Breaking the myths behind Mindfulness practice for the benefit of Trauma Survivors

1. Don’t need to close your eyes during mindfulness meditation.

2. Don’t need to sit still to do mindfulness meditation.

3. Staying present in the moment non-judgmentally, even while walking, eating or working, is what is truly being mindful.

4. Don’t need to shut off your mind as your brain is always going to be active, especially with a trauma history.

5. Don’t need to focus on your breath. Trauma victims find this especially triggering with unpredictable outcomes.

6. Mindfulness meditation is not for quick turnaround of results.

7. Mindfulness meditation is not for everyone!

Cognitive distortions

Cognitive distortions arising from negative core beliefs are something to be deeply analyzed on a daily basis, for the automatic thoughts crossing our minds!

Taking a step back and looking at what just happened in our mind is all it takes to stay present with ourself and really being true to our personality.

Measuring the possibility of our core beliefs to be even slightly incorrect based on the existing evidence shown by the people around us and other environmental factors is very critical!

Here’s to looking closely at our thoughts that sometimes make no sense in hindsight! Lol!

Have a great weekend!

Best,

Srivi

Infertility and Mental Health

Infertility is perceived as a problem across virtually all cultures and societies and affects an estimated 10%-15% of couples of reproductive age. In recent years, the number of couples seeking treatment for infertility has dramatically increased due to factors such as postponement of childbearing in women, development of newer and more successful techniques for infertility treatment, and increasing awareness of available services. This increasing participation in fertility treatment has raised awareness and inspired investigation into the psychological ramifications of infertility. Consideration has been given to the association between psychiatric illness and infertility. Researchers have also looked into the psychological impact of infertility and of the prolonged exposure to intrusive infertility treatments on mood and well being. There is less information about effective psychiatric treatments for this population; however, there is some data to support the use of psychotherapeutic interventions.

Psychological Impact of Infertility

Parenthood is one of the major transitions in adult life for both men and women. The stress of the non-fulfillment of a wish for a child has been associated with emotional sequelae such as anger, depression, anxiety, marital problems, sexual dysfunction, and social isolation. Couples experience stigma, sense of loss, and diminished self-esteem in the setting of their infertility (Nachtigall 1992). In general, in infertile couples women show higher levels of distress than their male partners (Wright 1991; Greil 1988); however, men’s responses to infertility closely approximates the intensity of women’s responses when infertility is attributed to a male factor (Nachtigall 1992). Both men and women experience a sense of loss of identity and have pronounced feelings of defectiveness and incompetence.

Psychological Distress, Psychiatric Illness and Infertility: Cause or Effect?

Stress, depression and anxiety are described as common consequences of infertility. A number of studies have found that the incidence of depression in infertile couples presenting for infertility treatment is significantly higher than in fertile controls, with prevalence estimates of major depression in the range of 15%-54% (Domar 1992; Demyttenaere 1998; Parikh 2000; Lukse 1999; Chen 2004). Anxiety has also been shown to be significantly higher in infertile couples when compared to the general population, with 8%-28% of infertile couples reporting clinically significant anxiety (Anderson 2003; Chen 2004; Parikh 2000).

The causal role of psychological disturbances in the development of infertility is still a matter of debate. A study of 58 women from Lapane and colleagues reported a 2-fold increase in risk of infertility among women with a history of depressive symptoms; however, they were unable to control for other factors that may also influence fertility, including cigarette smoking, alcohol use, decreased libido and body mass index (Lapane 1995).

Proposed mechanisms through which depression could directly affect infertility involve the physiology of the depressed state such as elevated prolactin levels, disruption of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and thyroid dysfunction. One study of 10 depressed and 13 normal women suggests that depression is associated with abnormal regulation of luteinizing hormone, a hormone that regulates ovulation (Meller 1997). Changes in immune function associated with stress and depression may also adversely affect reproductive function (Haimovici 1998). Further studies are needed to distinguish the direct effects of depression or anxiety from associated behaviors (e.g., low libido, smoking, alcohol use) that may interfere with reproductive success. Since stress is also associated with similar physiologic changes, this raises the possibility that a history of high levels of cumulative stress associated with recurrent depression or anxiety may also be a causative factor.

Psychological Distress and Infertility Treatment

While many couples presenting for infertility treatment have high levels of psychological distress associated with infertility, the process of assisted reproduction itself is also associated with increased levels of anxiety, depression and stress (Leiblum 1987). A growing number of research studies have examined the impact of infertility treatment at different stages, with most focusing on the impact of failed IVF trials. Hynes and colleagues assessed women at presentation for IVF and then following failure of IVF. They found that women presenting for IVF were more depressed, had lower self-esteem and were less confident than a control group of fertile women and, after a failed IVF cycle, experienced a further lowering of self-esteem and an increase in depression relative to pre-treatment levels (Hynes 1992). Comparisons between women undergoing repeated IVF cycles and first-time participants have also suggested that ongoing treatment may lead to an increase in depressive symptoms (Thiering 1993). The data, however, is still controversial since other studies have found minimal psychological disturbance induced by the infertility treatment process or IVF failure (Paulson 1988; Boivin 1996). In light of the discrepancy in results, there has been increasing interest in the factors that contribute to dropout from infertility treatment since this population is often not included or decline to participate in studies. Whereas cost or refusal of physicians to continue treatment have been cited as reasons for discontinuing treatment, recent research suggests that a significant number of dropouts are due to psychological factors (Domar 2004; Hammarberg 2001; Olivius 2004).

