movie theater and Wal-Mart, according to a probable-cause statement.
His parents were hailed as heroes. But today, as their son serves a 15-year prison sentence for his plot instead of getting the help they believe he needs, they are filled with doubt about their decision.
Now, Blaec Lammers’s parents look at therampage Friday in Isla Vista, Calif. — in which 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people despite a series of mental-health red flags in recent months — and wonder whether their son had been heading down that same tragic path. Last month, deputies in California visited Rodger for a wellness check after his mother found disturbing videos that he had posted on YouTube, but authorities found no cause to intervene.
“The million-dollar question: Had we not done anything, would Blaec have done that?” Bill Lammers said.
The elder Lammers sees this latest mass murder — perpetrated by another young killer with hints of mental illness — as a further sign of a broken mental-health-care system and the often private struggle of families dealing with mentally ill children. An estimated 20 percent of U.S. teenagers have some mental-health irregularity, including 10 percent who have some behavior or conduct disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“You don’t want to think your son, your own blood, is going to be a shooter, a mass murderer,” Bill Lammers said. “But you’ve got to face the reality that he might’ve been.”
His son’s arrest came at a fraught time. Four months earlier, in July 2012, James Holmes, 24, walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and fatally shot 12 people and wounded 70 others. One month after Blaec Lammers’s arrest, in December 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shot 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The mental states of both shooters have been debated, along with whether their families or doctors could have done more to prevent their achieving their destructive ends. Holmes’s attorneys have argued that their client is too mentally ill to face the death penalty.
Bill Lammers, who works as a health-care software consultant, was in New York City on a business trip when his wife, Tricia Lammers, called him on Nov. 15, 2012. It was a Thursday afternoon. She had just found the receipt from Wal-Mart. Their first thought was that their son was going to kill himself. Then, they worried that he might hurt others. They agreed she should call law enforcement authorities in their rural, southwestern part of Missouri.
The Lammers family knew the sheriff well. Deputies had been enlisted before to help with their son. A couple years earlier, Blaec had stormed out of the house after an argument with his parents. They tried coaxing him back, but he ran off across a field.
They warned the sheriff that Blaec was off his medication. A couple hours later, the sheriff pulled up to the Lammers home and dropped off their son. The sheriff and Bill Lammers stood in the yard talking. Bill Lammers was shocked that the sheriff wasn’t going to detain his son, at least until he calmed down. But the sheriff explained that he couldn’t arrest someone until he had done something to justify that action. “Then it’s too late,” Bill Lammers told the sheriff. “We’re trying to prevent something.”
Bill Lammers recalled that conversation as he watched recent news coverage of the Isla Vista killings. A sheriff in California was explaining that Rodger, appearing timid and polite, did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold. Rodger had not done anything, either.
“The mental-health system is totally broken,” Bill Lammers said. “Calling the police is the only option.”
Bill Lammers, 53, owns guns. He keeps them locked in a safe. He never let his son near them. He knew that Blaec should not be around firearms. So he was shocked when he learned that Blaec had bought two rifles from the local Wal-Mart.
He bought them legally. There was nothing in the standard background check to stop him. But, as Bill Lammers pointed out, this was the same Wal-Mart where his son filled prescriptions for his antipsychotic and antidepressant pills. It was also the same store where, in 2009, Blaec Lammers was found wandering the aisles carrying a butcher knife and wearing a Halloween clown mask. Deputies escorted him out of the store that time.
Bill Lammers said he does not support laws limiting the size of ammunition clips or restricting ownership of certain firearms. But he would like to see stricter laws to prevent someone with a history of serious mental illness — someone like his son — from buying firearms.
Even after police arrested Blaec Lammers, which was followed by a burst of national attention over a foiled mass-murder plot, his father never expected him to face serious prison time. Blaec Lammers, his father said, “was for the most part a peaceful, easy-going person.” In March 2014, after a bench trial, a judge sentenced Blaec Lammers to 15 years for first-degree assault and armed criminal action.
Bill Lammers said his wife has struggled with their decision to notify authorities in 2012. She expected her son to get a wellness check. He ended up giving a confession. She feels that she ruined her son’s life, Bill Lammers said. He struggles with their decision, too. “But isn’t that better than him killing 20 or 30 people?”
“We still have trouble accepting it,” he added. “It’s just like the parents out there in California.”

