Category Archives: Depression

Botox Study is Laughable

A recent “non-study” purported to conclude that Botoxing the muscles between your eyeballs keeps you from frowning which feeds back to keep you from feeling bad, down, or negative.

In other words, if you can’t frown, you can’t be unhappy!

This is so stupid that it makes me wonder if the Botox industry paid this guy to come out with this as a means of changing the view of Botox from “cosmetic” to “injectable” psychotherapy.

You wanna be happy for the rest of your life?  Well, you can do that even if all your “emotion” muscles work, and even if you are not particularly attractive.  Anyone walking around in a deliriously joyful stupor just because they got a little plastic surgery is unbelievably superficial to start out with.
 
A few times a year, I get my frown lines Botoxed, simply because I furrow that line deeper and deeper when I think or concentrate.  It gives the impression to others that I’m frowning, when I’m perfectly content with the universe.  Besides, a furrow that deep takes a lot of makeup to fill in that crevice, so I think of it as a cost-cutting measure too (kidding)!

Right now, I’m writing this as I see the sun popping up from behind a mountain.  I am swept away by the majesty of this scene, and grateful that I am alive another day to experience this sunrise.  That makes me happy.   Being happy is mostly about what you choose to take in and what you’re willing to give out.
 
Forget stupid studies about frown lines….they’re meaningless against the beauty of a sunrise.

A Sad Slide to Suicide

Former “Growing Pains” star Andrew Koenig killed himself, presumably with some chemical, and he did this in a park where he used to go to “chill” or “meditate.” Apparently, he stopped taking his anti-depression medications, which then allowed him to sink into a very dark place. That means his decision to commit suicide was a considered one.

He disappeared on February 14, Valentine’s Day. I wondered about that when I heard that. Here he was, with no wife and family on Valentine’s Day: alone, with a minor career (and he was also the son of a famous actor who was on the original “Star Trek” TV series). It seems he had also turned down a job offered by a friend, and when that friend was away, Andrew collected all the gifts his friend had given him over the years, and then made that last trip to the park.

Of course, his parents are suffering deeply, but whatever emotions they’re experiencing, guilt should not be one of them. The truth is that if a person is hell-bent on killing themselves, they will find a way.

The most common cause of suicide is an underlying mental disorder, followed by alcoholism as the second cause, and drug abuse as the third most common cause. Financial difficulties or other undesirable situations can add stress too. Over 1 million people commit suicide every year, and it’s the leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 35.

I’ve listed below all the warning signs, but people who don’t clearly show these signs can kill themselves as well, and people who show most of these signs may not. There is no “cut and dry” signal, but there are indications which serve as a warning. When you’re aware that someone is LIKELY to kill themselves, please call 911 and have that person taken to a psychiatric ward at your local hospital. Physicians have the legal option of a 3 day “hold” to discern whether or not that person is a threat to themselves or others. When that determination is made, the potentially suicidal individual may very likely be put in a “forced commitment” status for treatment. Even that doesn’t insure that they will never commit suicide, so it is good to be alert and know how to respond.

Here’s an easy way to remember the warning signs of suicide (this is from the American Association of Suicidology):
IS PATH WARM?
I   Ideation
S  Substance abuse

P  Purposelessness
A  Anxiety
T  Trapped
H  Hopelessness

W  Withdrawal
A  Anger
R  Recklessness
M  Mood changes

If you observe these, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-8255 for a referral. You can find out more information at http://www.suicidology.org

Children Today Are Overly Anxious and Depressed

There’s a new study out from San Diego State University saying that children and young adults today are the most anxious and depressed of the last seventy years.

I’m not surprised at all.  Having too many choices is chaos.  Morals and values have been sacrificed in favor of infamy and fortune.  When sports heroes are infamous and rich because they took drugs to increase their performance, that is demoralizing to kids who work hard to aspire to athletic greatness simply by practicing a lot.  When other young people get famous for flaunting drugs and anti-social behavior, it makes it difficult for the kids who simply work hard.

When you have a major Hollywood producer/director putting together a movie to excuse and explain Hitler (in context, he says), you have a generation that has no clear understanding of evil.