The outcome of infertility treatment may also be influenced by psychological factors. A number of studies have examined stress and mood state as predictors of outcome in assisted reproduction. The majority of these studies support the theory that distress is associated with lower pregnancy rates among women pursuing infertility treatment (Boivin 1995, Thiering 1993, Demytenaere 1998, Smeenk 2001, Sanders 1999).

Psychological Interventions

In light of data suggesting that psychological symptoms may interfere with fertility, success of infertility treatment, and the ability to tolerate ongoing treatment, interest in addressing these issues during infertility treatment has grown. Some interventions designed to alleviate the symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety in infertile women and men have been researched.

Several studies suggest that cognitive behavioral group psychotherapy and support groups decrease stress and mood symptoms, as well as increase fertility rates. In a study by Domar and colleagues of 52 infertile women, a 10-week group behavioral treatment program significantly reduced anxiety, depression and anger (Domar 1992). In a year-long follow-up study, Domar compared pregnancy rates of women undergoing assisted reproduction who were randomized to a group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) designed to decrease depression and anxiety, a support group, or to no group treatment. Viable pregnancy rates were 55% for the cognitive behavioral group, 54% for the support group and 20% for the controls (Domar 2000). A study where the intervention group received couples counseling directed toward education and addressing stress throughout their IVF cycle and the control group received only routine medical care, the intervention patients had lower anxiety and depression scores, in addition to significantly higher pregnancy rates (Terzioglu 2001).

Although there have not been systematic studies in infertile women examining the impact of other types of psychotherapy, treatments that decrease psychiatric symptoms and stress in the general population will likely benefit this population.

While there is little data regarding the pharmacologic treatment of patients with infertility, pharmacotherapy remains an important option for women and men who develop depression in the context of infertility and its treatment. Many women avoid pharmacologic treatment for fear that medication may impact their fertility or may affect the outcome of their pregnancy; however, there are no data to suggest that commonly used antidepressants negatively affect fertility. Furthermore, data accumulated over the last decade suggest that certain antidepressants may be used safely during pregnancy.

Source:

 

Depression & Anxiety help via Mindfulness

 

Great Books to read for Depression & Anxiety help via Mindfulness

MindfulWayThroughDepression

 

MindfulWayThroughAnxiety

Good Luck!

Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms

CreditsJonathan M. Metzl, MD, PhDcorresponding author and Kenneth T. MacLeish, PhD

Abstract:

Four assumptions frequently arise in the aftermath of mass shootings in the United States: (1) that mental illness causes gun violence, (2) that psychiatric diagnosis can predict gun crime, (3) that shootings represent the deranged acts of mentally ill loners, and (4) that gun control “won’t prevent” another Newtown (Connecticut school mass shooting). Each of these statements is certainly true in particular instances. Yet, as we show, notions of mental illness that emerge in relation to mass shootings frequently reflect larger cultural stereotypes and anxieties about matters such as race/ethnicity, social class, and politics. These issues become obscured when mass shootings come to stand in for all gun crime, and when “mentally ill” ceases to be a medical designation and becomes a sign of violent threat.

mental health guns

Conclusions:

Our brief review suggests that connections between mental illness and gun violence are less causal and more complex than current US public opinion and legislative action allow. US gun rights advocates are fond of the phrase “guns don’t kill people, people do.” The findings cited earlier in this article suggest that neither guns nor people exist in isolation from social or historical influences. A growing body of data reveals that US gun crime happens when guns and people come together in particular, destructive ways. That is to say, gun violence in all its forms has a social context, and that context is not something that “mental illness” can describe nor that mental health practitioners can be expected to address in isolation.

To repeat, questioning the associations between guns and mental illness in no way detracts from the dire need to stem gun crime. Yet as the fractious US debate about gun rights plays out—to uncertain endpoint—it seems incumbent to find common ground beyond assumptions about whether particular assailants meet criteria for specific illnesses, or whether mental health experts can predict violence before it occurs. Of course, understanding a person’s mental state is vital to understanding his or her actions. At the same time, our review suggests that focusing legislative policy and popular discourse so centrally on mental illness is rife with potential problems if, as seems increasingly the case, those policies are not embedded in larger societal strategies and structural-level interventions.

Current literature also suggests that agendas that hold mental health workers accountable for identifying dangerous assailants puts these workers in potentially untenable positions because the legal duties they are asked to perform misalign with the predictive value of their expertise. Mental health workers are in these instances asked to provide clinical diagnoses to social and economic problems.114 In this sense, instead of accepting the expanded authority provided by current gun legislation, mental health workers and organizations might be better served by identifying and promoting areas of common cause between clinic and community, or between the social and psychological dimensions of gun violence.115 Connections between loaded handguns and alcohol, the mental health effects of gun violence in low-income communities, or the relationships between gun violence and family, social, or socioeconomic networks are but a few of the topics in which mental health expertise might productively join community and legislative discourses to promote more effective medical and moral arguments for sensible gun policy than currently arise among the partisan rancor.