By Todd C. Frankel

May 19, 2014

The Value of Depression


There is a problem with the conventional wisdom about mental illness. The conventional wisdom is that mental illnesses are caused by chemical imbalances, genetic dynamics and brain abnormalities. That belief encourages people to ignore the meaning of the symptoms and deprives people of an opportunity to learn valuable lessons about themselves, lessons that can help them live more the way they want to live.
If you accept the conventional wisdom, you have no interest in exploring the meaning of the symptoms or listening to what they may have to tell you. Rather, you are encouraged to get rid of the symptoms as quickly as possible and pay no further attention to them. But what if those symptoms had important information for people, information they need in order to lead healthy, fulfilling lives?
If you believe in evolution and natural selection you would conclude that the symptoms must have some survival value, must be useful in some ways. Were they not useful, they would have been wiped away by natural selection a long time ago. After all, human beings have been evolving for about 30 million years, the estimated time since humans split off from the other members of the primate family. Any human faculty which has lasted for 30 million years must be useful to our survival and well-being in some way.
If that is true, let’s look at some of the symptoms of mental illness and see how they might be useful to us.
Here are the symptoms that are used to diagnose the most common mental illness – depression. (Yes folks, the symptoms that are listed below, and nothing else, are used by doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose clinical depression). You would think – considering the conventional wisdom about mental illness – that there was a more “medical” way of diagnosing depression, a blood test or brain scan. But no, the way it is diagnosed is the doctor, psychiatrist or other mental health professional asks the patient to give a self report on the following questions:
  • Have you felt sad or empty most of the day, nearly every day for the past two weeks?
  • Have you experienced a markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day for the past two weeks?
  • Have you experienced significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (a change of more than 5 % of body weight in a month) or increase or decrease in appetite nearly every day for the past two weeks?
  • Have you experienced insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleep) nearly every day for the past two weeks?
  • Have you experienced psychomotor agitation (jittery, jerky, jumpy stomach) or retardation (slowed down, sluggish, groggy) nearly every day for the past two weeks?
  • Have you felt fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day for the past two weeks?
  • Have you experienced feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day for the past two weeks?
  • Have you experienced diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day for the past two weeks?
  • Have you experienced recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide?
If the patient responds “Yes” to five or more of those questions and if those symptoms are causing significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning, the patient is diagnosed with clinical depression.
So if we assume that these symptoms must have some survival value, how might they be useful? What might be going on with a person who is experiencing these symptoms? It sounds as if s/he is very upset about something. Something is not going right in her life. Something is threatening her ability to live the way she wants to live, to love the way she wants to love, to work (express herself) the way she wants to work. Something precious has been lost. He is concerned about his life, where it is going. Is it the job, the relationship, the kids, the demands of parenting, his social status? He’s not going to live forever. Maybe he needs to do something about it.
It sounds as if s/he’s under a lot of stress or, perhaps shutting down after being under a lot of stress for a long time. Perhaps this is the body’s way of protecting itself from prolonged stress. There are worse things that could happen – a heart attack, a stroke, cancer. In fact, research has found a strong link between high levels of stress and depression.
This sounds like a wake-up call, a message that something is not right and something needs to be done about it. The bodymind is saying: “Stop doing what you’re doing. Stop focusing on the outer world, on other people, on your spouse, your clients. It’s time to quiet down, go inside, take a serious look at your life, get in touch with what is going on. Stop avoiding this by drinking, drugging, working, playing, sexing, competing, winning. You need to make some important decisions or, perhaps, accept what is true about you and your life and become more comfortable with it. You need to do some inner work.”
Perhaps this is a reaction to the loss of something that is very precious. It wouldn’t have to be the loss of a person, a job, financial security or a relationship. It might be the loss of youth, or certainty or a sense of comfort. If something precious has been lost, perhaps it would be healthy to spend some time experiencing the pain of that loss.
How could the painful experience of loss be helpful? If I believe that all human faculties which have survived through the 30 million years of human evolution have to be useful, that is an obvious question. And an answer that makes sense comes to me. Loss is useful because it tells me what is precious to me. It tells me in a visceral way what I want to protect and nurture and tells me in a very powerful way that I better do what I can to protect and nurture those precious things. Valuable information indeed.
What if depression is a state of being that forces people to take a look at their social relationships and that gives them impetus to do something about changing them? That is the hypothesis of Paul Watson, a behavioral ecologist at the University of New Mexico:
