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October 6th, 2010
09:33 AM ET

Stigma of mental illness remains

Despite the efforts of people in the public eye going public about their own condition and despite all of the public service campaigns the stigma attached to mental illness remains. And that's a shame, because there should be no shame in seeking treatment, no matter how severe.

The disappointing news was reported in September by the American Journal of Psychiatry, in an article titled, in part, “A Disease Like Any Other?”

Within the study by researchers at Indiana University and Columbia University were elements of good news, in significant increases in public acceptance of so-called “neurobiological” explanations – meaning genetics or brain chemistry as the cause – for mental illness and acceptance of seeking help from mental health professionals.

But despite efforts to make mental illness “like any other” disease, the researchers review of ten years of public campaigning found little progress in ending the stigma. “Prejudice and discrimination in the U.S. aren't moving," said Indiana University sociologist Bernice Pescosolido, a leading researcher in this area. "In fact, in some cases, it may be increasing. It's time to stand back and rethink our approach."

Jonathan Rottenberg, who directs the Mood and Emotion Laboratory at the University of South Florida sees the “like any other” campaign” as well-intentioned. “Patient advocacy groups have bought into the disease model, often out of the belief that seeing depression as a disease like any other will reduce the stigma associated with depression. This motivation is pure. Historically people who have suffered from depression have tended to suffer in silence and/or not sought treatment because of the shame associated with admitting depression,” wrote Rottenberg, an Associate Professor of Psychology.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 percent of American adults met the criteria for depression, including 3.4 percent with major depression, based on data covering more than 235,000 people, gathered between 2006-2008. The manufacture and sale of anti-depressants, taken by an estimated 27 million people, is a multi-billion dollar business, according to Rottenberg.

Whether the answer is talk therapy or pharmacology or a combination of both, or some alternative treatment, getting care is critical for those suffering from serious depression. The importance of ending the stigma cannot be underestimated. “It can produce discrimination in employment, housing, medical care and social relationships, and negatively impact the quality of life for these individuals, their families and friends,” Science Daily stated.

"Often mental health advocates end up singing to the choir," Pescosolido said. "We need to involve groups in each community to talk about these issues which affect nearly every family in America in some way. This is in everyone's interest."

Everyone would include Ron Artest, a forward for the National Basketball Association champion Los Angeles, a man not known as a shrinking violet by any stretch of the imagination.

Artest recently spoke at a middle school, telling the students that he began having mental health problems while still a young boy. Artest said he’s considering selling his championship ring to raise funds to support mental health counseling in schools, a notable gesture from a player who publicly thanked his psychologist for helping him this past season. "When you think about mental health, you don't have to be afraid," Artest told the students, urging them to take their problems to school counselors. "That doesn't mean you're crazy, it just means you have some issues in your life," he said. "This is a way to be able to talk to somebody about your problems."

Artest may have done as much as anyone else to remove the stigma.


soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Rhonda

    I read the Stigma of Mental Illness Remains, and this is what I live with everyday with for my daughter, it is an ongoing challange to get help, I'm going to print this article and post it at all the offices that I have found that discriminates. Thanks for the help.

    October 6, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • anon

      It is unfortunate, but true. There is a compelling reason to perpetuate the stigma associated with mental illness; the vanguard in government, medical, legal and other professions find it a very effective mechanism to marginalize those who dare to veer against irregularities in any of these fields– they simply get labled as 'crazy' and then no one would ever believe anything they have to say–ever.

      October 7, 2010 at 04:02 | Report abuse |
    • Katie85

      Dear Rhonda: Forgive me if I did not get your name spelled correctly. I cease to be amazed year after year how we(US Government-General Public-for a start) continue to treat mental health the same as the previous year and the year before that and on and on. One thing that I find totally UNBELIEVABLE is the fact that when I see my psychiatrist my ins company only pays $75.00/visit thats it – period. Same education requirements as are required to become and MD be a neurologist, emergency room doctor, internist or any other specialty. EXCEPT that the psychiatrist has one of the longest residency program requirements. Does that make any sense? No- of course not but yet it is allowed because over all -sadly many many people including many people in government have never had someone that they loved that required mental health treatment on a day in and day out necesssity. I have a brother who is 50 some years old but often portrays symptoms of a child and in public is refused to go into certain public places-WHY? because they say-he looks different!!! He is no different then many of the rest of us except he has to take some meds everey day, has some early symptoms of side effects caused by long term medication requirements which cannot be better managed, but might be if only we put more money towards mental health and a lot less towards :What our neighbors are doing? Are they smoking? They better NOT get any where near MY line of the yard. I am not saying smoking is "good for anyone". My poinit is, less government running our lives and more help for the many people that need it. We send millions of dollars to other nations and look what happened in New Orleans? Our own USA!!!! Shame for Shame!!
      Well I best get off of my soap box or I may never quit. Good luck and take care of yourself.

