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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Creative people are not predisposed to mental illness.

In Entertainment, Health, National News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on December 12, 2014 at 2:12 pm

When it happened, I did not want to be one of the millions of journalists writing about the tragic death of comedian Robin Williams. I wanted no part of the relentless armchair quarterbacking of commentators who so easily claimed to have the man, “figured out.” No one knew what was in his head or heart and pretending to in order to secure 15 seconds of publicity on the morning talk shows is disrespectful on countless levels.

As a kid, “Mork & Mindy” was a favorite television show of mine. Naturally, I was too young to understand that Williams’ extra-terrestrial comic genius may have originated from a man with deep, emotional fragility in a constant struggle with personal demons. However, Williams’ death led to interesting dialogue about whether brilliantly creative people have a higher tendency toward mental illness.

Psychologists have long debated the relationship between the creative mind and various mental illnesses, particularly bipolar disorder.  Personally, I reject the psychobabble that suggests creative people innately suffer from a myriad of mental and emotional disorders.

I’m not a psychiatrist or a physician but I am one of those creative people, albeit that I walk the line to the other side of the brain as well. I can rebuild an engine, write this article, and produce a television segment, all in the same day. But am I, by nature, mentally ill?

Benjamin Franklin was one of the most creative and inventive people in American history. He was a statesman, a writer and an inventor, and there is no evidence to suggest he had any sort of mental illness.

But in today’s era of mass publicity, there are other pressures that can affect the creative mind’s health besides that to produce new work. Anyone who becomes successful or is thrust into the public eye at any level has an entirely different set of stresses to deal with.

From my own, small experience, I can tell you first-hand that, as a public figure, you are expected to be “on” all the time. Because of your public work, people believe they know “you,” and anticipate you to behave a certain way to meet their expectation.

When you don’t, they are disappointed and react negatively. The pressure of not being able to meet those expectations can take a toll on someone who already suffers from self-doubt, depression and other areas where a negative personal image is already prevalent.

Most creative people are in the business they love in order to do a good job at work then go about their lives as normally as possible. Often, however, the public won’t allow it.

Williams’ death serves as a reminder that every creative person is just that, an individual, whether working from their garage or signing million-dollar movie deals. Every day they struggle with the same concerns as you and I, it’s just that the scope of view might be a bit larger or different.

Has anyone considered the possibility that people who already have mental illnesses choose to go into a more creative line of work because it fits their “disability?” It’s no secret that actors and writers tend to be introverted, keep to themselves and often reject the idea of the 9 to 5 job and even general social conformity. Since mental illness isn’t something a person just contracts, like the flu; it’s logical to conclude that it’s got to be in the genetics somewhere waiting for a trigger. Depression and other illnesses can also be affected by the lifestyle of the individual through alcohol and drug use, exacerbating the problem.

Therefore, it is entirely likely that those with mental issues actually choose the more fluid existence of the creative lifestyle early on.  The common absence of structure and responsibility probably plays well into their ever fluctuating mental state.

In other words, it’s a chicken or the egg problem. Are creative people mentally ill (as a generalization), or do the mentally ill choose the more creative path? A great talent was lost in Robin Williams and he was by no means the first. Sadly, regardless of how it comes about, it is unlikely he will be the last.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and contributor to WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton program

 

 

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For some, depression darkens the holiday season

In Children and Family, Health, Holiday, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on November 24, 2014 at 1:54 pm

DIH LOGOIt’s never great to lead off with a cliché, but there may really be a silver lining behind every dark cloud. The hard part is that it’s up to the individual to recognize and interpret it. During the holiday season, however, for some the darkness may become overwhelming and everyone else should be sensitive to those around them suffering from seasonal depression.

As the Thanksgiving Day holiday heralds in the Christmas season, it’s important to try to remember that not everyone is happy and cheerful during this time. Many people suffer from various types of clinical depression, exacerbated by the holidays.

Seasonal Affect Disorder, or SAD, is a seasonal pattern associated with a recurring depressive disorder. It’s a fact that people experience mood changes along with the seasons but some may actually experience an even more sever bout during the stressful holiday season.

According to Healthline.com, “Depression may occur at any time of the year, but the stress and anxiety of the holiday season—especially during the months of November and December (and, to a lesser extent, just before Valentine’s Day)—may cause even those who are usually content to experience loneliness and a lack of fulfillment.”

baileygeorgeNot surprisingly, depression during this time can result from loneliness. Healthline.com reports that a 1999 Canadian study of patients treated by emergency psychiatric services during the Christmas season, states the most common stressors were feelings of loneliness and “being without a family.”

Experts also suggest that part of the problem is a level of media bombardment, mostly advertising, that depicts cheerful holiday festivities, smiling families, and so on. The joyful, light-heartedness of the season might to a depressed person seem much more a requirement and painful nuisance than a genuine, heart-felt emotion.

The elderly often suffer from depression caused by any number of contributors including, serious medical problems, poor diet, loss of a spouse, chronic pain and more. Depression may worsen in the elderly, not expressly because of the holiday, but that it brings memories of happier, more fulfilling times, and it might be hard to spot.

