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What causes mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD?

Mostly chemical imbalance?

Mostly trauma such as severe abuse?

Usually a combination of both?

Trauma causes chemical imbalances which cause mental illness?

Truly, each case is different?

Or, do you think mental illness is over diagnosed these days?

Or, do you think that back in the day when we had to walk a mile to school uphill nobody had time for mental illness?

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It is a combination of contributing elements

 In utero health and environment has a huge impact on what DNA thingys are turned on or off. (Or something like that)

substances that the mother used while pregnant  like FASD

genetics

trauma

chemical imbalances

environmental factors

lifestyle choices like drug use

 

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Back in the day when no one had time for mental illness a lot of mentally ill people were confined.  And I think a lot of them might have died young although I’m not sure of that.

I think that there are environmental contributors, experiential ones, and genetic ones.  For instance, a predisposition to schizophrenia runs in families.  It seems to be a gene that is manifested or not partly based on environmental factors and also on weed use.  

Bipolar disorder is treated with lithium because it was observed that a lack of lithium in local diets seemed to correlate with a higher incidence of it, but there is no data indicating that it is a simple nutrient deficiency like pellegra or scurvy.

I am positive that depressed ways of thinking as well as anxious ones are learned in society, particularly in one’s FOO, and that those ways of thinking contribute to depression or anxiety feeling natural and being easy to fall into.  Having said that, there are chemical imbalances involved as well.  

Bottom line—it’s rarely just one thing, and it’s not simple.

Bottom line—it’s very complex.

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I think there are multiple factors, and it isn't "either/or", or even "both". 

I think there's a degree of things weren't recognized.  I'm autistic, have ADD, and CAPD. - lots of learning disabilities. I was in my 40's before I got those answers - but it explained a lot.  I was labeled "lazy" (or stupid) by too many teachers, some of whom made snotty comments in front of other students.  It was pretty typical of the period.  Especially for boys who didn't learn the way teachers taught, and couldn't sit still in class.

There's even a degree today, where people don't want to take time for someone who is struggling.

I think there is too much using mental illness as an excuse.  I do think there is more recognition of legitimate cases.  Yes, that would register as conflicting.  Because it's not a simple subject, but too many try to break it down when it is really very complex.

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“Mental illness” is a catch-all term for a lot of different things with various causes.  Your question makes about as much sense as asking what causes physical illness. The answer is many things can.

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Re were we better off in the olden days?

I mean, clearly not. Anyone who's read anything to do with the history of psychiatry can see that. 

Over-diagnosed? Should we toughen up? No...but also yes? 

Some mental illnesses are dynamic, not static. They are not intrinsic measures of identity, but are sometimes treated that way. People can get attached to their diagnosis in a way that isn't recovery-oriented. 

But really, it's kind of silly talking about mental illness as a overarching concept. Schizophrenia is different to depression is different to BPD. 

 

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Some stuff is probably related to the stupid ways we live now like PND and total lack of support for new mums and motherhood in general with modern life.  But I agree it’s too broad a category to truly be put into one of the other.

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23 minutes ago, Melissa in Australia said:

substances that the mother used while pregnant  like FASD

Is FASD considered a mental illness? Op specifically said mental illness, yes? I'm totally with you that FASD (which I only have acquaintance level exposure to) makes for challenging issues. But if we're to stick specifically with what op said, it isn't considered a mental illness I think.

33 minutes ago, Teaching3bears said:

Trauma causes chemical imbalances which cause mental illness?

You just got super deep there. The chemistry (just as a general statement) can run both ways. You can have mood so your chemistry changes or you can have chemistry so your mood changes. So you could get into deep waters with the whole what are the effects of trauma thing and that's a deep wade. 

https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748/ref=sr_1_1?crid=VP9E6KJ7M72N&dchild=1&keywords=the+body+keeps+the+score&qid=1628822044&sprefix=the+body+k%2Caps%2C202&sr=8-1

My two observations there are proper therapy (therapy intended for the type of trauma, specific to the person, body based trauma interventions) and making sure the dissociation is improved. It's now much more understood that trauma (wide umbrella) affects interoception (self awareness) and has a cascade of issues, including effect on narrative language development in children, etc. etc. And the effect of trauma therapy is PROFOUND. I've seen it in friends and in myself.

Fwiw, I think if you dig in, I don't think that the long term symptoms of the trauma (like say depression, etc.) are the sort of inherent to you things that you meant by mental illness. I don't think psychs tease them apart like that, but I think that's what you're exploring is how much they're intertwined.

