One in four Winnipeggers have mood or anxiety disorder: report

Every day is the worst day of his life.


That’s how Winnipegger Michael Jordan describes his outlook during a depressive episode.

“Sometimes I just wake up and stare at the ceiling and just don’t want to get up,” Jordan said. “It’s just a crushing sadness that you have for no reason.”

The 23-year-old was diagnosed with bipolar disorder three years ago but believes he’s suffered from it for at least a decade. Now, he speaks on behalf of the Canadian Mental Health Association Winnipeg to help others dealing with mental illness.

A new report indicates Jordan is far from alone. Nearly one-quarter of all Winnipeggers were diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder during the past five years, according to the latest Peg Indicator Report released by The United Way on Monday.

The report states 24.4% of those living in the city were diagnosed with these disorders, which include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders and others, between 2007/08 and 2011/12.

Those affected with mood or anxiety disorders have more trouble finding and keeping jobs, are at higher risk of chronic physical ailments and are twice as likely to become victims of crime, the report states.

Once diagnosed, these one-in-four Winnipeggers may also face challenges in finding the help they need. Jordan said he’s been waiting for a psychiatrist for eight months so far, with no end in sight.

Tara Brousseau Snider, executive director of the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba, said the health-care system must grow to meet the need.

“We have a long way to go to reach appropriate mental-health funding,” Brousseau Snider said.

Manitoba currently devotes about 5% to 7% of its budget to mental illness, while the World Health Organization estimates about 11% of a health budget should be devoted to the issue, she added.

The study’s lead researcher said mood and anxiety disorders are far more common than most physical ailments. Heart disease, for example, affects only about 8% of Winnipeggers.

“Everyone knows someone who has cancer but we may know three or four people that have depression and we’re not aware of it,” said Dr. Randy Fransoo, a Manitoba Centre for Health Policy researcher. “It’s very common and lots of people probably would benefit from more or better treatment.”

The local rate of those diagnosed with the disorders has stabilized over the past decade and varies from 18% to 27% in different areas of the city, Fransoo said. Point Douglas had the highest proportion of mood disorder diagnoses at 27.4%, while Inkster had the lowest at 18.3%.

Findings are based on anonymous data collected from physicians, hospitalizations, and drug prescription drugs for individuals of ages 10 and up.

Twitter: @pursagawpgsun


My year of anxiety: How my worries took control, and how I’m taking it back

My story is fairly mundane, and primarily a case of imbalanced chemicals. Today’s discussions about mental health and personal trauma make my college years of trading high school horror stories in metered rhyme (because I studied poetry, of course) sound absolutely trivial. I was born with a brain that likes to run around in circles and chew its own tail, an obsessive-compulsive sponge that retreated into superstitions and rituals at a very young age. And what would clinical OCD be without depression and anxiety? Lonely, maybe.

I was diagnosed in the days before Prozac. I was absolutely sure I was the only 9-year-old in therapy, never mind that it was the middle school principal who firmly suggested a therapist by name to my parents. My parents were worried when the doctor first suggested Imipramine, a pretty old-school tricyclic antidepressant I’ve since left in the dust, but I can’t remember any such reservations. I can only imagine that I felt the same way then as I do on occasion now, like when my brain is tricking me with bone-aching depression in the deep of winter: that I will take anything a doctor gives me if it brings relief.

Over the years, I’ve tried many different medications, in various combinations. A few made me nauseated or nervous, others made me dizzy or sleepy, and some worked until suddenly one day they didn’t, at which point I’d have to start all over again. I am certain I would not be a functioning human being without therapy and medication, no matter how scattershot the results can be.

This isn’t necessarily something I keep secret, but it feels safest to discuss with other people who have had similar experiences. If it were so fucking easy to pull ourselves out of depressive episodes or anxiety spin-outs or OCD twitches simply with willpower, don’t you think we would? Going to the gym or yoga helps, of course it does, but the times when we’re feeling anxious or depressed are also the times when it’s most difficult to do it. (Even writing this, I can hear a chorus of voices in my head telling me that it’s difficult but not impossible, and if I really wanted to, I could or would.)

These are things my most trusted companions and I discuss amongst ourselves, over brunch or cocktails or late at night, via text or IM or email. We remind each other to be kind to ourselves, because the world isn’t that kind and our brains are constantly working against us. And even though therapy and mental illness and psychopharmaceuticals are so openly discussed these days — more than I’d ever thought possible as a kid — I still feel defensive. It’s hard to differentiate between interrogation and curiosity when your internal monologue is delivered by a self-flagellating priest in a hair shirt.

Over the years, I’ve come up with various tricks and tips to manage the ebb and flow of serotonin. I deal with my brain a lot like a parent of a toddler would when planning for a long trip. Distraction is key: books, e-books, music, soothing sounds, podcasts, even a notebook and a pen can be handy if I can’t get up and walk around. (The notes I scribble during movie screenings are a good indicator of how tweaked out I felt by the movie. One of my favorite movies from 2013, “Short Term 12,” is heavy, stirring, and lovely, and the press notes for it are covered in curlicues and wavy lines and increasingly frenetic doodles. The press notes for “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” another incredibly stressful movie I loved, were similarly decorated.) Let’s not forget better living through chemistry, along with meditation, acupuncture and other forms of self-care as needed, such as skipping a night out if I’m feeling like I have no skin to protect me from the outside world. It’s also important not to isolate myself, and to have people who will call me out if I try to bail on plans at the last minute.

My poor terrified parents assured me over and over again that I wasn’t alone, that every family has their own secrets, even — especially — the ones who seem most normal, but it’s taken me decades to fully understand it. 

When I was a little kid, I thought my brain was doing completely fucked-up things that it made up just to torment me. Giving it a name gave me power over it, or at least a sense of relief that it was nameable. I read “The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing His Hands” in fourth or fifth grade, and I tried to explain it to my best friend — I was so excited that not only was I not alone in my troubles, but that there were patterns to them. She thought it was weird and kind of gross. My “cool” friends in high school told me I acted “different” because I was on Prozac. (Different from what, exactly? The miserable child I’d been years before they ever met me? Twenty years later, I am still bitter.) And therapy… therapy was for the weak. Who could possibly talk to an adult about such serious high school matters? It was as embarrassing as not drinking or smoking cigarettes, as cringe-making as when they’d sing Adam Ant’s “Goody Two-Shoes” at me.

