Be Aware: 3 Ways To Support Someone Suffering From Mental Illness

Have you ever felt ashamed about skipping out on a plan or event because of mental illness?

 

Gabi Garrett

 

I have.

Would the same apply if you had a health issue, such as a minor headache, instead of mild anxiety or heart palpitations? I’d say, probably not.

As someone who has struggled with anxiety for the past five years, it’s important for me to highlight the stigma that comes along with having mental health issues.

Mental illness has gotten a bad rep in popular culture.

Many shows portray the idea that if you have a mental health issue, you should be locked away from the public.

When Lana was trapped inside the fictional Briarcliff Mental Institution in “American Horror Story” for essentially choosing to be a lesbian, we saw how far the stigmas against mental illness have come, and how far we have to go.

It could be those with mental illness are shown to be locked away because the majority of the public can’t handle these issues.

How can we make it more natural to understand mental illness?

 

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‘I want this to be joyous’: Edinburgh fringe’s startling shows about depression

 

 

In cabaret shows and musicals such as My Beautiful Black Dog,

performers at the fringe are breaking the taboo of mental health

 

 

 

 

‘People don’t want to talk about this stuff’ … Brigitte Aphrodite’s My Beautiful Black Dog. Photograph: Olivier Richomme

As a nation, the UK has never excelled at talking about its own state of mind. From discussions about depression to frank admissions of unhappiness, such matters have mostly remained taboo in favour of maintaining that very British stiff upper lip.

However, at this year’s Edinburgh festival fringe, mental health has emerged as an unexpected theme, with performers and comedians increasingly creating and championing pieces that break through the stigma.

As is reflective of the breadth of the fringe itself, these ideas and issues around mental health are being presented in pieces spanning standup and musicals to monologues and dramatic lectures. Already grabbing headlines is Fake It ’Til You Make It, a show created by comedian Bryony Kimmings and advertising executive Tim Grayburn.

 

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Which Comes First: Depression or Weight Gain?

Don't address your weight before your mental health

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For many people, weight is depressing. Whether consequent to society's hateful weight biases, which expose individuals with obesity to mood-killing bullying, scorn and discrimination, or to personally held beliefs and attitudes, there's little doubt that weight is often a huge psychological burden.

Yoni Freedhoff
Yoni Freedhoff

 

[See When Science Met The Biggest Loser.]

 

There's little doubt, too, that those who struggle with both weight and depression often feel a tight relationship between them, that their depression would lift were they to lose weight. And for some it does.

A recent meta-analysis of the impact of intentional non-pharmacologic weight-loss programs on depression revealed that indeed weight loss is associated with an improvement in mood. But that's not the whole story. And so, before you rush out and join a weight-loss program, you need to know that the mood benefits shown occurred in folks enrolled in behavioral weight-loss programs, regardless of whether or not they lost weight. In other words, it wasn't the losing that was helping mood, it was something else.

The researchers believe that most likely mood was shown to improve due to either exercise or the social support offered by the programs themselves.

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How Depression Warps Your Sense Of Time

Time may fly when you're having fun, but it can feel as though it's screeching to a halt when you're depressed.

 

 

People with depression actually perceive time as going by more slowly than people who are not depressed, according to a review of studies published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in January.

To investigate the link between depression and time perception, German researchers analyzed data from 16 previous studies on more than 800 depressed and non-depressed people. Most of the studies assessed time perception by asking participants to gauge the length of time that they had engaged in different activities, such as watching a short film or pressing a button. The analysis revealed that people with depression reported a slower subjective experience of time — they often felt as though time was slowly dragging by.

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One study suggested that this slower perception of time might be based in the physiology of depression. The research, published in the journal Behavioral Processes in 2009, showed that depression may cause a slowing down of the individual's internal clock — possibly caused by a general slowing down of motor behavior.

"The feeling that time is passing slowly may be based on an awareness of the slowing down of the internal clock and/or an awareness of changes in the rhythm of executive functions in comparison with time in the outside world," the study's authors write.

Another reason for the difference in time perception may be the way that attention is regulated differently in depression patients compared to non-depressed individuals.

 

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Dating With a Mental Illness

 

Your condition doesn't have to keep you from finding love.

A happy young couple sits and talks in a coffee shop.

 

Having an open and honest conversation with your date can help you decide if he or she will be worth your time and effort.

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When you have a mental illness, the fun of dinner and drinks and the chemistry between the two of you can be dwarfed by worrying over how your date will react when you open up about your condition. If you tell him too soon, you might scare him off. Wait too long, and you run the risk of her feeling misled. So what do you do?

 

Molly Pohlig, a 36-year-old New Yorker, has depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder – conditions she says have made dating difficult in the past. "Several people were taken aback," she says, "and I've had some relationships or dates end pretty abruptly because of it."

 

 

The issue, says Pohlig, who has written about dating with a mental illness, is that many people have not had any experience interacting with someone with mental illness. "All they’ve seen are TV shows, and they think that if you say, 'I have a mental illness,' it means you’re a psychopath."

 

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