      Katie85

      October 7, 2010 at 12:19 | Report abuse |
    • Annie C

      As I read this article, for one brief moment, I hesitate as to whether I want to include my email address.

      I recently filled out a plethora of personal information that was required to take upon a job as a surgical technician that required a list of all of the five medications that I take for Bipolar Disorder. I was also required to required to release information which included every personal inquiry regarding my financial, health, credit history; places of residency, criminal history and work history. I hesitated to fill this form out but since I really needed employment I complied.

      I was released of this 'per diem' position after 90 days prior to speaking, (confidentially), with my supervisor that I was undergoing a medication change for a "self-proclaimed" 'psychiatric condition'. To cover my reputation and as a responsibility as a health care worker I said, "Please let me know if any of your nurses or other staff has any concerns with me regarding my work performance". After that I had one incidence where I did not make it to work. That day I walked into my supervisor's office to try and explain my reason for not showing up for work, the operating R.N., assistant to my supervisor, made a gesture as to (chop your head off) you're fired. I was no longer 'needed to fill the overload of full-time surgical techs.

      Long story short, in these days of rare employment opportunities not only are there requirements for employers to meet to hire ANY staff, where do I begin?

      Sure there are dozens of ads for psychiatric medications that permeate the media but the last testimonial of a celebrity who lived with a 'mental illness', chronic depression, was Mike Mike Wallace from 60 minutes. Does Dr. Oz address the 'undereducated public' about the psychiatric condition of Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses? The verbiage may have changed but, regardless of the label, (I'm a breast cancer survivor, ((which I also am AND a hero)), I remain 'mentally ill'. The national and local mental health organizations, (NAMI, MHA and other mental health educational, awareness and advocacy groups), has gone from describing 'us' as consumers, clients, and other euphemistic words to try and make 'us' feel better, educate the public and find a 'cure' for. Does the public have any knowledge of the 'silver ribbon' that represents the millions of dollars that have not been displayed by this year's 'pink ribbon' that the National Football league can afford to pay homage to for "Breast Cancer Awareness Month"?

      Finally my therapist no longer takes Medicare after 15 years of service, (she treats me for free). My psychiatrist of two years hasn't taken ANY insurance for 16 years and has had more dedication and knowledge of her craft than any other Doctor I have been treated by in the last 25 years. Does your private insurance have any waivers or extra 'fee's for psychiatric care?

      Stigma? You tell me!

      October 12, 2010 at 16:07 | Report abuse |
  2. Wallace

    "...It can produce discrimination in employment, housing, medical care and social relationships, and negatively impact the quality of life for these individuals, their families and friends”. Huh? How do they qualify these?

    Unless your doctor violates HIPAA no-one has to know you're in couseling except you. I'm I the only one who thinks the spin on this story reinforces the stigma stereotype instead of breaking it?

    October 6, 2010 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sy2502

      If you have diabetes you can go to your employee and say it and it won't affect your career. If you have chronic back problems, you can tell your employer and they'll probably help you with ergonomics to make sure your workstation setup doesn't aggravate your condition. But try telling your employer you've been diagnosed with a mental illness, and see what it does to your career! No, sorry, you are wrong, there's no spin in the article.

      October 6, 2010 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
    • ashley

      On top of that, for those with government clearances, mental health can become a red flag.

      October 6, 2010 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
    • Mom Debbie

      Wallace said, "Unless your doctor violates HIPAA no-one has to know.."