Eventually, I did rebel. I tried to kick a hole in the claustrophobic walls of my brain with boots and black clothes, cigarettes and coffee shops, and the freakiest movies and music my friends and I could dig up in suburban Texas. The idea of Freddy Krueger used to keep me up at night, but in high school I’d drive to Forbidden Books and Video with my friends to rent things like “Nekromantik” and “El Topo” and “Gift.” The store was dark and smelled like incense, and it sold T-shirts with serial killers on them, and esoteric, dangerous books and music. This was before you could order Current 93 CDs on Amazon. You really had to work to earn your bona fides, although it wasn’t hard to be weird. I stank of cigarettes, and I told the college counselor at my prep school that I wanted to go to Sarah Lawrence, and I did, despite a fear of flying. I’d always felt strange and out of place and maybe even slightly monstrous, so cutting up my tights and dying my hair and running off to New York felt like giving so many middle fingers to my real and imagined critics.

I armed myself with all the things that used to scare me, and I scared myself with them until they were mostly powerless. I felt like a freak, so I became a freak. As an adult, I’ve shed the cigarettes and the dyed black hair (though not my overall aesthetic and fondness for occult matters), but the fear has come back. I can’t watch horror movies much at all, something that I learned the hard way during a screening of “Evil Dead“ this summer. The crush of nightlife has more than lost its appeal; the idea of navigating a dance floor crowd the way I used to, with a drink in my hand and music thundering through my body, is downright scary. Who am I without those adventures?

Aging has been great in that respect, in learning to accept that I can still be an adult and an eccentric without trying so damn hard. I no longer have to dye white streaks in my hair; they’re growing in all on their own. Watching “Gilmore Girls” is a perfectly nice way to spend a lazy Friday night, and part of getting older is accepting that I don’t always need to do things just to do them.

I’ve made myself do things that frighten me, big weird things that might make for good short stories some day, and important life things that I thought would crush me with their gravity. But I still have to face the little normal things that have frightened me all along.

2013 was a nasty crucible in which I cracked just a bit. I know, I know, that’s where the light gets in — but when it starts getting dark at 4 in the afternoon, it’s hard not to want to just get back in bed. This past year made me feel like I was at the mercy of my brain’s whims, like I was spinning out into space, untethered and alone. But one thing that’s saving me is this. Writing this, right here, letting all the sunlight in as an antiseptic is an ultimately selfish act; I gain pleasure from putting words together, and there’s a sort of masochistic glee in exposing one’s sensitive underside.

At the same time, there’s always a hope that others will read this and realize that it’s okay to feel really fucking crazy and alone, and that you don’t need to be embarrassed about getting help. You don’t have to white-knuckle it alone. Sometimes when I’m freaking out on the subway, I look around at other peoples’ faces and wonder who would be empathetic if I started losing my shit. If we stopped underground for 20 minutes or, God forbid, an hour, whose hand could I hold? And I figure that among them, there’s probably someone who would understand.

Every year, people make resolutions about losing weight or drinking more water or doing yoga or finally writing those short stories that have been rattling around. Those are all my resolutions too, but the hardest will be reprogramming my brain — day by day, second by second, stopping each shitty thought in its tracks as if I were paper-training a recalcitrant puppy. I will always be sensitive to the slosh of chemicals, serotonin or estrogen or adrenaline, but 2014 is the year I stop telling myself the same story over and over again. It’s when I start filling these fissures with gold.

Weather: I Felt Unloved As a Child

Weather: I Felt Unloved As a Child

As people all over the country careen from one temperature extreme to another, the temptation to criticize the weather is irresistible. One day it snows like heaven has a spastic colon, and the next it’s so brutally cold people leave a trail of frost bitten fingers all along the sidewalks. Practically everyone can be heard complaining that the weather is terrible and wishing it would just return to “normal.” But while venting at the weather may make us feel slightly better for a few moments, we rarely consider how such hurtful expressions make the weather feel.

“It is clear that the weather is acting out,” Dr. John Cacioppo, a meteorological-psychologist at the University of Chicago, explained. “What is not known is exactly why. There are several possible causes for the weather’s lashing out behavior. It could be that the weather has severe impulse control connected with an attention span deficit disorder. However, it’s also possible that the weather suffers from a bi-polar, manic-depressive condition. On the other hand, the weather could be experiencing post-traumatic stress and is re-enacting the occasion of the damaging event. Even more disturbingly, the weather could be a compassionless sociopath with sadistic tendencies. If that’s the case, it’s a very difficult condition to treat.”

Dr. Raymond Pierrehumbert, a psychological-meteorologist also at the University of Chicago, demurred, “With all due respect to John, he has a tendency to over-dramatize. If it rains two days in a row, he starts building an ark, and when the temperature drops below zero, he has his lab assistants draw lots to see who will be eaten first. What we’re dealing with with the weather is clearly either a case of  obsessive-compulsive disorder or, more probably in my opinion, run of the mill bulimia. Obviously, I would need to interview the weather to make a more definitive diagnosis, but with a combination of weekly therapy and anti-anxiety medication, both conditions are very amenable to treatment.”

“Ray is a world-class ass,” Dr. Cacioppo responded. “He believes the treatment for every case of meteorological distress is a pill and a pat on the back. Reach a hand out to this weather, and you’ll have it frozen off faster than a running intern with the short stick. Indeed, if ever there was a classic case for institutionalization and aggressive, surgical intervention, this is it. Or maybe, so-called Dr. Pierrehumbert has accordion band practice he has to get to. The man actually plays the accordion. ( What do you think that says about him?”

Dr. Pierrehumbert was unavailable for further comment.