Put another way, perhaps psychiatric expertise might be put to better use by enhancing US discourse about the complex anxieties, social and economic formations, and blind assumptions that make people fear each other in the first place. Psychiatry could help society interrogate what guns mean to everyday people, and why people feel they need guns or reject guns out of hand. By addressing gun discord as symptomatic of deeper concerns, psychiatry could, ideally, promote more meaningful public conversations on the impact of guns on civic life. And it could join with public health researchers, community activists, law enforcement officers, or business leaders to identify and address the underlying structural116 and infrastructural117issues that foster real or imagined notions of mortal fear.

Our review also suggests that the stigma linked to guns and mental illness is complex, multifaceted, and itself politicized, in as much as the decisions about which crimes US culture diagnoses as “crazy” and which it deems “sane” are driven as much by the politics and racial anxieties of particular cultural moments as by the workings of individual disturbed brains. Beneath seemingly straightforward questions of whether particular assailants meet criteria for particular mental illnesses lay ever-changing categories of race, gender, violence, and, indeed, of diagnosis itself.

Finally, forging opinion and legislation so centrally on the psychopathologies of individual assailants makes it harder for the United States to address how mass shootings reflect group psychologies in addition to individual ones.16 Persons in the United States live in an era that has seen an unprecedented proliferation of gun rights and gun crimes, and the data we cite show that many gun victims are exposed to violence in ways that are accidental, incidental, relational, or environmental. Yet this expansion has gone hand in hand with a narrowing of the rhetoric through which US culture talks about the role of guns and shootings.118 Insanity becomes the only politically sane place to discuss gun control. Meanwhile, a host of other narratives, such as displaced male anxiety about demographic change, the mass psychology of needing so many guns in the first place, or the symptoms created by being surrounded by them, remain unspoken.

Mass shootings represent national awakenings and moments when seeming political or social adversaries might come together to find common ground, whether guns are allowed, regulated, or banned. Doing so, however, means recognizing that gun crimes, mental illnesses, social networks, and gun access issues are complexly interrelated, and not reducible to simple cause and effect. Ultimately, the ways our society frames these connections reveal as much about our particular cultural politics, biases, and blind spots as it does about the acts of lone, and obviously troubled, individuals.

Postpartum psychosis: mental illness after childbirth should not be taboo

Credits: By _Naomi_, November 1, 2012

blogger-naomi

Think of any advert you have seen recently portraying a new mum and her baby. I’m guessing the room in the background will be white with gleaming surfaces, a distinct lack of sicky muslins or half-drunk cups of tea, and most definitely mum will be back in her pre-pregnancy jeans. Mum and baby will smile and cuddle and laugh. I guess we all know that life won’t really look like an advert but a subtle expectation pervades; motherhood will make you rapturously happy.

Three days after my baby daughter was born, I was indeed rapturously happy. Surrounded by flowers, a swaddled bundle in my arms, I felt incredible. In fact, I was so happy and overwhelmed with love that I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stop my mind and wrote endless notes about my gorgeous daughter and her special place in the world. Seven days later I would be admitted to a psychiatric ward, convinced that I had a mission from God to bring about the end of the world.

I was suffering from postpartum psychosis

I was suffering from postpartum psychosis (also known as puerperal psychosis). Although 1-2 in 1000 women experience this condition after childbirth, I had never heard of it and neither had my husband or family. You won’t find it mentioned in antenatal classes, or in baby books, or even in leaflets about postnatal depression – save perhaps a scant sentence. But when my husband googled it to find out more, he came across horror stories of child murder and suicide.

Stigma hits both ways for postpartum psychosis. Firstly, the reality of this illness is hidden from view in pregnancy. Midwives are taught very little about it and it just feels too terrible to mention to expectant mothers that they might become seriously ill. So we don’t talk about the early warning signs: sleeplessness, feeling very high and elated, or experiencing dramatic mood swings, talking or writing a lot, or developing unusual beliefs. And then the signs are missed and tragedies happen. Secondly, women with postpartum psychosis are portrayed as monsters on the internet with stories focusing on every salacious detail of the tragic death of a mother and child.

The reality is that many women, like me, go on to make a full recovery.

Even today, seven years from my episode of postpartum psychosis, it is difficult to find a media story focusing on the remarkable recovery that most women and families make. BBC Newsnight recently featured a 15-minute film on the condition, yet each story featured risk to a baby’s safety. The reality is that many women, like me, go on to make a full recovery.

Nowadays, as a mental health educator, I have the chance to tell my story to medical students and health professionals who will work with new mothers in the future. I hope that my message will be clear: severe mental illness after childbirth should not be a taboo. We need to talk about it so that we can recognise, treat quickly and prevent tragedy