So say someone has some genetic issues that make them prone to say low serotonin, low melatonin, high methyls, whatever and ON TOP of that they have trauma. You've got layers at that point. And I don't know if you've gotten there in your thinking, but you have the family cycle of parents having those genes and those issues causing the trauma in the offspring who have some combination of issues. So it's all happening sometimes, sigh.

27 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

I think there is too much using mental illness as an excuse. 

Haha, I agree with you but flip it as to who is making the excuse. To me the medical community uses the DSM and these overlapping terms (I'm trying to be nice here) rather than actually deal with the real underlying chemistry problems. We've got this sort of 1950s we can't know, throw an uptake inhibitor at everything approach to stuff that can be teased apart for $69 now if someone bothered. But I can call a top tier pdoc at a HUGE hospital system in a HUGE state trying to talk mental health (for my ds) and get total deer in the headlights answers when you actually talk chemistry. It's all stupid, just trust me prozac fixes everything crap. The people making the MOST excuses are the medical system that relies on outmoded, incomplete, not root oriented thinking. 

44 minutes ago, Teaching3bears said:

Or, do you think mental illness is over diagnosed these days?

Hmm, it's interesting to ponder. I was just reading about fluvoxamine (luvox), which is now being suggested for covid/ivermectin protocols. Apparently as it does it's uptake inhibitor business for 5HT (the precursor of 5HTP, something my ds takes in significant quantities for mood stabilization, something that has some amount of studies behind it, something you can actually see the genetic defect in for just $69), but it was PULLED OFF THE MARKET after the Columbine shootings. 

So when I hear people saying mental illness is overdiagnosed, it's usually in the church community with people wanting more rigorous discipline, structure, ethical instruction, parenting, whatever. The people making the claims have CRAP ZERO CLUE what their talking about. And clearly the psychs treating those two boys who became shooters also had CRAP ZERO CLUE how to help someone (deeply help, not throw a med help).

We are completely barbaric in how we handle these issues, even now, even with the ability to get a stupid ton of info for $69. You still have psychiatrists doing spaghetti at the wall methods and charging you $300 for the privilege of having your kid end up checked in when they're wrong.

My dad takes tons of stuff, has for many many years now (20+). He was on the streets before. I'm not saying people shouldn't take meds. I'm just saying if you're asking the real cause, you're asking more than the person treating you. Which means if you want deeper answers, you're probably going to have to look outside where you were looking.

The mind is very fragile. My dad does things that are completely inexplicable and so out of connection to his spiritual life, his values, anything. Sometimes we end up having to be very pragmatic (take whatever meds it takes) and sometimes, especially with your younger ones, we can try a few rabbit trails and see if we can find things.

51 minutes ago, Teaching3bears said:

depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD

Keep going on the list. Autism, schizophrenia, schizoaffective, etc. Just keep going. Then see the studies of how they roll across generations. Then see what you can find in your genetics.

I've spent hours up looking at genetics. I've found a few pieces I could wrap my brain around how to treat. It's really stinking complicated and pretty quickly you realize safety tops everything. There are doctors supposedly working with nutrigenomics (trying to find the connection between genes and the mental health pieces). For me, this is just me, I have been able to find enough pieces for myself that I'm mostly satisfied. Like I found *one* of my causes of anxiety and a way to treat it. The other I *think* I may have found and don't have a (supplement, root cause) way to treat. It causes me symptoms less often, so for that I have my short acting anxiety med. We can make very pragmatic choices like that. 

56 minutes ago, Teaching3bears said:

Truly, each case is different?

Oh I don't know. I think there are some pretty big hitter genes. Remember, say for aggression (like with my ds) most of the time they're using meds to control dopamine in some fashion. It's not like oh my 13,000 ways into aggression. They know it's the dopamine. So you just work backwards, lookig at the methylation cycle and dopamine and points where it's affected, genes involved, reasons why some types of dopamine might go high, etc. So for instance, the most *simple* point in there to look at is VDR, the vitamin D receptor. D pulls methyls off methycobalamin as part of the methylation cycle. So even something as simple as vitamin D can be a *piece* in mood stabilizing. 

That's why I ended up looking at the TPH2 gene (which makes 5HTP), because I needed something to control methyl and hence dopamine levels. And remember above I mentioned an SSRI that targets that very spot, which obviously they realized could be low. But think about the IDIOCY of this, the sheer barbarism. They give an uptake inhibitor on something that is low (due to genetics) and then are shocked when it doesn't work out well? But they never actually GIVE what the body was deficient in due to a genetic defect???

It would be easy to insert here a rant on the unhelpfulness of many churches on this. It places a heavy burden to tell people they ought to be able to solve rationally things that drive the body so hard. Paul was quite clear that at times his body didn't do what he wanted it to. Sometimes our bodies are very hard. I am completely pragmatic and focused on safety first in matters of dealing with our hard bodies while at the same time wishing we could finally look at root causes.