A couple of weather’s former classmates offered potentially helpful insights. “Weather was always kind of withdrawn and moody,” Soil recalled. “But never like he is now.” Agreeing with that assessment was Air, who added, “I admit that, when we were young, I used to push weather around sometimes. Not to make excuses, but Water also exerted influence. But these days, we try to stay the heck away from weather because he’s become a total nut job.”

After several attempts to reach him for comment, weather sent a text that reads: “You all had your chance to be nice to me. I warned you, and I warned you. But you never loved me, so now this is what you get. Bitches.”



photo credit: Chung Ho Leung

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Science and You

Science and You

Stop mocking Nadal’s routines: psychologist

AFP-Global Times | 2014-1-22 23:43:01
By AFP – Global Times


A psychologist has urged TV commentators and fans not to mock Rafael Nadal’s repetitive mid-match “routines” because the world No.1 may be showing signs of obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Christopher Mogan complained to Australian broadcaster Channel Seven after coverage focused on Nadal’s habits, which include lining up his water bottles with the labels facing a certain way.

“What upset me is that I think it’s known that Rafa has obsessive-­compulsive indications,” he told The Age ­newspaper which is based in ­Melbourne.

“Two to 3 percent of people have this seriously disabling condition and they would be identifying with him – when he does his square walk … how he places his bottle in a row, very carefully.

“They are routines, but the point is they’re meant to try and control anxiety. It’s about getting a ‘just right’ feeling: ‘I can feel just right if I line my bottles up.'”

The 13-time Grand Slam-winner goes through an identical routine before ­every serve, involving pulling at the back of his shorts and touching each shoulder, both ears and his nose.

He also refuses to step on lines ­between points, and Lleyton Hewitt told a story during the Channel Seven coverage about how Nadal takes his shirt on and off repeatedly before leaving the locker room.

“It’s being highlighted, and it’s disrespectful to him,” Mogan said. “[Obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferers] would be very distressed by that they were being laughed at, basically.

“[Obsessive-compulsive disorder] is a mental illness, one of the most common anxiety disorders.”

According to The Age, a member of Nadal’s camp dismissed any concerns and his coach, his uncle Toni, has said the behavior is mere superstition.

He is not the only player with ­repetitive routines. Maria Sharapova goes to the back of the court and stares intently at her racquet between points, and Andy Murray wipes his face with a towel.

AFP – Global Times


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Tic Talk: Sense of humor, education make coping with Tourette’s easier – In

    MOORHEAD – Margot Brenna had hiccups her sophomore year of high school. The whole year.

    The 25-year-old Moorhead woman thought she was setting a record. Even her doctor thought she had chronic hiccups.

    But, “I knew it wasn’t hiccups; it didn’t feel like a hiccup to me. It just sounded like one,” she says.

    Turns out, Brenna’s “hiccupping” was a vocal tic, a symptom of Tourette syndrome.

    Part neurological and part psychological, in its most severe form, Tourette’s affects an estimated 200,000 Americans. But, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, as many as one in 100 exhibit milder and less complex symptoms.

    Russell Ziegler, whose 15-year-old son, Marshall, has Tourette’s, says it’s more common than you’d think.

    “I think a lot of people have Tourette’s and they don’t even realize it,” the Richardton, N.D., man says.

    When most people think of Tourette’s, they think of aggressively blurted-out obscenities. But only about 10 to 15 percent of people with Tourette’s exhibit coprolalia (randomly uttering socially inappropriate words, such as swearing).

    Dr. Tanya Harlow, a neurologist and movement disorder specialist with Sanford Health in Fargo, says most Tourette’s patients have some combination of motor and vocal tics, both simple and complex. Motor tics usually come first, and might include neck twitches, shoulder shrugs and the opening and closing of hands, like Marshall’s. Vocal tics can be any sort of sound, such as a sniff, cough or grunt.

    “Everybody’s is different. You’ll never see two people whose tics are exactly the same,” Harlow says.

    Brenna’s hiccup sounds were followed by the words “yeah,” “bye” and “rawr” (like the sound a dinosaur makes), earning her the nickname “The Raptor” among her friends at Concordia College.

    While home during a break from school, Brenna’s brother noticed her tic words and encouraged her to try to have fun with them to help her cope with the disruption they caused.

    Brenna still has the shirt he gave her that says “RAWR means ‘I love you’ in Dinosaur.”

    “I coped with it by making it fun,” she says. “I made fun of it instead of letting it take over. I think my attitude helped a lot with it.”

    The jokes also give Brenna an opportunity to explain what Tourette’s is.

    “There are so many different types of people, and we all have our own little things going on in life, and this just happens to be mine,” she says.


    Sometimes, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says, instead of involuntary curse words, Tourette’s patients repeat the words and phrases of others, which can make life difficult.

    “If you know somebody with Tourette’s, you know it’s not their choice to be making the noises or to be fidgeting,” Russell Ziegler says.

    In the most severe cases, people can actually hurt themselves with their motor tics by doing things like rupturing disks in their necks, Harlow says.

    And, an individual’s personal arsenal of tics can change, with age, stress, anxiety and excitability, as well as with external triggers, like being around other people with Tourette’s.

    “Tics are never constant,” says Marshall Ziegler, a freshman at Richardton-Taylor High School in Richardton. “They keep cycling. There are some tics that you’ll have for a while, and there are some tics you’ll have for a couple days a week.”

    Brenna’s get worse with caffeine.

    “If I’m drinking a Diet Coke or something, I’ll get a couple of them,” she says.

    People with Tourette’s are more likely to have attention and learning disabilities, as well as problems with depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the diagnosis has no bearing on their intelligence.

    According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 50 percent of Tourette’s patients have problems with inattention, hyperactivity and other symptoms characteristic of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

    Marshall Ziegler has ADD and some symptoms of OCD; Brenna had attention problems and struggled with depression and anxiety in college.

    “Anxiety, depression and Tourette’s are kind of all in the same part of the brain, so it just all hit me,” she says.

