To B Or Not To B: The Relationship Between B Vitamins, Depressive Symptoms and John Wayne Bobbitt

Friday, February 06, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Physical Health and Emotion

Folic Acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are critical for physical and emotional health. Those with severe deficiencies in this class of vitamins may have striking symptoms such as easy bleeding and bruising, pale skin, sore tongue or rapid hearth rhythms.  When levels are not low enough to maintain these symptoms, subclinical B vitamin deficiencies are often overlooked or misdiagnosed as mood disorders since health practitioners may be unaware of the psychological implications of low vitamin B.  

It's kind of complicated because there is more than one B vitamin that is critical for mental health, but I'm game if you are. Let's do this. (That's what she said.)...  continue reading

"Who Are You Calling Depressed, Assh*le?!" The Relationship Between Depression and Anger

Monday, February 02, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Depression

Depression is usually categorized by a lack of pleasure in things you used to enjoy, lack of energy, changes in sleep or appetite, trouble concentrating and worthlessness (see a full list of symptoms here in What Is Depression?) But there is one symptom that isn’t brought up as often because there is some taboo around it: anger. 

That’s right, all you non-depressed folks. The depressed population don’t just lay in bed feeling sad. There’s a whole slew of other stuff that goes with it. So do me a favor and don’t do something stupid like tell them to snap out of it, okay? If they could, they would. And if you mutter something of that nature, I will support them punching you. (Steps off soapbox.) 

Anyway, anger attacks are present in both obsessive compulsive disorder, and Major Depression and all three often occur together1. They are also common in anxiety, post-traumatic stress postpartum depression and other conditions like Borderline Personality Disorder. And if you get caught with PPD, PTSD, OCD, depression and anger, watch out. 

Good times. Fucking mother nature....  continue reading

"I Love You, I Hate This, SOMEONE HELP ME!" Caring for Caregivers

Friday, January 30, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

While caregiving can be rewarding, it also places a great deal of stress on those doing the caring. There will be days when you think, “I’m so glad I am able to care for mom and make her last years as comfortable as they can be.” And days when you are resentful of the fact that you have had to change your whole life and give up a good portion of your freedom to care for someone else. 

“I didn’t plan for this, mom. I need a life. I DESERVE A LIFE!” 

There are many costs of caring not the least of which is the emotional upheaval (more here in The Sexiness of Sadness). The grief from the loss of a life you thought you would have is another diversion on the roller coaster ride that is caregiving. And then there will be days you are downright depressed thinking about the future. “This is temporary. She will not be here forever.” And then you will feel even guiltier at the way you feel a tiny bit relieved at that last statement even as the grief threatens to tear you apart. 

And for people who care for a living — such as nurses, physicians and mental health professionals — the cost of caring can be emotional exhaustion and similar types of chronic stress. Most therapists didn’t go into the industry to do paperwork or deal with bureaucracy. Most nurses didn’t get into it for the charting. The amount of time spent on such things can be disheartening for those in the field, along with the strain of constantly seeing others in so much pain. 

Caregiving is not easy and it takes it’s toll on the people who do it, both professionally and otherwise.  There are things we can do about it (and check out the books under "Find Support and linked at the bottom of the post as well).  But first we need to talk about it. ...  continue reading

Anxiety versus Depression, Nature Versus Nurture, and Monkey F*cking Emails

Monday, January 26, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General


Emails are fun. Take this one for example, which started out with: "Why the fuck do you talk about monkeys all the time?"

It's a valid question, and to be honest, I like the ballsiness of the writer. So, let's do this. 

Because, friends, monkeys matter if we want to understand the interaction of environment, social influence and biomedical contributions to common mental health issues. This is especially true if we are trying to decide how genetics might be contributing to your depression or how early experiences with your mother contributed to your anxiety. Monkeys might help us decide what we should do about it. 

Clinical Assessment of Mental Illness and The 15% Principle

Shrinking it up takes looking at a million different variables in any one person. But, as the authors of Darwinian Psychiatry note, each larger category probably only explains around fifteen percent of the total picture1

Fifteen percent. That's way less than the percentage of the pot of coffee I am going to drink while writing this....  continue reading

Is This Thought Normal or is it Postpartum Depression? The Top 5 Scary Thoughts After Birth

Friday, January 23, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Postpartum Depression

In the past I have written extensively about postpartum depression, from the evolutionary drives to abandon when stressed, to the importance of support, to the influence of hormones to the difference between PPD and postpartum psychosis (Check out the posts linked at the bottom of this article). But even with a symptom checklist, many don’t recognize the symptoms for what they are. Part of the reason for this is that the thoughts that accompany PPD may resemble normal thought patterns in new moms. So, I decided to create a different kind of checklist to help you differentiate between normal worries and signs of postpartum depression.  ...  continue reading

How To Deal With Intrusive Thoughts: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and "What If?" Thinking

Monday, January 19, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

What-if thinking is an exercise described in detail by Dr. David Burns in When Panic Attacks1. For those who suffer with anxiety or panic attacks, this exercise can be immensely helpful with getting to the root of a scary thought pattern.  

I know, it sounds very Freudian, but I promise we won’t blame it all on your mother or sexual attraction to your father.

Freudian slip = when you say one thing but mean a mother…I mean another!! 

Why Getting To The Root of a Problem Matters

The underlying meaning to these patterns is sometimes important because there may be a deeper-rooted fear for certain negative thoughts. While someone with an overactive nervous system may feel anxious about all kinds of different things, someone with a deeper fear may have it manifest in a series of thoughts that are seemingly related, but not obvious in their root. If you can change that original underlying thought--which may be closer to a belief--you can avoid other thoughts cropping up later....  continue reading