“It induces us to be attentive to the structure of our social network: Who has power? Who has what opinions? How do these opinions of different social partners interact to constrain or enable us to make changes in life? Depression may have a social planning function which helps us to plan active negotiating strategies in a sober, ruminative state so we can go out and actively negotiate ourselves into a better social position with the people who have power to help or hinder us.”
Edward Hagen, an evolutionary biologist, has a similar idea. In the ancestral situation, when humans lived in small hunter-gatherer tribes, depression may have had value in compelling other people in one’s life to make changes that were in one’s interest – to induce the members of one’s tribe to come to one’s aid. In his book Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore has a chapter entitled “Gifts of Depression”. Here is one of them:
“Depression grants the gift of experience not as a literal fact but as an attitude toward yourself. You get a sense of having lived through something, of being older and wiser. You know that life is suffering, and that knowledge makes a difference. You can’t enjoy the bouncy, carefree innocence of youth any longer, a realization that entails both sadness because of the loss, and pleasure in a new sense of self-acceptance and self-knowledge. This awareness of age has a halo of melancholy around it, but it also enjoys a measure of nobility.”
Medical researcher Antonio Damascio found that people who couldn’t feel bad couldn’t make good use of their reasoning powers. In his book Descarte’s Error, he describes his work with people who couldn’t process feelings because of lesions in the amygdalas of their brains. Not being able to feel bad, they were unable to make good decisions about their finances, business practices, relationships, etc. They might buy a stock and see that it was losing value. But, not feeling bad about it, they wouldn’t take any corrective action.
So I am suggesting that, when we experience the symptoms of depression, we would do well to spend some time and effort wondering about what has brought them on? Have I lost something that is valuable to me? Am I concerned about my life, my love relationships, my work, my ability to enjoy life and live the way I want to live? Am I concerned about myself, my ability to work effectively, to pursue a satisfying career, to maintain satisfying love relationships? Have I been under stress for a long time? If so, what is causing the stress response?
But wait a minute. Let’s not get too sanguine about this. Depression is associated with suicide. It is a very debilitating disease. Severe depression keeps people from doing any of the things that make life worth living – loving, working, playing, expressing, enjoying. Let’s be careful not to make light of a debilitating and dangerous state of being.
Yes, we need some balance here. Perhaps, depression is like many things which are good and useful in moderate amounts but dangerous and deathly in extreme amounts. Included in that list would be the stress response, alcohol, strychnine and water, among others. Perhaps what makes sense is to make a distinction between moderate depression and severe depression. Perhaps keeping severely depressed people from killing themselves, hurting others or falling into permanent disability calls for extreme measures – psychotropic drugs, treatment in psychiatric hospitals.
Balance makes sense. But that’s not where we are today. Today, more and more people respond to symptoms of moderate depression by ingesting antidepressant drugs, drugs which make it harder for them to experience the emotions and thoughts which might be valuable to them. Antidepressants are among the five most heavily prescribed drugs in the United States. People are going to psychiatrists and other doctors. The doctor asks them the nine questions. If they answer “Yes” to five or more of them, the doctor writes a prescription. There is no time spent exploring what might be going on in the person’s life or how they are responding to their lives that might explain the symptoms.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of taking off two or three days to spend in that kind of contemplation. But we could find some time during every day to quietly allow ourselves to experience what is going on inside. We could even take some vacation time or sick leave to spend several days on it, perhaps with the help of friends or a therapist.
If you decide to do that, here are some suggestions.
  • I would recommend that you find a psychotherapist to work with, somebody with whom you feel comfortable, who you sense will respect you and help you come up with your own answers. There is something healthy about being able to say things to another human being that you have not said to anyone else, to let your hair down and expose yourself, knowing that nothing you say or do will go out of the room. There is value in becoming more comfortable with the symptoms and looking for the meaning and potential usefulness in them. Becoming more accepting of what is true about yourself is profoundly healing. Therapists can help you do that.
  • I would recommend that you spend some time just sitting by yourself in quietness, perhaps using some of the simple relaxation or meditation exercises that you can find on the internet or in various books (my favorite is the mindfulness meditation of Jon Kabat-Zinn). Just sitting and noticing whatever thoughts or feelings come up and paying some attention to them – not necessarily hanging onto them or doing anything with them – just noticing them.
  • I would recommend that you do some things that are enjoyable – perhaps reading books or articles that you want to read and definitely getting some good exercise – running, walking, bicycling, swimming, skiing.
The bottom line is that I urge you to regard the symptoms, no matter how painful and debilitating, as a message of meaning, a message that contains valuable information that can help you live a healthier and more satisfying life. And I encourage you to make an effort to understand the meaning of the symptoms and to use the information they offer to live more the way you want to live.