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While I think that discussing the origins of mental illness in general can be interesting, I would be very uncomfortable with someone trying to decide what the roots of a particular person’s mental illness might be. Especially by someone looking on and not someone like a psychiatrist or therapist. It can lead to generalizations which can be problematic. 

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I think it’s rarely just one thing.

It can be chemical in the body. Numerous contributors. Lack of vitamins or minerals or damage to the body in various ways.

I think humans struggle with how to handle life’s tragedies and far too often there’s little in our societies that helps with that.

There’s no accepted outlet in most societies these days to rend our clothing and pour ashes on our heads in grief, horror and shame. Sure as heck aren’t getting several months to acceptably live that way to fully process with the support of our communities. So it stays all bottled up screwing up our brains even more and wrecking havoc with our relationships even more.

Combine that with other health and life factors and it sure doesn’t make it easier. 

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1 hour ago, Teaching3bears said:

Or, do you think that back in the day when we had to walk a mile to school uphill nobody had time for mental illness?

You know the answer to this if you think hard. It was happening and people weren't talking about it. My grandfather (on my father's side, the one with the extra chirpy genes) was a hard man by all reputes. He fought in WWI, not WW2 like my maternal grandfather, and from what I've been told he beat my grandmother. So it's not very hard to see where my father got his issues from. My mother didn't realize the family history when she married him because PEOPLE DIDN'T TALK ABOUT IT. But they knew.

Look also at our history with institutions, etc. We had places we put people, ways we handled it. I only have passing understanding, but I think the gig was that there were closures and a shift in how things were handled. 

We also live with a lot of affluence now, where it's easy to have food, clothing, and shelter with minimal work. The dire need for work to survive would have held some things in check. 

I don't think idealism about the past or suck it up philosophies or harshness (vs. structure, structure is good) will solve serious challenges. 

Have you seen The Snake Pit with Olivia DeHavilland? Imagine going back enough years that you *didn't* have options (genetics, supplements, meds, etc.) and were left with suck it up, institutionalization, whatever they had. And ponder the reinterpretation of her symptoms over the years as our understanding of root causes would change. 

 

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16 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Especially by someone looking on and not someone like a psychiatrist or therapist. It can lead to generalizations which can be problematic. 

It goes in reverse too, with people realizing they were put on psych meds for easily diagnosable problems like thyroid. 

But I'm with you that it's way too complex to go oh yeah all BPD have this one gene or whatever. I can't even understand all my ds' issues, dig as I might. And the more I learn, the more complex it seems. I think it's probably that so many factors are involved. Take for instance ADHD, which in theory they make sound so mundane. The doesn't seem to be a lot of discussion of the subtypes and the chemistry underlying those different presentations. I've assumed the same was true in some of these other diagnoses too, that you're seeing different combinations of defects result in complex patterns/presentations.

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I think the number one default should always be to go through basic health with a fine tooth comb first. Vitamins and minerals thyroid and so on.  It’s just bleeping bleep that women have to go through so much to get treatment compared to men.  But the basics of such things would be a good start for everyone imnsho. Even or maybe especially young children too.  

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I think it's like asking what the cause of physical illness is.  There's no one answer.

For example, my kid saw an orthopedist for fragility fractures due to osteoporosis caused by a medication he took to address a condition of unknown origin.  His orthopedist also saw kids with genetic syndromes with clearly identified denovo mutations like Apert syndrome, and kids who had been in car crashes or had sports injuries.  

Knowing that car crashes or sports injuries are common causes of orthopedic issues didn't help the doctor treating my son.  He needed to see my son as an individual and treat him accordingly.

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I think it's more genetic than environmental, except maybe in extreme trauma situations.

My kid has OCD and there is no way to explain that other than physical wiring.  (Even then, I don't understand it.)  Especially given that certain rituals are present in a lot of people who never met each other nor had any common experiences.

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

You know the answer to this if you think hard. It was happening and people weren't talking about it. My grandfather (on my father's side, the one with the extra chirpy genes) was a hard man by all reputes. He fought in WWI, not WW2 like my maternal grandfather, and from what I've been told he beat my grandmother. So it's not very hard to see where my father got his issues from. My mother didn't realize the family history when she married him because PEOPLE DIDN'T TALK ABOUT IT. But they knew.

Look also at our history with institutions, etc. We had places we put people, ways we handled it. I only have passing understanding, but I think the gig was that there were closures and a shift in how things were handled. 

We also live with a lot of affluence now, where it's easy to have food, clothing, and shelter with minimal work. The dire need for work to survive would have held some things in check. 

