mental illness

wild~hairwild~hair Registered Users Posts: 9,890 Curl Neophyte
A few recent posts have got me wondering ...

I know mental illness is a lot more prevalent than we realize, because many people don't talk about it. Whenever I do discuss it with friends, I am always stunned at just how many people's lives are affected by it.

So I thought I'd do a poll. Feel free to elaborate on your response in a post, or not.

My answer is 3. But as few as 10 years ago I would have answered 4, because no one talked about any of it.
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Comments

  • KrazyblondegurlKrazyblondegurl Registered Users Posts: 1,008
    I voted #2.

    I know several people, one being a good friend, who are on antidepressants.

    My friend's brother killed himself last spring. He had bipolar disorder. I didn't even know he suffered from it until after his death. It was a huge shock.

    It's true, mental illness is so much more prevalent than what we even know.
  • dia99dia99 Registered Users Posts: 1,998
    I think there are a lot of people who have mental illness but it is undiagnosed. In my own case, my brother, a few of my cousins (3), my aunt (committed suicide), and even my mom. This may seem like a lot, but on my dad's side there were 19 siblings, and there are over 100 1st/2nd cousins. My mom is a whole different story and her mom was reportedly crazy and her dad was institutionalized before. Funny/sad but true statement against intermarriage - my mom's paternal side intermarried (select family members) to keep the "white" features after they became free. They were able to pass, and if one of them couldn't (looked too Native American, none of them looked black) they had to move to another state. Intermarriage and fear for your life can make you crazy for sure! :shock:

    Out of those 6 (not counting grandparents), only one was diagnosed. My brother is still not diagnosed even though he's been to jail, institutions, court-mandated therapy as a child, etc. With all of my family members, they have been able to maintain a sense of normalcy as long as they were in controlled environments. If you take anything out of the equation, they do something "crazy" then the family takes them back in and the process starts over.

    All of my generation (my brother and my cousins) with mental illness have problems with substance abuse now, mainly alcohol. They *need* it to stay calm when they're not having to function for work or something.

    I won't say I'm afraid of it, but I am definitely aware and conscious of it. I will be looking for signs with Dia, and I look for signs in myself. I don't want to become paranoid or overly sensitive, but if I see anything I'd rather catch it early and get treatment than wait around hoping things will get better. I'm a strong advocate of therapy and prescription medication when necessary. Most mentally ill people I know (family or otherwise) end up self-medicating anyway if they're not on meds, and it doesn't help them. I'd rather they take controlled doses that can actually help them live a "normal" life.

    Anyway, just my two cents. The more I write, the more deep dark secrets I unveil. I'm giving away all of my mom's book fodder. 8)
    People rise to the standard expected of them. GC
  • KurleeKurlee Registered Users Posts: 1,354
    Depends on what defines mental illness.

    Having schizophrenia is having a mental illness to me. Depression is not in a way; Seems almost all people suffer from this one time in their life, at least. Not all in a very serious way, but still.

    But I guess depression is a mental illness, although one that isn’t a life long thing.
    Didn’t mean to argue about this or anything. Just thoughts. I think that a lot of people look at mental illnesses differently.

    So if depression is a mental illness in this case, I voted 3. I have been depressed and I know many others who have too. Family, friends and patients (I have worked as a psychiatric nurse for several years.)
    ETA: Oh and my dad's ex. wife has Borderline Personality Disorder. NOT fun to grow up with.


    Sorry about the weird “elaboration”.
  • medussamedussa Registered Users Posts: 12,993
    My MIL, BIL and SIL are all Bipolar. It's a devastating illness for eveyone involved.
  • three rivers curlythree rivers curly Registered Users Posts: 994
    My mother. She refuses to get treatment and generally lies to therapists, trying to make herself just look like a victim.
    Better everyone think your a fool, than to open your mouth and prove them right.

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  • goldencurlygoldencurly Registered Users Posts: 2,385
    I have suffered from anxiety on and off for years. The last year of my marriage, I went to a psychiatrist at least once a week. My exhusband is bipolar and refused treatment and drove me batty to the point I needed help. Therapy was wonderful. It taught me to see things from an objective point of view. I learned to look my exhusband in the face and tell him he was mentally ill AND that was no reason or excuse for verbally and mentally abusing me.

