More on the connection between chemical imbalance and Addiction

Sweet Sixteen, 1973-74. Paint on canvas,
Collection of Lolli Thurn

Outsider Art = mentally Ill?

Week One A Teacher’s Introduction to Mood Disorders.

Why does that kid act like that?????  


MOOD DISORDERS Mood disorders are persistent changes in mood caused by biochemical imbalances in the brain. Major depressive disorder  and bipolar disorder are two types of mood disorders. Major depressive disorder is depressed mood accompanied by symptoms such as: loss of interest or pleasure in life; irritability; sadness; difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much; decreased or increased appetite; lack of concentration; sense of worthlessness; guilt; and in some cases, thoughts of suicide. Bipolar disorder is a cycle of depressed mood, “normal” mood and mania. Mania is an elevated, exaggerated mood accompanied by symptoms such as: inflated self-esteem or confidence; a decreased need for sleep; increased energy; increased sexual drive; poor judgment; increased spending; agitation; non-stop talk; and increased involvement in pleasurable and possibly  dangerous activities.

Psychosis is the active state of experiencing hallucinations or delusions and can be organic (mental illness) or drug induced. Schizophrenia is a disturbance involving delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and/or disorganized or catatonic behaviour. Delusions are false beliefs or misinterpretations of situations and experiences. Hallucinations can  be auditory, visual, olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste) or tactile (touch), but auditory hallucinations are most common. Schizophrenia is also associated witha deterioration of a person’s ability to function at work, school and/or socially.

ANXIETY   DISORDERS Anxiety disorders are associated with feelings of anxiousness, combined with physiological symptoms that interfere with everyday activities. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder are types of  anxiety disorders.Obsessive-compulsive disorder is marked by repeated obsessions and/or compulsions that are so severe they interfere with everyday activities. Obsessions are disturbing, intrusive thoughts, ideas, or images that cause marked anxiety or distress. Compulsions are repeated behaviours or mental acts intended to reduce anxiety. Post-traumatic stress disorder is the re-experiencing of a very traumatic event, accompanied by feelings of extreme anxiety, increased excitability and the desire to avoid stimuli associated with the trauma. The trauma could  be related to such incidents as military combat, sexual assault, physical attack, robbery, car accident or natural disaster.  Phobias are significant and persistent fears of objects or situations. Exposure to the object or situation causes extreme anxiety and interferes with everyday activities or social life. Specific phobias have to do with objects or situations — for example, germs or heights. Social phobias have to do with social situations or performance situations where embarrassment may occur — for example, public speaking or dating.

PERSONALITY   DISORDERS A personality disorder is a pattern of inner experience and behaviour that is significantly different from the individual’s  culture; is pervasive and inflexible; is stable over time; and leads to distress or impairment. Personality disorders usually  begin in adolescence or early adulthood. Dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as “multiple personality disorder,” is the presence of two or more distinct identities that alternately control a person’s behaviour. It reflects a failure to make connections between identity, memory and consciousness. Known by the general public as “split personality,” there is now a controversy as to whether or not it is a real diagnosis.

EATING DISORDERS  Eating disorders are a range of conditions involving an obsession with food, weight and appearance that negatively  affect a person’s health, relationships and daily life. Stressful life situations, poor coping skills, socio-cultural factors regarding weight and appearance, genetics, trauma, and family dynamics are thought to play a role in the development  of eating disorders. Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by an intense and irrational fear of body fat and weight gain, the strong determination to become thinner and thinner, the refusal to maintain a normal weight (for height and age) and a  distorted body image. Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by self-defeating cycles of binge eating and purging. Bingeing is the consumption of large amounts of food in a rapid, automatic and helpless fashion and leads to physical discomfort and anxiety  about weight gain. Purging follows bingeing and can involve induced vomiting, restrictive dieting, excessive exercising or use of laxatives and diuretics.
Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention Web site: EDAP

FACTORS THAT MAY CONTRIBUTE  TO THE DEVELOPMENT O f   MENTAL ILLNESS The following are factors that may contribute to the development of mental illness: · chemical imbalance · substance use · traumatic life events · heredity · other illnesses. Factors that may contribute to the development of mental illness: Discussion guide Although there is currently no agreement about the exact causes of mental illness, the following factors are recognized as playing a role in the development of various mental illnesses: Chemical imbalance There is growing evidence that mental illness may be partially caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Many people respond well to medications that address such an imbalance and many of the symptoms of their illness are reduced or eliminated. There is no clear causal relationship between substance use and the development of mental illness. People who have mental illness may use alcohol and other drugs to relieve some symptoms of their illness. However, substance use may actually worsen symptoms and delay proper diagnosis and treatment. There are also cases in which substance use has induced psychotic behaviour, both because of the chemical effect of the drug and because the drug unmasks a pre-existing  mental illness. Traumatic life events Similar to substance use, traumatic life events can, in some instances, make people more vulnerable to developing mental illness. Instead of recovering from a situational depression (e.g., grief following the death of a loved one), some people may go on to develop a more profound, clinical depression. Heredity We are learning more about the role heredity plays in the development of mental illness. Researchers have found that with certain diagnoses, the likelihood of a child developing a mental illness is greater if one or both parents have a mental illness. Examples of diseases thought to have a genetic component include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.