I don't think idealism about the past or suck it up philosophies or harshness (vs. structure, structure is good) will solve serious challenges. 

Have you seen The Snake Pit with Olivia DeHavilland? Imagine going back enough years that you *didn't* have options (genetics, supplements, meds, etc.) and were left with suck it up, institutionalization, whatever they had. And ponder the reinterpretation of her symptoms over the years as our understanding of root causes would change. 

 

Thanks for the movie recommendation

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One aspect not mentioned is autoimmunity.  Lupus patients can get psychosis from brain inflammation.  Bipolar is a mental illness that some of the latest research seems to javevan autoimmune aspect.

A lit of different autoimmune diseases have depression as one of the symptomx you can have.  For me, steroids lift the depression alinv w8th all the other symptoms of a flare.

As to schizophrenia, they hsve ohyical changes t9 their brains.  Their brains develop holes.  I don't think they know how those holes develop.  And gnetics seems to play a role and marijuana hastens the development.

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7 hours ago, Melissa Louise said:

Over-diagnosed? Should we toughen up? No...but also yes?

That’s where I am, too.  
I am more empathetic (as well as sympathetic) to many things than I used to be. But I also find myself, in certain circumstances, thinking, “Okay, that does suck. Rub some dirt in it and get on with things.”

That is me seeing a line between Mental Illness and sensitivities though.  Depression vs. depressed. Anxiety vs. anxious. Tough break vs. crisis. Protected vs. sheltered.

But I’m also a genx mom with a millennial mom sister, so sometimes I find myself very confused and skeptical!

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7 hours ago, klmama said:

Could you please elaborate on this?  

I thought it was common knowledge. One of the common symptoms of low thyroid is depression, so the person gets a medication for that and they (the docs) use some stupid high, outdated TSH (5.0 or higher) and don't get the thyroid treated. 

4 hours ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

People don't become mentally ill because they are not mentally tough.  Now there can be mental resilience and flexibility that we want to cultivate in ourselves (at least I do) but that isn't the same thing at all. 

Exactly. And if they get through by "sucking it up" because they had trauma (from a mentally ill parent) and are dissociating, then that's not healthy either. It's not like all suck it up is good. Using strategies, knowing how you feel, setting limits, being healthy is good. I think people with mental health challenges already hear suck it up, you're not good enough, you wouldn't feel this way if you tried harder, you wouldn't feel this way if you repented, you wouldn't feel this way if you were right with God, on and on enough. What they aren't usually given is the tools that would allow them to stay connected, use strategies, and do better. Meds alone don't necessarily solve things. My dad was given *13 years* of weekly psychiatric appointments and as many days a week as he wanted of group sessions. WHO HAS THAT KIND OF ACCESS??? So they TAUGHT my dad the cognitive tools, the self awareness tools, he needed ALONG WITH MEDS, to be in a better place. Neither one alone was getting him there. He's delusional without meds and can't apply strategies. But meds can only do so much. You still need self awareness and tools. 

Fwiw, so far my ds is on supplements based on genetics and is being given as many tools as I can. I'm VERY BLUNT about the consequences of not using tools, not taking meds. I'm pretty much all of the above, use what it takes, safety first. I get SO TIRED of people in the church who think they know a little something. That same pastor would not look at a person with cancer and say "But the Bible says we can anoint you with oil and pray and you'll be healed!" The Bible says it, but they don't do that with cancer. But they look at someone delusional or violent and look for simplistic answers (it's a sin problem, blah blah). 

There are a lot of very religious people trying very hard to suck it up who have very hard bodies and very hard chemistry to live with.

Edited by PeterPan
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5 hours ago, TravelingChris said:

As to schizophrenia, they hsve ohyical changes t9 their brains.  Their brains develop holes. 

Oh this is interesting. I hadn't heard about this. I will definitely have to google. To me, none of these labels are quite as distinct as they make them sound. I see them (for my own purposes) as a continuum. You move along the continuum of labels as you add more genetic defects and push people over. Like with my dad, he had *profound* stress in the military. He definitely had some chemistry issues before he went in, but he was not delusional.

So I'm just thinking out loud here, but it's well known that schizophrenia is common a generation before the autism. That's why I'm saying continuum. So if schizophrenia has that brain effect, I'd be expecting it to show up in some other labels too. We already know autism has funkiness with spacing of the mini columns, ratios of white/grey matter, etc. Just holes I hadn't heard about.

5 hours ago, TravelingChris said:

psychosis from brain inflammation. 

Hmm. So I've been doing HBOT and their main thesis (besides of course the glory of oxygen) is that they can reduce inflammation. It's why they suggest in blanket fashion for so many things. That's not to say go to HBOT after a pdoc diagnosis. But inflammation is common across a lot of labels and things that help inflammation seem to help the symptoms from the inflammation. Totally with you there. 