    Dr. Harlow says certain drugs can help reduce tics, but they don’t eliminate them completely, and a common side effect is drowsiness.

    Sometimes Tourette’s symptoms improve when coexisting conditions, like ADD, are well-managed.

    Although symptoms can last a lifetime, they’re usually at their worst in the early teens, with improvement in the late teens and into adulthood.

    “Overall, time is the best treatment because you’ll outgrow your tics as you get older,” Marshall Ziegler says.

    That was the case for Brenna, whose symptoms started in high school and reached their worst in college. Now her symptoms are minimal and seldom-occurring.

    “It was so bad I would ask, ‘Is this ever going to stop? Am I ever going to have a normal life and a normal job?’ Thank God it did,” she says.


    Marshall Ziegler’s case is more “typical” of Tourette’s than Brenna’s.

    According to the NINDS, the first signs of the disorder almost always start between the ages of 3 and 9 (for him, it was 6 or 7), and it’s three to four times more common in males than in females.

    Although Tourette’s tics are involuntary, they can sometimes be suppressed, concealed or otherwise managed.

    Ziegler’s dad says his son, who’s involved in speech and drama at school, recently had to stand still for a period of time as part of a play while other people were talking. He was able to do it, but later once he relaxed, his tics came back.

    “As Marshall’s gotten more mature, he’s been able to control his tics more,” his dad says.

    He’s also become more educated about his disorder. Last year, he traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend TSA Youth Ambassadors Leadership Training.

    Spending all day in a room full of kids with Tourette’s wasn’t easy.

    Dad explains:

    “When a person with Tourette’s talks about Tourette’s, their tics come out more, or if they’re with somebody that has tics themselves, they could ‘steal’ those tics from that person and their tics just happen more. So when you have all those kids that have Tourette’s in the same room all day, you can just see the level of tics increase as the day goes on.”

    Marshall Ziegler wants to use the skills he gained in the nation’s capital to talk to North Dakota students and teachers about what it’s like to live with Tourette’s in hopes of preventing other kids from being teased, like he was in elementary school.

    It was difficult for his parents to watch Ziegler get picked on, but the situation improved after he moved to Richardton, where he’s more accepted.

    Education helps, says Russell Ziegler, who is the principal at Richardton-Taylor.

    “Once the kids know about it and know what to expect, and know that it’s out of their control, it gets a lot better,” he says.

    But if he could, Marshall Ziegler wouldn’t change a thing. It’s a part of who he is.

    “I mean, sure, it’s something that’s hard to control, and it’s something that you can be easily made fun of for, of course, but if they were to come out with a cure for Tourette’s syndrome today, I wouldn’t want it,” he says.

    Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590

    shesays, health

    ‘Perfect: A Novel’ doesn’t quite live up to its title

    British author Rachel Joyce — whose debut novel “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” was met with critical acclaim, including being longlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize — has published her second novel “Perfect: A Novel,” released Jan. 14.

    “Perfect” takes the reader to an English village in 1972.

    An 11-year-old boy, Byron, discovers that the government is adding two seconds to the day and he becomes obsessed with when it will happen. One morning on the way to school, he thinks he sees it on his watch. Distracted as he tries to show his mom who is driving at the time, she hits a little girl on a bicycle.

    Instead of stopping, she drives off. Byron and his friend James are so horrified and worried about the girl that “Operation Perfect” is enacted to protect Byron’s mother from facing the consequences.

    The story of Byron alternates with another storyline set in the present time in the same English village. An adult man, Jim, lives a life confined by his daily rituals and past demons. At first, the connection between the two stories isn’t clear, but as the story goes on, it’s impossible not to make assumptions about Jim’s identity.

    When the true connection is revealed, you’ll want to go back and read everything again.

    Byron is obsessed with the addition of the two seconds. His anxiety is palpable and his frustration with his mother, Diana, and the absence of his controlling father, Seymour, is contagious. Diana is so unchanged by the hit-and-run accident that as a reader you wonder if Byron imagined it.

    The society ladies, friends of Diana, reminded me more of 1950s ladies than women of the 1970s, but maybe America was farther ahead than the English in the feminist movement at that time.

    As engrossing as Byron’s story is, the interruptions every other chapter with Jim’s story, is annoying at first.

    Jim lives in a van, is socially awkward and is overwhelmed by his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder characteristics. His story was mostly uninteresting to me until the end of the book. Jim has had a disturbing history and his co-workers try to help him. His years at the psychiatric hospital keep coming back in his mind and you wonder if his psychosis is due to his past or his electric shock treatment that he received. His story opens your eyes to the horrors of psychiatric hospitals and the patient’s life after discharge.

    “Perfect” wasn’t the “perfect” book for me, but there were many parts of it that I did love.

    Joyce’s writing is poetic and there were many thought-provoking lines that gave me pause. She is able to paint a picture with words, such as this description of an evening: “Apart from the buffeting wind, the lack of sound up here is breathtaking. For a while neither of them speaks. They just push slowly against the wind. It charges at their bodies and whistles through the long grasses with the rage of the sea. There are many stars sprinkled like embers over the sky … the horizon is rimed with orange light. It is streetlamps, but you might think it was a fire, somewhere very far away.”

    For those who appreciate literary prose and a deeply rooted storyline, “Perfect” could be just that.

    Read more reviews by Stacie Gorkow at

    When Postpartum Depression Doesn’t Go Away

    Most of the mothers Olivia Bergeron treats for postpartum depression seek her out within the first three months after giving birth, desperate for relief from feelings of sadness, anxiety and hopelessness they cannot shake.

    But for other moms, postpartum depression lasts longer.

    “I have mothers of toddlers come to me and they say, ‘This doesn’t feel good, and it hasn’t felt good for so long. I just can’t continue,’” said Bergeron, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in postpartum depression in her practice in New York City.

    A sweeping new review shines a light on this subset of women, finding that while symptoms of postpartum depression generally diminish with time, an estimated 30 to 50 percent of moms affected with the disorder continue to struggle with major depression throughout the first year after birth — and beyond. The review, its authors argue, highlights the need for clinicians to view women with postpartum depression, or PPD, as a highly heterogeneous group, and to understand that for many, there is no clear beginning or end.