    The thing about mental illness is we have to deal with the stigma. One poster said that depression isn't mental illness. Everyone deals with sadness, but that is not depression. Depression is an overwhelming sense of hopelessness that affects your quality of life over a period of time, normally more than a couple of weeks. Anything shorter than that is viewed as "a rough time" and not technically mental illness. But actual depression is. And that's ok. We need to stop thinking of mental illness as a weakness of character. That's not what it is. It's an illness just like my asthma. It has to be treated and controlled for my quality of life to be what it should be.

    I have taken prescription meds for my anxiety. I took Zoloft every day for 1 1/2 years when I was married and in therapy and living in hell. Therapy and medication helped me to see my world clearly and make rational decisions on what was best for me and my daughter.

    A year ago, I went back on a shortterm medication called BuSpar when I was having a really rough time that was going to last awhile. Even though the situation lasted for months, I only needed meds for about 3 weeks.

    Accepting who and what I am without shame or the negative conitation of being labeled mentally ill has helped my self-esteem (which took one nasty beating in a long abusive marriage) and my outlook for my mental stability for the future. I may have to seek treatment again. And I hope I can do that without giving a hoot what anyone thinks of me or my anxiety, yes, my mental illness.

    I mentioned self-esteem. Mental illness is not the result of low self-esteem. Don't confuse the two. Self-esteem is how I see myself. Mental illness is when my body reacts chemically to a bad situation or a traumatizing event and begans a chemical cycle I cannot willfully break without treatment and medical intervention.

    :gets off soapbox:
    ________
    Kyoko
  • SuZenSuZen Registered Users Posts: 1,595
    My mom had an episode of depression when I was about 12 -- we didn't recognize it for what it was, and I'm sure she was never diagnosed. She stayed in bed for months and couldn't do anything, though she wasn't physically ill.

    And I have a cousin who has had some very bad problems with depression. She's better now, but she needs medication. Our family tends to be of the "ignore it and it will stop" school of dealing with this sort of thing, unfortunately.
  • Jenny CJenny C Registered Users Posts: 1,195
    My aunt has schizophrenia. She's in her seventies now so she's had it a long time. I know she spent time in a mental hospital but that was years ago.

    My father hasn't offically been diagnosed but he's pretty obviously suffering from depression. He does some really kooky **** and it's aggravating because I want to smac him somtimes and say, "why can't you act normal???" . He takes Effexor (sp?) but I don't think it's the right drug or the right dosage for him. He was going to therapy for a while, but he wasn't really into it and he quit.
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  • CynaminbearCynaminbear Registered Users Posts: 4,476 Curl Connoisseur
    Depression is a mental illness. It runs in my family, and not the short term stuff, either. I've suffered since childhood. I have memories of the way I thought then and I see it in my youngest son. My father, grandfather, and sister also appear to suffer(ed), although they are undiagnosed and self-medicate. I don't doubt that many alcoholics (at least in my family) can find depression at the root of their addiction.
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  • medussamedussa Registered Users Posts: 12,993
    Depression is a mental illness. It runs in my family, and not the short term stuff, either. I've suffered since childhood. I have memories of the way I thought then and I see it in my youngest son. My father, grandfather, and sister also appear to suffer(ed), although they are undiagnosed and self-medicate. I don't doubt that many alcoholics (at least in my family) can find depression at the root of their addiction.

    It's horrible. My worst fears are for my children too (BPD runs so strongly on dh's side). :(
  • goldencurlygoldencurly Registered Users Posts: 2,385
    medussa wrote:
    It's horrible. My worst fears are for my children too (BPD runs so strongly on dh's side). :(

    My daughter's father is bipolar. The most important thing we can teach our children is how to segregate emotions from behavior. My x is a SOB. He has used his mental illness as an excuse for offensive behavior for years. My daughter knows very little about those times; thank heavens she doesn't remember! In family counseling, I learned to teach her it's ok to be upset, sad, angry, jubilent, excited, happy, etc. and that our emotions do tend to push us in a direction of action. But we get to choose how we act. Our behavior is a choice.