You could back up and ask whether someone without chemistry problems (affecting dopamine or serotonin for instance) would have the same response to inflammation. That protocol for using ivermectin and fluvoxamine for COVID is trying to use the anti-inflammatory properties of higher 5-HT (and hence 5HTP, something being used in large doses for schizophrenia, something that is amazing for my ds). Google is saying fluvoxamine is an agonist for the sigma-1 receptor. I'm trying to figure out whether 5HTP also does the same thing or if it's bonus that comes just from fluvoxamine.

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5 hours ago, TravelingChris said:

As to schizophrenia, they hsve ohyical changes t9 their brains.  Their brains develop holes. 

https://health.usnews.com/conditions/mental-health/schizophrenia/articles/inside-the-schizophrenic-brain  So I found this article, and it seems to be saying the atrophy of various sections results in larger open spaces for fluid in the ventricles, which they are calling holes. But the big issue is the atrophy of sections like the amygdala (which is what controls interoception=self awareness, something I keep harping about), the hippocampus, and frontal lobes (EF), etc. 

I don't think anyone would consider it a surprise that areas used less in the brain would atrophy. So you'd have a perpetuating cycle and the intervention would be (drum roll) those cognitive strategies I was talking about. They're teaching mindfulness, body scans, self awareness, on and on in these military mental health clinics. At the more typical level, where you just walk in to the doctor, you're handed a med and not given that level of services. 

I bought a curriculum to try with my ds that is used for inpatient treatment of teens in behavioral health clinics. Tons of self awareness, body awareness tools and lessons, the stuff that would activate the parts of the brain they're saying are atrophying and causing the holes.

https://www.therapro.com/The-Sensory-Connection-Program-Curriculum-for-Self-Regulation.html

Edited by PeterPan
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Well I can answer part of one. Depression varies. If it’s situational depression then I think that’s the answer (whatever the situation is). Now maybe not everyone will get depressed in the same situations but some might be more common (ie loss). 

I think it can greatly vary. Like diet can influence moods, heredity, situations, chemical imbalance. Lack of time outdoors or exercising can affect it. Seasons. The company you keep? To some degree. 

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9 hours ago, Melissa in Australia said:

FASD itself isn’t considered a mental illness, but people with FASD do have mental illness as part of the condition -Anxiety, depression, compulsive disorders , very low stress levels, difficulty or inability to regulate emotions etc

And then this is the chicken and egg thing......do they have FASD because bio mother had untreated or under treated mental illness and self medicated with alcohol?   So maybe it is genetic?

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I think it's very complicated and we probably know very little...  We tend to group traits together and diagnose it as something because then it's easier to discuss and try and treat, but in reality, that might be more harmful than helpful for some.  

For example, in our family line, there are some extremely black and white thinkers.  I'm quite sure this has nothing to do with brain chemistry, upbringing, etc., but more based on how their brains are organized.  Like maybe their brain structure is highly compartmentalized and their neuropaths don't interconnect in ways that we think of as typical.  Then throw in some genetics like sensitivity, and you suddenly have traits that appear like borderline-type traits...but it's not really a mental illness, nor is it due to brain chemistry or trauma.  

The brain is so fascinating.

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12 minutes ago, J-rap said:

I think it's very complicated and we probably know very little...  We tend to group traits together and diagnose it as something because then it's easier to discuss and try and treat, but in reality, that might be more harmful than helpful for some.  

For example, in our family line, there are some extremely black and white thinkers.  I'm quite sure this has nothing to do with brain chemistry, upbringing, etc., but more based on how their brains are organized.  Like maybe their brain structure is highly compartmentalized and their neuropaths don't interconnect in ways that we think of as typical.  Then throw in some genetics like sensitivity, and you suddenly have traits that appear like borderline-type traits...but it's not really a mental illness, nor is it due to brain chemistry or trauma.  

The brain is so fascinating.

It truly is.

There are multiple DSM dx’es in my family. There are also many of us family members (with and without DSM dx’es) who have traits that are parts of many various DSM dx’es, but not numerous or pervasive enough to “be” a defined DSM label. Some of those needing understanding, patience, and coping tools. Others, just quirks.

Self-awareness is very important, imo, but not everything needs to be seen as pathological.

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59 minutes ago, J-rap said:

I think it's very complicated and we probably know very little...  We tend to group traits together and diagnose it as something because then it's easier to discuss and try and treat, but in reality, that might be more harmful than helpful for some.  