When you have military dying in the fields of foreign countries because we are at war with a religious ideology that wants to terminate western civilization, and one of their combatants is caught and tried only as a common criminal, you have a generation that is confused.

When you have a culture that does not support the basic building block of education – the family – we have children turning to equally confused peers and pop culture.

When the people in positions of power, authority and fame turn out to be of little character, you have a generation that doesn’t know what to respect or whom to emulate.

It all matters.

Our kids pay the price.

Overdosing on Antidepressants

Antidepressant drug use in the United States doubled between 1998 and 2005, according to a report in The Archives of General Psychiatry.  But I’m telling you that there is no way in the world that the incidence of profound depression doubled in that same period.  No way.

About 13 million people (or 6% of the population) were prescribed an antidepressant in 1996.  By 2006, that number rose to more than 27 million people.  Again, there’s no way that the incidence of profound depression increased that much. 

Try this number on for size:  more than 164 million prescriptions were written in 2008, totaling almost $10 BILLION  in US sales.  Unlike the incidence of profound depression, I believe that the incidence of making money off prescriptions for depression did indeed double between 1996 and 2005.

As a licensed psychotherapist, I can tell you with great candor that the psychological and pharmaceutical communities have a huge investment in income – plain and simple.  It’s been amazing to me (and I have commented on this publicly for thirty years) how there are trends in diagnoses and grandiose treatments.  For a while, everyone was agoraphobic; then every adult claimed to have some level of ADD; then there was a trend toward multiple personality disorder.  Now, being bi-polar is the illness of choice, or so it seems.

I’m going to state the obvious:  yes, there are people clinically depressed to such a severe level that medicine might be the difference between life and suicide.  I have recommended interim treatment for people who seem to be suffering profoundly.

However, this “doubling” issue is occurring for a number of reasons:  1) trends in the psych industry; 2) money-making efforts by pharmaceutical companies (notice all the TV commercials); 3) the growing weakness of the American public to deal with frustrations and setbacks; 4) the social acceptance of copping to a mental illness to explain various personality/behavioral issues; 5) insurance companies not paying for psychotherapy (requiring high out-of-pocket expenses for treatment).  The bottom line?  Numerous studies show that therapy is as effective (if not more effective) than drug use alone.

I’ve become more and more concerned about people trying to “cure” what is normal.  I’ve said this on my program many times:  being sad and deflated over job or love losses is normal; having childhood disruptions in one’s life is normal; hanging on to them as an identity, attempt at attention, and as a cop-out for responsibilities is not accepting (and not enduring) what is normal

A sixteen year old male called my radio program the other day.  He was sad that “the love of his life” dumped him, and he didn’t see any future for himself.  I told him that what he was calling the “love of his life” at 16 was not what he would choose as the love of his life at 26.  I also told him that this adolescent “drama” was normal, and that he would go through it a number of times, before he truly recognized who would ultimately be the “love of his life.”  His attitude lightened up as he began to understand what normal meant.  I told him to distract himself with sports (releasing powerful endorphins) and friends, without harping on his situation, and it would pass…until the next time.  That is just simply what life is like.

We have people who can’t take a joke, can’t tolerate a difference of opinion (after George W. Bush was re-elected, a psychologist in my area published an article talking about the massive depression in his patients who were Democrats – I was stunned and horrified that people would seek therapy for an election disappointment), who call everything “harassment,” who go through difficulties and say that the rest of their lives are “ruined” because of that event, who say they can’t function anymore in life because somebody pushed them too close to their actual potential, and so on. 

Frankly, I worry that Americans are getting spiritually and psychologically weaker – voluntarily – because victimhood is attractive, and because there is a group for every type of victim that will help them to prolong the suffering.

Burnout Prevention

A caller with a seemingly simple question has been haunting my mind since Monday.  The caller was a stay-at-home mom with four children under the age of six.  I thought I was heroic chasing after one child who never napped.  I can’t imagine four little tykes going in different directions, all with different personalities and needs.  Wow.