    Part of bipolar is no sense of ownership or responsibility for actions. It's the manic side - they are invincible so no one or nothing can touch them, so they can do whatever they want without alarming their conscious or fearing retribution. Knowing what the BPD tendencies are, we can raise our children to act responsibly and seek help when needed, instead of hiding their illness or hiding behind it as an excuse to behave deplorably. Did I mention I love my shrink? He helped me learn how to help my daughter from the get-go, even if she manages to escape the genetics.
    ________
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  • PhDCowPhDCow Registered Users Posts: 1,621 Curl Connoisseur
    I've been recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder by my psychiatrist and we're trying to find a combination of medicines to keep me under control. BPD has pretty much messed up my personal and professonal life. A few times in the past couple of months, I've had suicidal plans to just escape the consequences of my manic episode.

    I'm rapid-cycle Bipolar with predominantly mixed episodes, which means that I often have periods of depression and mania at the same time, sometimes several times a day.

    I could write a book, but I'll stop now.
    God doesn't give special kids to special parents. He takes ordinary, imperfect people, and gifts them with his greatest treasures. And therein, he creates special parents.

  • medussamedussa Registered Users Posts: 12,993
    Did I mention I love my shrink? He helped me learn how to help my daughter from the get-go, even if she manages to escape the genetics.

    Thank goodness for shrinks! I think everyone can benefit from an objective and well-trained outsider weighing in on one's life struggles (as well as encouraging us to think through our own solutions).
  • SuZenSuZen Registered Users Posts: 1,595
    Goldencurly, I think you've said something very important, which is for people to seek help for mental problems, and not ignore them.
  • medussamedussa Registered Users Posts: 12,993
    PhDCow wrote:
    I've been recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder by my psychiatrist and we're trying to find a combination of medicines to keep me under control. BPD has pretty much messed up my personal and professonal life. A few times in the past couple of months, I've had suicidal plans to just escape the consequences of my manic episode.

    I'm rapid-cycle Bipolar with predominantly mixed episodes, which means that I often have periods of depression and mania at the same time, sometimes several times a day.

    I could write a book, but I'll stop now.

    Finding the right med protocol is key.

    My BIL, is a totally different person now--and not in a good way. His affect is totally flat. Emotionless. It breaks my heart to see the kids running to him, trying to hug him and he can't respond. A few members of our extended family have gone as far as saying that they liked the old Paul, mood swings and all. :shock: I don't agree. Right now he's on Zyprexa, Klonopin and Wellbutrin. I have a feeling it's the Klonopin that's making him lethargic-like. I sent him a holiday card and reminded him that his MD works for him--if something doesn't feel right, he needs to speak up so that his MD can reevaluate the medication he's on.

    Anyway, PhD I am so sorry you are going through this. FIL is constantly trying to assess for suicidality and I worry about BIL a lot. :( I am glad you have been diagnosed and have a treatment plan. {{{Hugs}}}.
  • AlexaAlexa Registered Users Posts: 208
    My adopted older brother was diagnosed as a child with ADHD, he was always very disruptive as a child & always causing trouble but also very intelligent, he ended up going to a 'special school' when he was a teenager after several crime sprees, he was also (& still is) a pathalogical liar.
    I have no contact with him now but he does contact my mum occasionaly, usually when he is in trouble, I could write a book of the emotional blackmail he has used to try & get money out of her, quite often this has worked with my mum but then he always tells her afterwards that it was a lie.
    We know at one time he was institutionalised in Canada but I don't know what he was diagnosed with, he has been in prison in the USA for fraud at least once (& even conned a woman into marrying him while he was in there!).
    He was recently released from prison for stalking & threatening a woman in Canada & he recently has phoned saing he is in Paris, France, (won't be going there for my hols) & yes asking for money.

    I do feel sorry for him but he is way beyond anything we can do to help him & he never admits to having a problem it's always everyone elses fault.
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  • PhDCowPhDCow Registered Users Posts: 1,621 Curl Connoisseur
    I think the Depakote is kicking in (almost 2 weeks) because I am very, very low right now. Not as much mania, which is good, but I think I need my Lexapro increased to compensate.

    Not suicidal -- just very, very low.
    God doesn't give special kids to special parents. He takes ordinary, imperfect people, and gifts them with his greatest treasures. And therein, he creates special parents.