May 9, 2014

Defining Depression on the LGBT Community


Lesbian, gay and bisexual populations have greater instances of mood and anxiety disorders than their straight counterparts, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Results of a recent study that looked at the "lifetime prevalence" of the disorders by sexual identity show that bisexual women have the highest rates of mood and anxiety disorders at 58.7 percent and 57.8 percent, respectively. They're distantly followed by lesbians at 44.4 percent and 40.8 percent, and gay men at 42.3 percent for any mood disorder and 41.2 percent for any anxiety disorder. Straight men have the lowest rates at 19.8 percent for mood disorders and 18.6 percent for anxiety.
Experts attribute the higher rates among LGB (information for transgender men and women wasn't readily available) to society discrimination, in large part.
"A society context of oppression leads to social and family alienation, reduced levels of social support, low self-esteem, and symptoms of psychological distress," a Riverside County LGBT Health and Wellness Profile reports.

In terms of support, 75.3 percent of LGB residents in California say they have someone available who loves them and makes them feel wanted, compared to 80.7 percent of straight people who say the same. And the state's gay men and lesbians experience psychological distress at 13.4 percent, which is nearly double the heterosexual experience at 7.6 percent.
That trend is reflected at the local level as well, especially regarding depression.
"The most prevalent mental health issue among LGBT residents in the Coachella Valley is depression," says Dr. Jill Gover.
As director of mental health services at The LGBT Community Center of the Desert in Palm Springs, Gover counsels and works with desert residents dealing with anxiety and mood disorders on a daily basis. In April, she addressed the issue among Riverside County residents in a speech, titled "Defining Depression: Metaphors and Stories," at a Mental Health Summit at CSU San Bernardino in Palm Desert.
Here's an excerpt of Gover's speech:
The symptoms of depression vary considerably, but the first thing to go is happiness. There is no more pleasure gained from what in the past had been pleasurable. And then other emotions follow: pervasive sadness, apathy, sense of humor, capacity for love, and loss of perspective. If your hair was always a bit thin and flat, now you're on the verge of balding. If you were always a bit pudgy, now you're obese. Perspective is gone, negative filtering rules, and everything is worse.
A clear diagnostic signal that you are depressed is when you feel bad most of the time. If it's distracting and uncomfortable, then it's a mild depression. If it's disabling to the point that you can't function, then it's a major depression. The DSM-V defines depression as the presence of five or more on a list of nine symptoms. But this clinical approach doesn't really do justice to the experience of depression. Most people can only describe it in metaphors — the rusting of an iron girder, the strangling of a tree by a vine, the disintegrating, soggy beams of a house foundation. It's a difficult diagnosis because it relies so much on metaphors to define it, and each person resonates with a different metaphor to describe this hellish descent into darkness.
Depression has been part of our human existence since the beginning of conscious thought. And perhaps it existed in animals before human beings were even on the planet. We know for a fact that the symptoms of depression were described by Hippocrates 2,500 years ago. So this is not a uniquely modern, 21st century disease. However, like skin cancer, the prevalence rate has escalated in recent times for identifiable reasons. The climbing rates of depression may be related to the consequences of modern life: a fast pace with constant demands of a technological world, alienation, the breakdown of traditional family structures, increased urban mobility which often leads to pervasive loneliness, the failure to find meaning and direction to life.
Stressors create vulnerability, and our first line of defense is to develop coping mechanisms to manage the stress – the psychological equivalent of sunblock and big hats. We must do two things to address depression: 1) change perspective, and 2) instill hope. No matter what therapeutic orientation, treatment model, psychotropic medication, or lifestyle intervention, the only way to successfully reduce depression is to change perspective and install hope. Not easy, but possible.
I once saw a young adolescent client who worked at a McDonald's in a city in the Bay Area riddled with gang violence. One night on her shift, two men burst in with automatic weapons and opened fire, Al Capone style, killing everyone in the restaurant at the time. My client dropped to the floor and played dead, which is how she was the lone survivor. When I first saw her in therapy she exhibited symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, high levels of anxiety, and depression. Her cognitive schema at that time was that the world was a dangerous place; others would hurt her, and she was a victim.
Little by little, we developed behavioral experiments to test out new beliefs: Was the world always a dangerous place? Were there some people who were safe and trustworthy? Could she see herself as resilient and resourceful, having had the presence of mind in the situation to play dead and thus survive? Long after the PTSD symptoms had subsided, the depression lingered. This young girl had had a crisis of faith in humanity. I encouraged her to write poetry to express her feelings. She wrote the most morose and morbid poems I've ever read. But it was through creative expression, in combination with community support, talk therapy, and anti-depressants, that she was able eventually to conquer the tenacious depression. She had to change her perspective and find hope for the future before she could truly heal from the psychological wounding of her ordeal. ...
No matter which metaphor we choose to define depression, we can all agree that the solution lies in a myriad of different approaches. No one single intervention will work for everyone, and ultimately it's the accumulation of many disparate techniques, strategies and models that synergistically repair the damage wrought by this condition. Medications, lifestyle strategies, alternative medicine, and a variety of different talk therapies combine to forge a formidable defense in the battle for wellness.
Depression today exists as a personal and societal phenomenon. To treat depression, we must understand the biochemistry of the brain, the subjective experience of a breakdown, and the evidenced based treatment that changes perspective and instills hope. We must continue the important epidemiological research that identifies which treatment works best for different populations, and different types of depression. ... Working together, we can find solutions and reduce suffering. Working together, we can extinguish the walking death quality of depression and return people to lives worth living.
Getting help
Counseling is available at The LGBT Community Center of the Desert for anyone struggling with depression and other mood and anxiety disorders. Contact Dr. Jill Gover at (760) 416-7899 or
Will Dean, Desert Outlook

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