After asking some sneaky questions, I discerned that she was – in two words – BURNED OUT.  It’s difficult to get around the understandable embarrassment or shame that a mother has for even thinking that she wished she were on another planet away from the children for a while.  But this is a totally understandable and normal reaction to a lovely, but draining, situation.

When a woman is at a job, she can take a number of bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, and a lunch break which may even include shopping (a great tension releaser!).  When taking care of a number of children whose needs are relentless and inconsistent, it’s easy to see how one brain and heart can be overwhelmed if the kids don’t nap – mine never did, and I remember feeling mentally exhausted.

Mothers do, but shouldn’t, feel guilt at not always being thrilled out of their ears to be taking care of their children.  My first argument is that there is no one with any career or activity who doesn’t regularly feel the same way.  Human beings need breaks – changes of scenery and input – and activities that help let off steam and revive one’s sense of joy in life.  That’s why in my book, In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms, I’ve written about the necessity of taking guilt-free breaks – and taking them before you break!

First, to the husbands:  Make sure you command and demand that your beloved wife and mother of your progeny go out with her girlfriends, go have a one-hour bath with bubbles and wine, or go ride her bike with a bike club for a morning – something so that she can feel revived and relaxed.  Plan it for her if she’s stubborn (the stubbornness usually comes from feeling guilty).  Tell her that a GOOD mother takes care of herself so that the “giving” flows more readily.

Second, to you mothers:  Grandma is useful for a break while you do nothing or something that relaxes you.  I told this caller to get one of those carriers that attaches to a bicycle, and get a child bike seat affixed behind her bike seat – that takes care of three kids right there, and one is in kindergarten.  Take ‘em all on a bike ride to picnic or relax in a park – that’s only one of the things I did with my child.  Turn on an exercise video and dance along with the music to get a workout – the kids will join in, or play next to you with their toys. 

My message is:  no guilt.  Any profession has tools that must be taken care of to keep working properly:  a computer, a saw and hammer…whatever.  For us mothers, the tool is ourselves.  So, no guilt.  Take it as a responsibility to keep yourself loose and refreshed.

My final message is that being home with your children opens up many opportunities if you think out of the perimeter of your property.  It isn’t supposed to be a “work farm.”  It’s supposed to be a joyous home.  Oh, and here’s why that caller stuck in my mind:  I heard a depth of sadness in her voice that seriously worried me, and I realized that many of you moms try so hard that you forget to take care of yourselves.  In doing so, you lose contact with your mission in the first place.  When that happens, your children miss you.

So, ladies, turn on that music and dance and sing around the house and enjoy!

Disgusted with Octuplet Mom

I am writing this blog on Nadya Suleman, octuplet mom, under duress.  I was told that a significant number of you wished for my point of view or comments on this occurrence.  My answer was, “Do I really have to comment on the obvious?” 

I am disgusted with this woman for being educated in child developmental psychology and still intentionally robbing children of a dad (she had in-vitro fertilization with embryos from sperm donor) and the opportunity to get the kind of attention one out of fourteen children clearly won’t get.

I’m disgusted with the clinic and physicians who, knowing she already had six children and no husband or reasonable means of support (except for workman’s comp lawsuits), and frankly, must be somewhat emotionally troubled, still impregnated her with multiple embryos — more than the recommended number for a woman under the age of 35.

I’m disgusted with the media for making a big deal about these freak situations without proper judgment and criticism and for starting programs for “freebee” bailouts with charitable support.

I’m disgusted with Child Protective Services which I don’t think has even considered taking these children away from this self-avowed baby-mill and placing them up for adoption into two-parent households, with a married mom and dad.

Every Mother’s Day my psyche is assaulted with front page stories coast-to-coast about unwed mothers’ joy and glee and Mother-of-the-Year Awards to celebrity moms who clearly put their careers before their children (bless those who are “nannied!”).

So – this blog is in honor of and directed to the women who do it right: get married to good man who can support a family; wait until they’re settled and have the emotional where-with-all to sacrifice in order to receive the huge rewards of mothering their own children.

I’m sorry the media doesn’t care about you…but your husband, your children, Dr. Laura, and a society grateful for the wonderful human beings you raise do care about you.