  • Pacific PoppyPacific Poppy Registered Users Posts: 253
    My father is crazy, simply put. He has had so many different diagnosises over the years, I can't even say what it is. Probably bipolar. Up until about 5 years ago he was the most beautifully creative, artistic craftsman. The only time I've seen anyone else with that, to that extent, has been on television. Given time, he could make anything, and very well. That is gone, though, maybe because of the medications, maybe the illness, maybe brain damage from self medicating. Its really sad. I haven't seen him for 3 years, but I've been told by his family that he is much worse, and only calls me when he is able to put a happy face on it.

    Sine his illness was very evident since I was 9 or so, I've always worried that I might carry the genes. I worry, too, about my children.
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  • curlyboricuacurlyboricua Registered Users Posts: 59
    According to the DSM-V book of Mental Disorders used to diagnose Mental Illness by psychiastrists the following are all considered forms of mental illness:

    Depression
    Anxiety
    Shyness
    ADHD

    There are also many other behaviors that are common amongst the population in this book.

    Having depression can be a sign of mental illness because it could mean you are bipolar or a manic depressive who experiences extreme highs and lows. It's not a mental illness when the depression is temporary and goes away due to an event such as a death, job loss, etc..

    Another interesting fact, many of the most creative people in history, artists, scientists and geniuses of the past have had bipolar disorder. Bipolar and manic depression are linked to creativity. There have been several studies done on this. I'll post one shortly.
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  • M2LRM2LR Registered Users Posts: 8,630 Curl Connoisseur
    Although no one (but myself) in my family has sought treatment or diagnosis, we have a few alcoholics, and maybe a personality disorder in my family. I know that there is depression, and I know that my mom has "something" but she's never looked into it to see what.

    Personally, I was diagnosed with "Dysthymia" (sp). Usually, I get severly depressed after some kind of event. Could be something as simple as having a bad day at work...and I can go from just being a little irritated to being suicidal and hating life within a matter of minutes/hours.
    :rambo:
  • LaVidaCurlyLaVidaCurly Registered Users Posts: 58
    Kurlee wrote:
    Depends on what defines mental illness.

    Having schizophrenia is having a mental illness to me. Depression is not in a way; Seems almost all people suffer from this one time in their life, at least. Not all in a very serious way, but still.

    I tend to agree with this and possibly that bipolar is considered a form of schizophrenia? Although, I don't know too much about either. My godson was just diagnosed with bipolar/schizophrenia. He is only four and on meds.

    But, regarding depression... I once had a roommate who took "meds" and loved how great it made her feel and how it was such a "high". And a lot of her friends also took meds for "depression/stress". So, I do question what exactly these drugs are. I don't think people need it as much as they think they do.

    I mean how do you know you really have a chemical imbalance? And to what degree? Drug companies are making a ton of money off of anti-depressants. If you make bad choices in your life you do suffer the consequences and either you learn to accept it or change things. Life is a learning process and it isn't always easy.

    But, if meds give you some sort of high and can help people get up in the morning. What the hell. But, then accept it for what it is. And it could end up causing more damage than good.
  • bouncebounce Registered Users Posts: 297
    I voted someone in my family, which would be my sister. She is actually what is called "dual-diagnosis."

    I'm undecided where issues like depression, ADHD, etc. fall in the world of mental illness. I believe that psychology in general is based on theories, opinions and experiments, not facts, and as a result, psychologists can and will have differing theories. I don't have much experience with depression so it's hard to say.

    In general, I think that as a society, we focus too hard on finding a label so then it can be treated. Some people are quickly labeled as having depression and then are treated accordingly without really looking at what is going on.

    Yes, I think depression is serious. But I also absolutely think that our society is too medicated.

    Issues like schizophrenia, personality disorders, bi-polar....basically everything you learn about in any gen ed psychology class are in my book what is considered serious mental illness.

    But this is just my theory.
  • geekygeeky Registered Users Posts: 4,995
    My grandmother is schizophrenic, and we have cousins that suffered from severe depression. One of my best friends has also dealt with mental illness ever since I have know her, last I heard her diagnosis is Borderline Personality Disorder.