    “In some mothers … depressive symptoms indeed decrease over time after childbirth, consistent with the assumption of many researchers in the field that a majority of depressive episodes after childbirth resolve within three to six months,” said Sara Casalin, a researcher with the University of Leuven in Belgium and an author on the study, in an email to The Huffington Post. “However … in a substantial proportion of mothers with PPD, levels of depression do not always significantly decrease, and particularly do not decrease to normal levels.”

    Recent estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 7 women battle postpartum depression for reasons that are not entirely known. PPD differs from the so-called “baby blues” — postpartum sadness, exhaustion and mood swings that are common among many women — both in terms of severity and timing. Baby blues generally lasts for only a few weeks after birth, while experts generally agree that postpartum depression can occur anytime within the first year.

    The new review, published in the January/February issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, considered 23 studies on postpartum depression conducted between 1985 and 2012. It found that for 38 percent of women with PPD, the disorder is the “prelude to the development of a chronic depressive disorder,” or may be the continuation of a pre-existing problem or vulnerability.

    Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress (a blog and non-profit), discovered only after she gave birth that she had been living with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Stone sought help almost immediately, after her symptoms suddenly became severe. “I didn’t know it was a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder,” she said. “I thought I had gone crazy.” In her first appointment with a psychiatrist, she was told she had been living with mental illness for years — a scenario, Stone said, that is not uncommon.

    “I don’t think the lines [between postpartum depression and chronic depression] are as bright as we’d like them to be,” she said. “I get emails all the time, asking, ‘Can I still have PPD if I’m 18 months postpartum?’ Technically, if you’re looking at the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the answer would be no, because you’re past the year postpartum. But the more likely answer is, ‘If you were never treated and your symptoms persist, it certainly could’ve started in that time period. And now it’s continued on.’”

    Experts say the new review affirms the pressing need for better screening and more widespread treatment, which can take the form of counseling, medication or a combination of both. “I find this [review] very troubling, because postpartum depression is extremely treatable, and the outcomes are much better if we treat it early,” said Bergeron. “It really speaks to the lack of screening, and that we’re not helping people early enough — or at all.”

    Stone echoed the sentiment, saying she hopes the findings empower more women to seek help.

    “This is such a difficult conversation to have. There’s so much fear and there’s so much guilt around PPD and related illnesses … for women to hear, ‘Hey! PPD can cause chronic depression’ … I feel the hearts of women around the country sinking immediately,” she said.

    But Stone wants them to focus on a different message: With screening and treatment, it doesn’t have to be this way.

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    • 1. Sleep and diet can affect fertility.

      What makes one couple particularly fertile, while another struggles for months or years to get pregnant is, in many cases, a mystery. And though infertility is often due to factors that are entirely out of a couple’s control, more and more research suggests that, in some cases, certain lifestyle factors, like sleep and diet, can make a difference.a href=”” target=”_hplink” One study found/a that women who do shift work (working outside of the typical 8 to 6 framework) may have disrupted menstrual cycles and reduced fertility, while a href=”” target=”_hplink”another found /athat getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night was linked with the best outcomes among patients undergoing IVF. In terms of nutrition, a href=”” target=”_hplink”one preliminary study/a suggested that women with polycystic ovarian syndrome hoping to conceive may benefit from eating a large breakfast and a smaller dinner in order to help with insulin levels, which can affect hormones.

    • 2. Specific fertility treatments lead to more multiple births.

      a href=”” target=”_hplink”A major report/a that delved into why the number of twins and other multiples in the U.S. is so much higher now than it was four decades ago found that a third of all twin births, and more than three-quarters of all triplet and higher-order births (i.e. multiples of three or more) were due to the use of some form of fertility treatment. But notably, the report also found that in vitro fertilization — often singled out as the main culprit — was, in fact, no longer the greatest contributor to the rate of multiples. Instead, other treatments, such as ovulatory medications, were the top cause.

    • 3. Miscarriage is more common than most people know.

      When researchers with Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx a href=”” target=”_hplink”polled a group/a of more than 1,000 men and women between the ages of 18 and 69, they found that they grossly underestimated how common miscarriage, or the loss of a fetus before the 20th week is: More than half said it occurs in fewer than 6 percent of all pregnancies, but estimates suggest it actually happens in roughly 15 to 20 percent. Moreover, many respondents wrongly identified the major causes, citing stress, oral contraceptives and physical exertion, when, in fact, chromosomal abnormalities are most often to blame. The study wasn’t meant to stoke fear, but rather to point out how much misinformation there is about miscarriage, and how that can leave the women and men affected by it feeling very alone.

    • 4. Maternal exercise benefits newborns’ brains.

      Exercise is, understandably, the last thing on many women’s minds when they’re exhausted, sick and can’t remember the last time they saw their toes, but a href=”” target=”_hplink”one study showed/a that just a bit of moderate exercise (in addition to helping with things like mood and sleep) might also boost babies’ brain activity, by contributing to a healthy fetal environment. Babies born to women who clocked at least 20 minutes of moderate cardio three times a week appeared to be better at processing certain sounds, which may have implications for overall brain development. “Our results show that the babies born from the mothers who were physically active have a more mature cerebral activation, suggesting that their brains developed more rapidly,” the study researcher told HuffPost.

    • 5. Junk food addiction may start in the womb.

      It was a a href=”” target=”_hplink”highly preliminary study done in rats/a, but an investigation out of Australia nonetheless raised interesting questions about what can happen when women eat a significant amount of junk food during pregnancy. Researchers found that rats whose mothers ate diets high in fat and sugar (think sweet cereals and potato chips) had a greater preference for high-fat foods after birth than those whose mothers ate a diet that was low in fat and sugar — and the gene expression in the reward pathways of their brains was changed, so that they had a greater predisposition to a junk food addiction later in life. Though it’s too early to say if the findings can be extrapolated to humans, the study’s main researcher argued that the “take-home message for women is that eating large amounts of junk food during pregnancy and while breastfeeding will have long-term consequences for their child’s preference for these foods.”