      I respectfully disagree, Wallace.
      Yesterday I attended a guardianship hearing for my 22 y/o daughter in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was diagnosed with a serious mental condition at a very young. She was only ten and has spent a large portion of her life in and out of hospitals. She has three known legal / diagnosed disabilities–this is real, and not just an attempt to medicate and label a child. A letter from a doctor was required by the court which outlined very personal details about her. When the hearing started, it was noted the judge did NOT have a copy of the doctor's letter. However, when I arrived home that evening, I discovered it had been POSTED ON THE INTERNET BY THE CIRCUIT CLERK for the entire world to read... so, the world is not perfect...even the courts violate HIPPA.
      Yes, it was removed...but I wonder how many other helpless and disabled people have unknowingly had their personal lives put on display?? ~~Mom Deb

      October 6, 2010 at 19:32 | Report abuse |
    • Wallace

      You have opened my eyes Mom Debbie, really. I didn't realize things got leaked so easily...that's pretty rotten

      October 6, 2010 at 21:51 | Report abuse |
    • Mom Debbie

      Wallace had previously stated, " Unless your doctor violates HIPAA no-one has to know..." and " I didn't realize things got leaked so easily...."

      The word "leaked" implies ( in my opinion) either a secret , manipulative act else or an accidental break in privacy.

      I want to be clear. This was neither secret nor an accident. According to phone calls made to the court, apparently
      The STATE OF ARKANSAS POSTS LETTERS FROM DOCTORS ON THE INTERNET AS A STANDARD PROCEDURE.

      These letters, although unquestionably necessary, are demoralizing to the individual and should be viewed only by parties involved in the case. To make them available for public inspection is wrong.

      ~~Mom Debbie

      October 7, 2010 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    Yeah, there's still a stigma connected to being mentally ill.

    October 6, 2010 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jen

    Every time one of these studies come out, mental health providers bemoan the ongoing stigma. Yet they continue to contribute to it themselves. In June, CNN ran a story about psychiatrists who were arguing that Darth Vader had borderline personality disorder. They wanted to use this assertion to educate people more about the disorder. Really? I just can't believe that people are going to be more willing to accept a diagnosis that compares them to someone who murdered children and blew up a planet.

    On a more personal note, I was in group recently and one of the facilitators made a comparison to the Joan Crawford character in Mommy Dearest. I raised my hand and said "Nobody here is like a child-abusing character in a movie". Her response was she was just giving an example.

    For people who say they want to remove the stigma from mental illness, some mental health providers are astonishingly unaware of the contribution they make to that stigma. First and foremost, MHPs must stop "diagnosing" fictional characters and comparing those characters to patients.

    October 6, 2010 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bethany

      I went through alot of horrible Docter's that didnt care and caused me more mental anguish.Then I found the one who saved my life!!!! In can be very difficult to find a good Docter. Alot of them are pompous and do keep the stigmata going.......Grrrrrrrr

      October 6, 2010 at 17:31 | Report abuse |
  5. Josh A

    I am an RN and work in a mental health hospital. It really is amazing to see people with serious mental illness return to reality after medications are began/modified/restarted...etc. This leads me to believe that serious mental illness is very much biological in nature.

    People seem to think that that someone has much more control over developing a serious mental illness than developing something like breast cancer. This clearly is not true. I would never wish many of the mental illnesses I have seen on my worst enemy. Stigmas = shame = fear to seek treatment = many people living in pain that could be helped!

    Now, don't get me wrong, there sure isn't a pill for everything and not all of them are right for everyone! I've seen the best results in patients who take advantage of drug options combined with therapy and take care of their bodies through diet, exercise and a combined drug or alcohol treatment program when needed.

    I just wish more doctors connected the mind and the body. They are part of a whole person and strongly interrelated.

    October 6, 2010 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      I disagree completely. Medication is not the answer. It just causes addictions and the brain to change. When medication is started, you will never get better. Your symptoms will just be pharmacologically masked until one day your brain is so damaged from the meds that you are worse off before you started. Medications can be great for a little while, but in the long run the are not the answer. Heroin is great for all problems in the short term, then in the long term you get addicted and your life is hindered. Same with psychiatric meds. If it's not addiction, it's tardive dyskinisia or dystonia or memory and cognitive impairment or weight gain and diabetes. They are not the answer. Sure they work somewhat, that doesn't mean they are good for you. I've seen them destroy lives.