    I do think that medications are overprescribed and I think that if you are taking medication you should also absolutely be in some kind of counseling. I also think that there are people who absolutely need medications. My friend is in a completely different ad better place now, and I know she would not be there without both her meds and her therapist. My granmother is c0ompletely dependent on her meds to keep her functional.
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  • SuZenSuZen Registered Users Posts: 1,595
    Kurlee wrote:
    Depends on what defines mental illness.

    Having schizophrenia is having a mental illness to me. Depression is not in a way; Seems almost all people suffer from this one time in their life, at least. Not all in a very serious way, but still.

    I tend to agree with this and possibly that bipolar is considered a form of schizophrenia? Although, I don't know too much about either. My godson was just diagnosed with bipolar/schizophrenia. He is only four and on meds.

    But, regarding depression... I once had a roommate who took "meds" and loved how great it made her feel and how it was such a "high". And a lot of her friends also took meds for "depression/stress". So, I do question what exactly these drugs are. I don't think people need it as much as they think they do.

    I mean how do you know you really have a chemical imbalance? And to what degree? Drug companies are making a ton of money off of anti-depressants. If you make bad choices in your life you do suffer the consequences and either you learn to accept it or change things. Life is a learning process and it isn't always easy.

    But, if meds give you some sort of high and can help people get up in the morning. What the hell. But, then accept it for what it is. And it could end up causing more damage than good.

    Bipolar disorder is not a form of schizophrenia, although sometimes the same medication is used to treat both. A four-year-old diagnosed with both? Seems very odd.

    These medications don't give you a high and people who take them would pretty much universally rather stop taking them.

    Chemical imbalance is real, not a theory. Depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are not the result of bad life choices or poor parenting -- they are actual diseases.

    Although I work for a drug company, I am very much in favor of using counseling or other additional therapy as well as medication. If people can find a way to deal with their illness without medication, that's the best outcome possible. But there are people who need medication to function relatively normally.

    I recently read the book 72-Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell, which gives a very graphic account of bipolar disorder. Worth reading.
  • KrazyblondegurlKrazyblondegurl Registered Users Posts: 1,008
    SuZen wrote: "Bipolar disorder is not a form of schizophrenia, although sometimes the same medication is used to treat both. A four-year-old diagnosed with both? Seems very odd.
    These medications don't give you a high and people who take them would pretty much universally rather stop taking them.
    Chemical imbalance is real, not a theory. Depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are not the result of bad life choices or poor parenting -- they are actual diseases.
    Although I work for a drug company, I am very much in favor of using counseling or other additional therapy as well as medication. If people can find a way to deal with their illness without medication, that's the best outcome possible. But there are people who need medication to function relatively normally."


    I 100% agree with SuZen. Schizophrenia and bipolar are two very distinct diseases....not the same, although can be treated with the same drugs. And it is very unusual to dx a four yo with schizophrenia or bipolar. There is DSM IV (diagnostic) criteria for all these diseases...including depression. All are caused by chemical imbalances. I agree with others that state we seek to label and medicate...true. But after working with the mentally ill it is VERY necessary to medicate most of them, espcecially those with bipolar, schizophrenia, and severe depression.
  • AseretAseret Registered Users Posts: 9
    I answered no, but then I remembered a friend of mine who has bi-polar disorder. It effects her life in many different ways: relationships,work issues and money problems mostly.
    Sad because she has so much going for her otherwise - she's 40 and still hasn't got a hold of this. She keeps thinking if she can get the right medication or see the right therapist then she will finally be "normal".
    I don't know if that day will come - she's been looking a long time :cry:
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  • KurleeKurlee Registered Users Posts: 1,354
    I have suffered from anxiety on and off for years. The last year of my marriage, I went to a psychiatrist at least once a week. My exhusband is bipolar and refused treatment and drove me batty to the point I needed help. Therapy was wonderful. It taught me to see things from an objective point of view. I learned to look my exhusband in the face and tell him he was mentally ill AND that was no reason or excuse for verbally and mentally abusing me.

    The thing about mental illness is we have to deal with the stigma. One poster said that depression isn't mental illness. Everyone deals with sadness, but that is not depression. Depression is an overwhelming sense of hopelessness that affects your quality of life over a period of time, normally more than a couple of weeks. Anything shorter than that is viewed as "a rough time" and not technically mental illness. But actual depression is. And that's ok. We need to stop thinking of mental illness as a weakness of character. That's not what it is. It's an illness just like my asthma. It has to be treated and controlled for my quality of life to be what it should be.