    • 6. Pregnancy interventions are common … and not always welcome.

      Despite the fact that roughly 60 percent of moms in the U.S. who were included in a href=”” target=”_hplink”a survey about birth practices and beliefs/a said they feel giving birth is a natural process that shouldn’t be interfered with unless it’s absolutely necessary for medical reasons. However, one-quarter of the women surveyed said they had at least three interventions during birth, from taking drugs to speed up or start labor to having a C-section. Twenty five percent of respondents who were induced or had an epidural said they felt pressured at the hospital to do so, as did 13 percent of those who had a C-section.

    • 7. Midwifery care is linked to better outcomes.

      Most women in the U.S. rely on doctors to provide their primary care during pregnancy and birth, but a growing minority rely on midwives, and a href=”” target=”_hplink”a Cochrane review/a lent some serious support to that model. The review found that consistent midwifery care throughout pregnancy was linked to better outcomes for mothers and their babies, compared to women who saw family physicians, OBs, or some mix of health care providers. Women who worked with midwives had lower rates of episiotomy and epidural useand they were less likely to deliver their baby prematurely. None of the studies cited were conducted in the U.S., but the review’s lead author argued that the findings are still relevant in this country.

    • 8. Delayed cord clamping has benefits.

      The clamping and snipping of the umbilical cord can be a memorable post-birth moment — particularly for hands-on fathers and partners — but an a href=”” target=”_hplink”investigation released in 2013 /asuggests its best done at least a minute or two after the baby is born. The review of 15 previously published trials from around the world found that delaying by just one minute can increase a newborn’s iron supplies for up to six months post-birth.

    Oconomowoc Hospital Leads in Treating Severe OCD with Expanded Center

    A Wisconsin hospital has opened a new, expanded inpatient center to treat some of the world’s most severe cases of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

    Oconomowoc-based Rogers Memorial Hospital can now treat 28 patients with severe OCD at its new residential OCD Center in Summit, which opened last month.

    Clinical Director Dr. Brad Riemann says as the fourth most common psychiatric condition in the U.S., OCD affects more than two million American adults. But about 10 percent of OCD sufferers require this specialized, in-patient treatment.

    “These are individuals whose lives have basically stopped,” he says. “They are being plagued by so many obsessions and compulsions that they’re not able to function in school or at work or in relationships and really just need assistance 24 hours a day to function.”

    Even at its most severe level, Riemann says OCD is treatable, with therapies such as cognitive-behavior therapy and exposure and response prevention. But he says there aren’t many OCD providers to meet growing patient needs.

    “The biggest concern for someone with OCD is really trying to find somebody who knows how to do this and unfortunately that is the number one disadvantage of this type of treatment, just trying to find providers who are trained and experienced in doing this,” he says.

    Rogers Memorial has one of the largest and most comprehensive OCD programs in the world. On a given day, Riemann estimates the OCD Center sees more than 80 patients, ranging from children to adults. It also provides lower levels of care for less severe cases, such as its intensive outpatient services and day treatment.

    This recent expansion marks the Center’s third since it first opened in 1999, as more patients come seeking treatment.

    But Riemann, an expert in anxiety disorders, says while OCD is common, it’s often misunderstood – thanks in no small part to depictions in TV shows and movies.

    “The public’s perception is anybody who thinks about anything a lot must have OCD,” he says. “Just because you think about something a lot or just because you do something over and over again doesn’t necessarily mean you have OCD.”

    Rather, Riemann says OCD is characterized by unwanted thoughts or impulses (obsessions) that generate a lot of anxiety. Patients might fear becoming dirty or contaminated, or doubt they did something like turn off the stove.

    This is coupled with compulsions, repetitive acts or thoughts like hand-washing or double-checking locked doors. These are used to try to stop the obsessional thoughts, control the anxiety or even prevent a perceived danger from occurring.

    Still, Riemann says there’s more public awareness about OCD today than ever before. And that’s helping some sufferers.

    “People with OCD are very embarrassed by their symptoms and I think some of the (media) programs have helped them step forward and reach out for help,” he says.

    With more patients coming forward, the need for proper OCD treatment is growing. So Riemann and his colleagues soon will share their expertise with other physicians and train them to treat the disorder.

    Coming out of the mental illness closet

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    DL Wellbeing


    January 14, 2014 – 11:58PM

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    As a rule, I do not generally tell people about the items in my mental illness closet. Like never ever, except for my close friends. So consider this a maiden voyage into the world of being a more authentic self—a world fraught with peril, but I still think it might be better.

    I have struggled with anorexia nervosa, restricting type, for over eight years now. For most of my life I have also dealt with generalised anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, dermatillomania (skin-picking), and bipolar II tendencies.  Oh, and to top it all off I started self-harming about two-and-a-half years ago, and when I’m really depressed my suicidal ideations increase. I have written about my eating disorder and self-harm anonymously on my friend’s blog, so I’m not going to rehash that all here. I’ve been in an inpatient facility where I had a nasogastric (NG) tube; my weight has fluctuated over the past eight years; I’m on three psychotropic medications that help keep the cray-cray at bay; and I’m like a freakin’ walking calorie book. I’ve been working on this whole eating disorder recovery process for almost three years now with a psychologist, dietitian, and psychiatrist.

    Furthermore, I’m a second-year nutrition graduate student and I’m working so I can earn my registered dietitian (RD) credentials. Awkward, right? I’ve been studying hardcore nutrition for over five years and I’ve only very recently been able to consistently, and adequately, feed myself. I’m awesome at helping other people eat better, but on a standard day I struggle to apply those principles to myself. But you see, I am intelligent, insightful, sensitive, and I’m going to be a kick-arse dietitian helping other patients with eating disorders when I graduate.