For example, in our family line, there are some extremely black and white thinkers.  I'm quite sure this has nothing to do with brain chemistry, upbringing, etc., but more based on how their brains are organized.  Like maybe their brain structure is highly compartmentalized and their neuropaths don't interconnect in ways that we think of as typical.  Then throw in some genetics like sensitivity, and you suddenly have traits that appear like borderline-type traits...but it's not really a mental illness, nor is it due to brain chemistry or trauma.  

The brain is so fascinating.

I don't think of either ADHD or Autism to be mental illnesses

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3 hours ago, PeterPan said:

One of the common symptoms of low thyroid is depression, so the person gets a medication for that and they (the docs) use some stupid high, outdated TSH (5.0 or higher) and don't get the thyroid treated. 

I haven’t finished reading all of the replies, but I wanted to say that my sister had hyperthyroidism. One manifestation was anxiety and rage. She was fired from her job, and almost lost her marriage. She was able to treat it with acupuncture and Chinese medicine, but every once in a while, I notice her behavior inching back that way and tell her to get a blood panel done. 
 

My oldest has autism and anxiety. She does not want to be medicated or treated at all, which is fine with me because she is functional and happy. Except, she suddenly had enough stressors to push her over into non functioning. She said she was edging into mania and went days without sleeping, yet she couldn’t get anything done like combing her hair or cleaning her kitchen. She is usually very high achieving, but suddenly her hair was felted and her kitchen was crawling with maggots. 
 

I wasn’t able to just fly to her and comb her hair and clean her kitchen, so I first sent her a shipment of vitamins. Right away, she said that the magnesium made her able to sleep. I suggested she also try L Tryptophan, which she said stopped the shaking from anxiety as soon as she took it. With that little bit of help, she was able to push through and get her stuff done and mentally step back and identify the problem as pandemic isolation. She then drove across the country to move in with a friend where she could still work remotely, but have her support people near by. The vitamins and supplements didn’t fix her problems, but they gave her enough relief for her to fix her own. 
 

My son’s anxiety and depression are so extreme that he needs to take multiple psychiatric drugs three times a day just to live. His psychiatrist says that he doesn’t prescribe benzodiazepines for very many patients, but my son is the very definition of who they were made for. 
 

We clearly have some chemical imbalances that run in my family. Past generations death with them by becoming alcoholics. Both of my siblings are in recovery. I’m proud of my kids for doing the hard work to get real help instead of just drinking themselves to oblivion. 
 

For myself, I have always struggled with anxiety but have been able to push through it and reach my goals and avoid some familial pitfalls, but the trauma of my near death experience changed that. My oncologist and family doctor have been working with me for a year trying to treat the spike in anxiety as a short term response to trauma, but now they believe it has cause me to have PTSD and that I might not ever be able to function unmedicated again, so they sent me to a psychiatrist who I’ll see for the first time next week. 
 

In my case, I have a clear, inherited tendency to chemical imbalance which was exacerbated by trauma. The good news is that when my medication is right, I feel better than I ever have in my life. I had no idea that it was possible to feel so calm and happy. If I hadn’t had pulmonary embolisms and aggressive cancer, I never would have known there was help so I never would have sought it. 
 

 

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2 hours ago, TravelingChris said:

I don't think of either ADHD or Autism to be mental illnesses

If we catch the train that’s shifting terminology away from “illness”, I do. Mentally, I function different from the norm. It takes a lot of various means for me to function closer to norm. My symptoms have the ability to put me into physical and emotional crisis.  Same for my son.

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15 minutes ago, Hilltopmom said:

Well my kid with mental illness does not have a trauma history at all.

My kid on the spectrum has no trauma history but a genetic history of autism.

Why would you think those are caused by trauma?

My autistic kid and my kid with debilitating depression and anxiety have no trauma history either. 
 

The analogy I always think of is to compare these brain difference to someone who has a pronounced limp. I think of them as symptoms or results that could be caused by many, many different things. 
 

One person might limp form a club foot which formed prenatally. Another person could limp because of bone cancer which might have an environmental aspect. A third might have limp because of an injury. 
 

This is why I believe things like changing an autistic child’s diet to gluten and casin free can have a huge effect of one individual and absolutely none on another. 
 

And, of course, if an individual already has a genetics or acquired issue with one leg, also getting a physical impact to that leg is just going to magnify the problem. That is how I view the trauma contribution. In some cases, it is enough to cause the brain difference. In other cases, it compounds an issue that already exists, but just because a person walks with a limp, it does not follow that there has to have been some impact to the leg at some point which caused it. 
 

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I have major depression/anxiety and have had no trauma or abuse or anything like that. My ds has many of the same issues with no trauma. My dad has similar issues and I don’t believe he had any trauma either. (Although there could be parts of his life he hasn’t shared).