Helpguide.org suggests that elderly patients suffering from depression might display rapid mental decline but memory of time and date, as well as awareness of the environment, remain. They may also exhibit more outward concern than usual about slipping memory and their motor skills may be normal but noticeably slower.

Regardless of age, depression is a painful illness to endure at a time of year when the sufferer is surrounded by the usual excitement of the season.  There are many ways to help combat depression.

Social isolation can be a major contributor to depression, particularly during the holidays.  Start by getting involved and being among friends and family wherever possible. Of course, sometimes, family can be the cause of stress. In those instances, it might be better to spend time with close friends or attend some kind of social activity, go to bingo at the local community center, or anything else to avoid being alone. But remember to feel free to leave an event if you feel uncomfortable. Adding stress to depression would be seriously detrimental to the purpose of the interaction.

Other ways to ward off “holiday blues” include, beginning a new tradition, volunteering at local charity centers, or get outside and take a walk or go on a bike ride.  Self-care is an important step to fighting depression. Even with decreased appetite, it’s important to remember to try to eat well, exercise and maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Seek medical treatment as well. General practice doctors can help determine what sort of specialized treatment may be beneficial. Depression is an illness with treatments available to help people live active, involved lives but nothing can happen without taking that first step. Proper treatment may help people have a happier, more meaningful holiday season.

On a final note, although it is a myth that more suicides occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas, those suffering severe depression might still be dealing with suicidal thoughts. Contact one of the local crisis lines, 24/7: Greene County Crisis Services: (513) 376-8702 or Dayton Suicide Prevention Center, Inc.: (937) 297-4777.


Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at gerydeer.com

 

 

Cause and effect of drug advertisements

In Business, Education, Health, National News, Opinion, television, Uncategorized on June 26, 2014 at 10:37 am

DIH LOGOAccording to a 2008 study by the peer-reviewed medical journal, PLOS Medicine, pharmaceutical companies spend nearly twice as much on marketing than research. In a review of the study, the consumer advocacy website, Consumerist.com, indicates, “Drug companies pour $57.5 billion into marketing, dwarfing the comparably paltry $31.5 billion devoted to research.”

Pharmaceutical manufacturers have rigid guidelines for promoting their products, but the question lingers: should non-over-the-counter drugs be promoted to the general public at all? The short answer is, probably not. The longer answer is more complex. Since, as a rule, Deer In Headlines deals with “fact,” not “truth,” here are some facts about drug advertising. Incidentally, if it is truth you’re interested in, check out a philosophy column (thanks Dr. Jones).

The official website of the United States Food and Drug Administration states, “Prescription drug advertisements can provide useful information for consumers to work with their health care providers to make wise decisions about treatment.” Leading the pack of heavily-marketed drugs are prescription sleep aids, blood thinners, anti-depressants and erectile dysfunction remedies. Most of the television ads for these medications appear during the day, carefully targeting certain markets.

What the general public fails to realize, however, is that these ads are intended to plant an idea in the head of the consumer who, in all their medical wisdom, will take the information to a doctor and insist on a prescription. Mission accomplished; more drugs are sold and the company’s stock goes up a quarter of a point, not to mention the fact there is one more person who simply can’t live without the latest pill. Perhaps a better understanding of how these ads are structured might help.

pillsThe FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion classifies medication advertisements into three categories: Product Claims, Reminders, and Help-Seeking ads.  The product claim ad names the drug, the treated condition and lists the benefits and risks. A reminder ad shows the name of the drug, but not its use. Finally, the help-seeking advertisement is directed at people with a particular condition for which they are trying to find a remedy. There is, however, no guideline for how much money a drug company can spend on advertising and some consumer advocates argue that it’s wrong for them to be able to spend more on marketing than research.

The fact is that it’s really hard to say exactly how much any one drug company spends on research vs. marketing because reported advertising expenditures are mixed in with the accounting category which also includes other figures, such as executive salaries. Research money is usually accounted for in a separate line item (R&D), even though it technically could be in the same classification with general operation costs.

Another fact is that everyone is a medical expert – yes that’s sarcasm. From the neighbor with every ailment more painful than the last or the relative who insists his doctor is an idiot but goes back every time his prescription runs out, self-diagnosis and treatment are a real epidemic in America.

There is also the concern that these advertisements actually plant the idea of a particular illness in the mind of the viewer who then heads to the doctor with a new problem, and a new prescription demand. Studies show that about 40-percent of all doctor visits are with the intention of getting a prescription. Since people keep going back, it’s safe to assume there are plenty of doctors obliging, and that needs to change as well.

Prescription medication should be marketed to the experts who will be prescribing it to the patient. Drug companies already spend billions on advertising and on-site sales representatives who offer samples and various other motivators to get the doctors to push their products for various ailments. The patient has no business self-prescribing and doctors need to be more responsible.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. Side effects of reading Deer In Headlines include a more open mind, alternative points of view and a better understanding of the world around you. No prescription necessary.