    I’m sharing this with you because, for better or for worse, my mental illness is an intrinsic part of who I am today—it is a biopsychosocial problem. There are experiences that people normally encounter in high school and college that I was mentally and/or physically absent from—like dances, partying, dating, and more. But, I have not disappeared from the normal developmental “curve,” and lately I’ve been moving forward in leaps and bounds – hence this post. I am owning my s**t and moving forward with what I want my life to look like. Yes, there are people who will be rude and insensitive about this to my face, or behind my back. But the way I figure is that regardless of the information that I share with certain people, if they’re going to bash me behind my back then they’re going to do that no matter what they know about me. So I don’t care because those people’s opinion of me is insignificant.

    I am slowly beginning to accept that I can make my life look however I want, but under no circumstances can I sit back and wait for things to get better. Life is what you make of it. You have a choice. I didn’t have a choice regarding the fact that I was struck with severe mental illnesses, but with awareness of the situation comes increased responsibility. I know my triggers and, therefore, I can choose how to respond to what life throws at me. Some days I cave and fail at recovery, or depression crushes me and I walk around like a zombie; but more often these days I succeed and I own that accomplishment.

    Maybe you have items that are collecting dust in your closet. Maybe they are a heavy burden on your soul and relationships, and every day you wish they didn’t exist. Maybe you feel shame for existing, shame that courses through your blood and bones. Shame thrives in secrecy, and it leeches the joy out of life. You deserve to have more in life than dusty items in your secret closet, a shame monster, and a humdrum to miserable existence.

    Just start small by finding those safe people in your life who love you despite, and for, everything that comes with you being you. You can’t do life alone, and that is OK. Draw from your support to build up your confidence, and eventually maybe you’ll take on the world. Be you, and screw what the rest of the world thinks.


    Kelsey is a 23-year-old currently working on her MS degree in nutrition, with a concentration in public health nutrition, and wants to work with eating disorder patients after earning her Registered Dietitian (RD) credentials. 

    This article was originally posted on Literally, Darling, an online magazine by and for twenty-something women, which features the personal, provocative, awkward, pop-filled and pressing issues of our gender and generation. This is an exact representation of our exaggerated selves. You can find them on Twitter @litdarling



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    I realised this was going to be just like living with a couple of middle-aged housemates. 

    Pip Doyle

    Clementine Ford.

    As many people have already pointed out, nudity in art doesn’t exist merely to provide titillation. 

    Clementine Ford

    Nicole Elphick

    After a mere two hours of the experiment the man deleted the profile in response to the barrage of ‘needlessly sexual’ and insistent message. 

    Nicole Elphick


    The bizarre claim that Richmond’s stint in juvenile detention was the result of an ‘unfortunate set of circumstances’. 

    Ruby Hamad


    The gym has always been a minefield for possible humiliation. 

    Kathleen Lee Joe

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    Obsessive-Compulsive Racism and the Black Guilt Complex

    My relationship with Joe evokes the Jane Austen line, “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”  Joe is an 82-year-old black man, a very successful retired computer engineer.  He owns homes in the most affluent areas of this city, and until recently he tooled around the southeastern U.S. in his Cessna.  Joe is a forceful man who has assumed the role of a leader among our common acquaintance.

    Joe is obsessed with white racism, and because he is black, people acquiesce to him in ways they would not for a white man.  Regardless of the setting, Joe will change the topic to excoriate white people for their racism.  I believe that Joe’s obsessional racism and compulsion to express it are fueled by guilt over the fact that he began avoiding people of his own race about 50 years ago.

    Joe was born in Brooklyn in 1931.  Despite being raised in a middle-class family (his father was a dentist), when Joe talks to young people, he does not ask them about their goals; he oppresses them with tales of the horrors of racism suffered by his father and grandfather.

    Joe’s first wife was black.  He divorced her in the 1960s and married a wealthy white woman.  Eventually she passed away, and he married another white woman.

    Joe has a consulting business.  I know of no black employees in his firm.

    Though I have repeatedly asked Joe to take me off his e-mail list, he will not do so.  A while ago, Joe sent out a group e-mail worshipful of President Obama, celebrating how great it was that “America is becoming like the rest of the world, not a white country anymore.”  I e-mailed back a few observations.  First, that the idea that a country is improved solely based on a change in the skin color of its majority is called racism.  I pointed out that even as he disparaged white people, two white patrolmen were sitting in a car at the end of his lush, mansion-lined street, risking their lives to protect him.  (Joe has a great relationship with the cops.)  And finally, I agreed that America is swiftly becoming like the rest of the world.  The president he adores is destroying the greatest constitutional republic in history, but whether that is great remains to be seen.

    Joe was recently invited to address a group of about a hundred people, almost all white, on a topic unrelated to politics or racism.  As he rose to speak, a soft groan wafted up from the assembled.  He opened his remarks with, “We can all agree that things are bad for black people here in South Carolina.”  He then lambasted the assemblage: there were so few black people in the room because of our racism.  This group is primarily progressives who suck up to black people, but nothing assuages a guilty conscience.

    The presumption of the pronoun “we” compelled me to stand up and challenge his obsessional projected blame.  As I spoke, Joe started to splutter and shake.  After the meeting, he barked at me for being rude.  Later, a lady from Mexico, a naturalized American citizen, threw her arms around me and said, “Thank you.  I am so tired of Joe’s crap.”

    Guilt has been called the unnatural emotion.  Sadness, fear, frustration, and anger are hardwired from birth.  Guilt, conscious or unconscious, arises from a comparison between that which is and that which the conditioned mind says should be.  Just as the concept of character was replaced by the morally neutral concept of personality in mid-twentieth-century psychology, the concept of guilt was largely replaced by research in the morally neutral field of anxiety.

    Guilt is associated with religion and morality.  Psychology functions as a religion replacement and is a source of anti-moral humanist doctrine.  Clinical psychological research is often implicitly antagonistic to morality and religion.  However, a recent article entitled “Pathological guilt: a persistent yet overlooked treatment factor in obsessive compulsive disorder” [1] sheds lights on the understructure of guilt of the left wing’s obsession with race and racism.