With my ds, though- I have been with him every single day of his life. I whole heartedly believed that I could raise him “right” and he could be spared some of my issues. I did everything from healthy eating to never letting him cry it out, etc. Doesn’t matter. In fact, I kindof think that his complete lack of real trauma causes him to experience slight discomforts as trauma. Like, if we don’t go where he wants for dinner, he accuses us of loving the other kids more because we went where they wanted. Stupid stuff like that. Every day. He has been diagnosed with all kinds of things. And I’ve completely given up thinking I can do anything “right”. 
I think this has a genetic link. 

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5 hours ago, Hilltopmom said:

Well my kid with mental illness does not have a trauma history at all.

My kid on the spectrum has no trauma history but a genetic history of autism.

Why would you think those are caused by trauma?

I was asking questions to learn more.

People who experience trauma often get diagnosed with anxiety, depression and other mental illness.

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Mental health is a spectrum.  As I was taught in all my psych classes, we all experience anxiety, depression etc. at times.  But for some it develops into something more chronic :  neurosis which can benefit from therapy, meds etc.  But for some people there is a break from reality :  psychosis.  This can also benefit from therapy and meds but often requires hospitalization as well.  Why some people go further on the spectrum isn't easy to pin down.  

Society is talking a lot more about the issues.  This is good because it takes away some of the stigma that people have faced as a barrier to getting the help they need.  It's also good to note the more transient types of mental health issues that all of us face.  It allows us to show empathy to others as we see that others are experiencing some of the same struggles that we face.  And it allows us to know when it gets to the place when we might benefit from some help. 

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38 minutes ago, Teaching3bears said:

People who experience trauma often get diagnosed with anxiety, depression and other mental illness.

Don't underestimate the power of "Blame the victim." It's such a convenient narrative.
Also, don't underestimate what people need to do to get funding. If the only way someone's kid can get a needed teacher's aid is to choose a disability from the government approved list, they'd better do it.

Otherwise, yeah, of course people who experience trauma get diagnosed with anxiety, depression and who knows what else. Normal reactions to abnormal situations are considered abnormalities.

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32 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Don't underestimate the power of "Blame the victim." It's such a convenient narrative.
Also, don't underestimate what people need to do to get funding. If the only way someone's kid can get a needed teacher's aid is to choose a disability from the government approved list, they'd better do it.

Otherwise, yeah, of course people who experience trauma get diagnosed with anxiety, depression and who knows what else. Normal reactions to abnormal situations are considered abnormalities.

Yes, I was trying to say that trauma often causes depression and anxiety.  I completely agree that it is a normal reaction.

 

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9 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

Self-awareness is very important, imo, but not everything needs to be seen as pathological.

Or put another way, some things are sub-clinical. When you get an autism diagnosis, you've taken a bunch of factors (which, as you say could have been present for generations) and piled them up so much and to such a degree that they are finally having "significant effect." But I'm totally with you that the traits were there as quirks for generations typically. (unless de novo)

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9 hours ago, TravelingChris said:

I don't think of either ADHD or Autism to be mental illnesses

Yeah you're teasing apart mental disorder (DSM=Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) vs. mental illness. So it's considered a developmental disability found in the DSM, making it a mental disorder. I agree with you that it would not be normal to call it a mental illness in the common vernacular. We'll typically say people were possibly diagnosed with other mental illnesses before being diagnosed with autism. 

But it's kind of funny, because if there's so much overlap, why don't we consider schizophrenia or OCD developmental disorders? Do we even LOOK at the developmental delays and issues of those people? I swear, weirdest moment of my life was when I asked my dad's psychiatric nurse practitioner of 13 years whether she thought he might be on the spectrum, and she's like "I don't know, never thought about it." But diagnosed currently (pick a really strong label) and all kinds of funky quirks, really funky. Like he wet till 17. No diabetes. So isn't that a developmental difference? But he gets called schizo-affective disorder and my ds gets called ASD2. 

The DSM is idiotic. That's all I'm saying. There are so many holes in the whole gig it's preposterous. They are literally like those ancient dudes patting the elephant and coming to all kinds of incorrect conclusions because they look at parts and never grasp the whole.

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1 hour ago, Teaching3bears said:

People who experience trauma often get diagnosed with anxiety, depression and other mental illness.

https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+body+keeps+the+score&qid=1628897584&sr=8-1

After some surprising twists, I was referred for trauma counseling as an adult. Best thing ever. (Well that and HBOT for head injuries, salvation, cruising, etc, but whose counting?) Anyways, we have ways to deal with the effects of trauma and the sad thing is how slow we are to have it recommended to us. I had physical problems I had been blamed for for YEARS by a nutritionist, who said it was my fault I this and this and this. Did the trauma therapy, and BOOM those problems improved overnight. I kid you not.