    I have taken prescription meds for my anxiety. I took Zoloft every day for 1 1/2 years when I was married and in therapy and living in hell. Therapy and medication helped me to see my world clearly and make rational decisions on what was best for me and my daughter.

    A year ago, I went back on a shortterm medication called BuSpar when I was having a really rough time that was going to last awhile. Even though the situation lasted for months, I only needed meds for about 3 weeks.

    Accepting who and what I am without shame or the negative conitation of being labeled mentally ill has helped my self-esteem (which took one nasty beating in a long abusive marriage) and my outlook for my mental stability for the future. I may have to seek treatment again. And I hope I can do that without giving a hoot what anyone thinks of me or my anxiety, yes, my mental illness.

    I mentioned self-esteem. Mental illness is not the result of low self-esteem. Don't confuse the two. Self-esteem is how I see myself. Mental illness is when my body reacts chemically to a bad situation or a traumatizing event and begans a chemical cycle I cannot willfully break without treatment and medical intervention.

    :gets off soapbox:

    That was me. I didn't mean to make it sound like depression is nothing and I definitely didn't mean that depression is just a little rough time.
    I have been through it too. I was on anti depressive pills for two years and went to a counselor for a year. Struggled with wanting to "jump off the train" for a long time. I know how horrible it hurts in your soul and what a black hole it is. A hole that doesn't seem to have any light in it at all.
    (It came as a result of a very rough childhood.)

    My thoughts about depression not being a mental illness comes from people the same stuff that you talk about. It's like mental illness is labeling people and that depression is a pretty common thing after all. (Meaning not as “heavy” as suffering from a psychotic illness.) We all feel ashamed over it (well, most do) and feel like we are weak. So I am kinda trying to say the same thing as you but didn't know how to express it better. Sorry.
  • SuZenSuZen Registered Users Posts: 1,595
    Oh, I agree that all of us experience anxiety and depression to some degree. When it's experienced to a degree that is crippling and prevents normal living, that's another story.
  • KurleeKurlee Registered Users Posts: 1,354
    About medication:
    I didn't get high at all from the meds. I think a lot of people doesn't differ between anti depressants and anti anxious meds. BIG difference.

    I only ate the anti depressants. The Prozac stuff. (People tend to know what Prozac is). Mine wasn't Prozac though. It had another name, but did the same stuff. It didn't change who I was, it actually didn't make me that much happier either. It helps with "giving you a kick in the but and get going". It's like it takes away the tip of the ice berg of what you are feeling and that can help quite a bit. At least it did for me.
    I HATE eating medication by the way. And hope I will never need to eat these again. It was almost 10 years ago now.
  • wild~hairwild~hair Registered Users Posts: 9,890 Curl Neophyte
    I think there is confusion around depression because it's like the common cold of mental illness.

    The fact is, most people will experience situational depression in their lifetimes, typically after experiencing a loss. Since this is most people's direct experience with depression, they think that's what it's like for those who have been diagnosed with another form of depression: dysthymia, severe depression, or depression as a symptom of bi-polar disorder. When in fact, those types of depression are quite different in many ways, not the least of which is that they are chronic.

    Thanks for all your responses. It's been really interesting to read everybody's experiences. While I don't exactly relish hearing about all the suffering that goes on, it helps to know that there are others with similar stories.

    In my family, there is depression and bi-polar disorder, some diagnosed, some not. On my dad's side, alcoholism that I'm certain is masking depression runs rampant. On my mother's, my grandmother drank to self-medicate for bi-polar disorder. She was also treated with medication and shock therapy. My great-grandmother died in an institution "from a broken heart" my mother was told, after giving birth. [Sounds like post-partum depression to me.]

    I was diagnosed a few years ago with dysthymia. In looking back at my life, I see now that I had symptoms of this as early as first grade. When does a disease like this become clinical, that is to say "factual," "real," ""serious," or "diagnosable"? I don't know. But I felt anxious and sad from a pretty young age over things that wouldn't have bothered most kids.

    I do think one needs to be careful with medication, but I don't think one can be overly vigilant in treating mental illness. Just like most diseases, the earlier and more aggressively fought, the better.

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