FAMOUS PEOPLE WITH MENTALILLNESS It is important to know that having a mental illness does not mean that you can not live a productive life.   It is exactly like diabetes… the person needs to adjust the chemicals and live a very cognitive and considered lifestyle.    (Diagnosis or believed diagnosis of mood disorder, unless otherwise indicated)ACTORS/ENTERTAINERS/DIRECTORSMarlon Brando Drew Carey Jim Carrey Dick Clark John Cleese Rodney DangerfieldRichard Dreyfuss Patty Duke Frances Ford Coppola Audrey Hepburn Anthony HopkinsAshley Judd Margot Kidder Vivien LeighJoan Rivers Roseanne Winona Ryder Charles Schultz Rod Steiger Damon Wayans Robin Williams 129 ATHLETES Lionel Aldridge (schizophrenia) Oksana Baiul Dwight Gooden Peter Harnisch Greg LouganisElizabeth Manley Jimmy Piersall Monica Seles Darryl Strawberry Bert Yancey   AUTHORS/JOURNALISTS Hans Christian Andersen James Barrie William Blake Agatha Christie Michael CrichtonCharles Dickens Emily Dickinson William Faulkner F. Scott Fitzgerald John Kenneth Galbraith Ernest Hemingway John KeatsLarry King Eugene O’Neill Sylvia Plath Edgar Allen Poe Mary Shelley Neil Simon William Styron Leo Tolstoy Mark Twain Mike Wallace Walt Whitman Tennessee WilliamsVirginia Woolf   POLITICAL FIGURES/WORLD LEADERS Alexander the Great Napoleon Bonaparte Barbara BushWinston Churchill Diana, Princess of WalesTipper Gore Thomas Jefferson Ralph NaderFlorence Nightingale George Patton George Stephanopolous   COMPOSERS/MUSICIANS/SINGERSIrving Berlin Ludwig van Beethoven Karen Carpenter (anorexia) Ray Charles Frederic Chopin Eric Clapton Kurt Cobain Leonard Cohen Natalie Cole Sheryl Crow John Denver Stephen Foster Peter Gabriel Janet Jackson Billy Joel Elton John Sarah McLachlan Charles Mingus Alanis Morissette 132 Marie Osmond Charles Parker Cole Porter Bonnie Raitt Axl RoseRobert Schumann Paul Simon James TaylorPeter Tchaikovshy     ARTISTS Paul GauginVincent van Gogh Michelangelo Vaslov Nijinski (schizophrenia) Georgia O’KeefeJackson Pollock   BUSINESS LEADERSHoward Hughes
Think Different


Clay’s Story

More Genius or Madness??


Authentic Vice:

My experience with addiction.
Anonymous May 16, 2013 2:10 PM

Hello all,

I am a guest of Dr. Bridges come to share my experience with addiction and mental illness.

I grew up in what would be considered by most to be a typical american family. We had a stay at home mother, corporate executive father and 2 kids in our nuclear family. My sister and I wanted for very little, except perhaps a present father figure in our lives. My father was an intelligent man with a high powered job, but his primary interests were smoking, drinking, and pursuing his personal interests.

I swore to myself that I would never pick up a drink or a drug. I grew to despise my self-absorbed father and was completely committed to never becoming like him. This lasted till the end of my high school career. I spent my entire childhood and adolescent feeling like an outsider looking in. Near the end of high school I found acceptance among a group of other social outcasts. I started drinking with them just before my eighteenth birthday.

For the first time in my life I did not feel locked up within the prison of my mind. My thick shell of self-conscious analysis melted away and nothing seemed important. People and situations no longer had the same impact on me. The ever-present feelings of anxiety and disconnectedness disappeared. I made a total ass out of myself, and angered a number of my peers with my outrageous behavior. The consequences didn’t matter. I loved the feeling of absence and I prepared to give myself to oblivion.

Using drugs and alcohol offered me a release. They offered me relief for the first time I could remember in my life. I can’t tell you whether I am predisposed genetically to addictive behavior. I don’t know whether a tumultuous home life and lack of a male role model was causal. People who know little of addiction may assert that my abuse of chemicals was a failing of morality or a deficiency of character. I can tell you, based on the hundreds of people from all walks of life that I’ve met struggling with addiction, that the answer is not as simple as a single sentence.

The relationship between mental illness and addiction is incredibly complex. Strong correlations have been established between the two, and so dual-diagnosis treatment of addiction and mental illness has become more and more common.

Throughout my tenure as a drunk and a junkie I have been labeled with every diagnosis you could possibly imagine. It is incredibly difficult to diagnose an addict who is active in their addiction because many of the symptoms of drug addiction and mental illness coalesce.

Now that I’ve been sober for a period of time, my mental illness symptoms have subsided with the exception of the ones that played a huge part in the development of my addiction. I still suffer from anxiety at times, particularly social. I learned about the power of my cognitions to create these feelings, and as time passes and I practice the tools I’ve been given these symptoms decrease. I got the support I needed from other addicts like myself as well as a community of professionals who truly understood that addiction behaves very much like a disease. As future educators I would encourage you to learn about the disease model of addiction, and if you are somewhat ambitious, the neurobiological research on the subject is truly fascinating.

I can see how many people here have been touched by addiction and mental illness in their own lives. This truly is a problem that affects individuals in all walks of life regardless of status or education. As you become teachers you will invariably encounter those who are already struggling or who are at higher risk than others due to factors such as social rejection, troubled home lives and myriad other factors. Last I read most general practitioners in family medical practices only spent 2-4 weeks learning about addiction in their training. I believe that it is imperative for you as teachers to understand how addiction works, how to respond to individuals struggling with it, and how to talk to families about these issues.
Thank you for your time.

A. N. Addict

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