The body has sensory memory and stores all that pain. Without that release, it creates this undercurrent that you're constantly swimming against (dissociation, pain, on and on). 

I have seen it happen that pastoral staff with NO TRAUMA TRAINING are counseling kids with trauma, legit, legally defined trauma. They have some screwy thought in their head that they can just pick up Bible verses and tell people to pray it out I guess. Whatever. They have no clue what they're doing or the severe consequences of trauma. I mean, there's a reason Jesus said wrap a millstone and go jump if you hurt a child. 

So why do we need to call that mental illness? That's what I think the person should push back against is this constantly medicalization and pillpopping as the answer for something that has legit treatment needs. The answer to trauma is counseling and therapies appropriate to the type of trauma. The answer to genetic symptoms of anxiety, depression, etc. etc. ought to be (first) treating the underlying issues. But instead our system to both just says here's a prozac. Nevermind why, just label you and take the pill.

I have no problem with taking pills. I'm just pro choice on this and think the answer ought to be all of the above, not just here's prozac.

Edited by PeterPan
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7 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

The answer to trauma is counseling and therapies appropriate to the type of trauma.

C'mon. Secondary wounding is the best!

I still haven't figured out why mental health professionals seem to think current and past trauma can be treated the same way.

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Just now, Rosie_0801 said:

C'mon. Secondary wounding is the best!

Oh my. I went in for jury duty yesterday and it turned out the charges were (insert thing my trauma involved). That was pretty rattling, deep sigh. It was like staring down the face of evil.

They quickly excused me (and many others), because it was very obvious I was not going to be objective and dispassionate about this one. And yeah it felt like a second wounding, so visceral. 

That was a total rabbit trail. It just left me mentally disheveled and questioning my ability to do things. And the judge was really cool about it, very understanding and polite (not making you say much, blah blah). But I swear they could have screened us better and just not called us in. I was not mentally prepared for what happened. 

So yes, unless the person has btdt, they may not really get it and what it feels like and what they're doing. Certainly these (remove profanity) "pastors" shoving Bible verses and platitudes at kids with trauma have no clue.

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This is not what op asked, but I'll tell you that I found help by looking on the Focus on the Family referral lists. They have a very detailed search engine, so you can put in specifics like the age group they work with, the mix of disabilities, etc. I could not believe it when we found a phd christian counselor who had extensive experience with the ages I needed plus trauma and autism. Sometimes there are gems. There are some weirdos too, sure. 

But at some point, the question goes from why to *what are you wanting to do about it?* And when you're asking that, that's how I found help. So for instance this phd had a masters and was licensed in social work. That meant they were legal to talk DSM and diagnose and know what they were seeing. But they also had that PhD in biblical counseling and had studied trauma therapy. 

So help does exist and at some point your energy needs to transition to what you want to DO about it. You can take small steps. I started wanting to talk DSM, and the counselor was like well we could, but why don't we start with what will make a difference first? And things started getting better at that point. You just take steps and you learn and you unravel. You don't have to figure it out all at once. That was like 6 years ago I was taking those steps. It wasn't all at once.

So instead of getting intimidated, just pick ONE STEP you'd like to take.

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13 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

That’s where I am, too.  
I am more empathetic (as well as sympathetic) to many things than I used to be. But I also find myself, in certain circumstances, thinking, “Okay, that does suck. Rub some dirt in it and get on with things.”

That is me seeing a line between Mental Illness and sensitivities though.  Depression vs. depressed. Anxiety vs. anxious. Tough break vs. crisis. Protected vs. sheltered.

But I’m also a genx mom with a millennial mom sister, so sometimes I find myself very confused and skeptical!

I'm kinda at the point of wondering if calling things like depression and anxiety an  'illness' even has any value.*

It's mapping on a type of diagnosis and explanation that makes sense for the physical body ( sometimes) onto the mind - which we know close to zero about. You can't scan someone for mental illness. 

Chronic patterns or disruptions  of thought, feeling and behaviour that allow/disallow a person to function as they might wish. Sometimes modifiable to the extent the patterns or disruptions smooth out and allow more effective function, sometimes not. 

What we see, in the difference between sometimes feeling depressed and Having Depression is a difference in effect on function. Is one a disease and the other a natural transient state? Does it help to conceptualize it this way? Idk. 

Same with anxiety. It's just a mismatch between brain and environment. Who's to say the brain is ill - why not the environment? Maybe nothing is ill - just ill-suited. 

*I guess the purpose is to access resources that hopefully support better function. A shame we have to use a disease model to do it. 

 

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