    While PG (pathological guilt) is frequently conceptualized as a major component of scrupulosity (obsessions that involve religious and/or moral content), its impact extends beyond this context. From a clinical perspective guilt may mediate most other obsessions, including aggressive, contamination, sexual, religious, symmetry/exactness, and other obsessions. It may also mediate nearly all compulsive subtypes. (snip) Interestingly, Alexander, et al. [2] found guilt, but not shame, to be associated with levels of depression.

    The author refines the relationship between guilt and OCD: “[The patients] fear that the obsessive thoughts indicate an unintended wish for them to happen.”  This finding may help explain the psychology behind black racism hoaxes.  These dynamics of guilt also explain why successful black people irrationally need to view themselves as victims of racism, though their race has actually been an advantage.

    In conclusion, Ms. Shapiro suggests, “[d]evelopment of routine standardized measures and treatment protocols targeting the role of guilt in OCD … may lead to improved treatment outcomes and fewer relapses for this debilitating and frequently chronic illness.”

    There are at least two other subtexts of the black guilt complex besides the ten-foot pole phenomenon evidenced by Joe.  There is guilt over black criminality and the collapse of the black family and the fact that some of the more prominent aspects of black popular culture are obscene, vulgar, and tedious.  And there is guilt over the African-American studies race grievance industry, which has abducted the minds of many gifted black people who would otherwise have done something useful with their lives.  Their minds were a terrible thing to waste.

    The Melissa Harris-Perry MSNBC “news” show of 12/28/13 (aka “Mean Girls Table in the Middle School Cafeteria”) exemplifies these narrative of guilt.  Pia Glenn was the panelist-songstress snidely serenading the Romney family.  She founded her sleaze-ography by portraying Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a pole-dancer.  Glenn is notable as the first dancer to win a prestigious Fred and Adele Astaire Award for a performance largely composed of stripper moves.  Her most widely recognized achievement is fornicating with Salman Rushdie, then trashing him in intimate, sweaty terms when their “love” did not last.

    Religious morality is anathema to progressives, which is why abortion is more important than education to them.  Their power depends on maintaining immorality, crime, and chaos among black people.  With parrots like Harris-Perry on their perches, progressives are succeeding.  Never having raised any “reproductions” (the progressive term for babies) of her own, she shills nonsense about “collective parenting” and performs a tampons-for-abortions stunt.

    Perhaps the greatest cost of OCD is not that it compels unnecessary behaviors, but that it prevents people from seeing the world as it is.  The Shapiro article states that OCD treatment needs to include guilt management protocols with “reparation, restitution or confession, and forgiveness.”  That can begin only with honesty about the anachronistic obsession with white racism, and when black people face the truth about the harm they are doing to themselves.

    Deborah C. Tyler tweets at @DeborahCTyler.

    [1]  Leslie J. Shapiro, LICSW OCD Institute, McLean Hospital, Annals of Clinical Psychiatry; 2011; 23(1)63-70

    [2] Alexander B, et al., “An investigation of shame and guilt in a depressed sample.” Br. J Med Psychol. 1999; 72: 323-338.

    The Stuck-home Syndrome

    Although the holy book of psychology has yet to name a disorder specifically caused by the sheer boredom of doing nothing, it is only a matter of time before the very first research on this disorder will be conducted, possibly, right here in this country.
    With the growing number of hartals, oborodhs and other threats to safety, more and more people are stuck at home. And what do they do within the confines of their own walls? They watch the news day and night (possibly because they’ve watched every movie and every TV show including the re-runs) where they see destruction and chaos happening right outside their homes. When the news is overwhelming, they think (obsessively) about piling office work, school work, failing businesses, failing relationships that have now become long distance. The list is endless.

    And this results in sky-high stress levels. Stress can have severe physical effects such as rising blood pressure, increased heart rate, blocked blood flow and reduced stomach activity. Emotional changes follow, and these include anxiety, fear, frustration, anger and in the long run, depression. Those with heart disease or cancer may find their conditions worsening due to increased stress.
    On a behavioural level, excruciating boredom can lead to psychological disorders such as lack of impulse control (for example obsessive compulsive disorder). This can lead to overeating, binge eating, drug abuse and alcohol abuse for some. Others may adopt ritualistic behaviours such as repeated cleaning, washing and organising. Boredom in some studies has also been associated with mortality, so in rare cases, you can literally be bored to death.
    Family ties and close relationships are also negatively affected when subjected to the same company in a confined space day in and out. The resulting strain and ill feeling may be a major contributor to stress. If one lives alone, home becomes like a solitary confinement cell in prison, and this can also cause stress, sleeplessness, insecurity and the anxiety of being trapped alone with one’s thoughts.
    So what could be the solution? Keep busy. Do as much work as possible from home. Read the news but don’t obsess over it. Listening to music can help de-stress, so taking a few hours off each day to listen to music is helpful. Make lists of things that need doing but you never get around to because of your hectic schedule and start doing them. Take naps. Reading a good book always helps take your mind off your surroundings. Try not to get into heated political debates or into discussing the future of the country with your fellow inmates, err… I mean housemates. Send out long overdue emails, get in touch with people. Try your hand at cooking — it’s a major de-stressor. Exercise, take a walk around your house or the rooftop (if possible). If you cannot sleep, don’t take sleeping pills or lie around focusing on depressing thoughts. Get up, walk around, do something to tire yourself out and then try again. Eat healthy; eating junk will only make you feel worse. Take care of yourself, wash your hair, give yourself a manicure and pedicure, put on a facemask and try to relax. Start a blog about how to keep sane in a lockdown situation. Plan a vacation. Heck, go somewhere out of the country if you can afford it. If you have nothing else to do, stalk people on Facebook; at least it kills time.
    It is important to stay focused on the positives, appreciate that you are safe in your home and not inside a burning bus. Keep reminding yourself that you’ve been through worse, and that this too, will pass.

    Anika Hossain is a reporter for the Features section of The Daily Star. She believes she can relate to those with mental health issues as she has worked as a residential counsellor in an asylum a few years ago.