      October 6, 2010 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
    • paige

      i agree – good comment

      October 6, 2010 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
    • paige

      i agree with josh a, just to be clear.

      October 6, 2010 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • Bethany

      All I want to say is Thank you Josh A and I agree with you...........Wish more people in the Medical field were like you.......Maybe I just have bad luck,
      Hugggggggzzzzzzzz

      October 6, 2010 at 17:33 | Report abuse |
    • stu

      really, John? You a doctor? You afraid of immunizations for kids too? Flu shots the result of an evil US/WHO conspiracy to help make big pharma more money? Clown.

      October 6, 2010 at 17:46 | Report abuse |
    • SpookyEyes

      Gee, John, how brilliant of you. I wish you could give that awesome insight to my brother, but he's dead. He was schizophrenic and was able to hold down a job and function somewhat normally when he was on his meds. He took his life during one of his paranoid, off his meds episodes. I'm sure he'd have been relieved to know his meds weren't helping him out.

      October 6, 2010 at 18:03 | Report abuse |
    • meds have potential

      John, medication can restore function and reduce deterioration in patients who take the time and have the luck of finding the right combination. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right drug(s) because we can't culture mental illness in a petri dish to see which drug it responds to. Research is working on that. You are partially correct in that some drugs are completely inappropriate for some people and adverse events can happen. There are many biochemical paths, for example, leading to psychosis: too much dopamine, too many receptors, too sensitive receptors, high vs. low affinity state, too much serotonin (yes, really), too many 5-HT1 receptors, etc. Choose a drug that fixes one when you've got the opposite biochemistry and bad things can happen. That's why we all have to go through drug trials. They do suck and some of us die before finding the right meds but dismissing medication categorically is absurd. Mental illness is way behind because it doesn't yet show up on blood tests (but it will) or x-ray (and it's starting to with PET and SPECT) so give it time and follow through before ditching the lot. Many of us live some kind of life because of medication and counseling.

      October 6, 2010 at 18:45 | Report abuse |
    • lmd14

      John is an idiot and has obviously never lived with a paranoid schizophrenic who is putting newspaper over every window in the house and swaring the govt is coming to get her. Cause I have John, and let me tell you when she took the meds she became sane again....unless you are a doctor or someone that has done extensive research on mentally ill patients.......QUIT PUTTING IGNORANT COMMENTS ON HERE!!!!!!!!! Sometimes Im amazed by the ignorance of some people....truely...

      October 6, 2010 at 19:05 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Be careful prescribing Anti-depressants to teenagers.. The FDA which does not act quickly, puts a SUICIDE WARNING on most AD's for children.. The other problem is allowing Medical Drs with NO mental health experience over-prescribe AD's.. They neither have the time or training to follow up frequently with teens who are depressed.. They also mis-diagnos depression and bi-polar which can be fatal.. Anti-depressants should not be the only way to treat depression/anxiexty.. Counseling/Psychotherapy, diet changes, exercise, Full Spectrum Lighting/SAD, bio-feedback, hypnosis, acupuncture are good alternatives to drugs.. If Drugs are the choice best bet to find a Wise Psychiatrist who has experience with these drugs.. A full hr of counseling should be provided by Drs, describing side-effects and withdrawel difficulties.. . More reseach needs to be done ( by non-biased researcg groups) the potential for addiction to these medications.. Getting off of these drugs ( esp. by teens and long term use) can be as hard as opiates.. Get the facts before taking medications.. And be VERY CAREFUL if your children is diagnosed .. The Suicide Warning and Withdrawel affects of AD's make these Medications extreamly dangerous for Teens!

      October 6, 2010 at 21:56 | Report abuse |
    • Larry Pomponovitch

      Well then John, what is the answer? Your really good at saying what ISN't the answer. AD have given millions of people's their lives back so I'll ignore your half-baked comments.

      October 7, 2010 at 00:18 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      John, a lot of meds for mental illness are not addicting or cause brain damage. Abuse of such medicines will
      cause problems and I imagine there are people who do. I suffer from severe depression and take meds for it.
      If it were not for the meds I would be self medicating with alcohol or illegal drugs. I would be in the hospital, in
      jail or dead by now.

      October 7, 2010 at 10:34 | Report abuse |
  6. Sandy

    The President of our company considers anyone that is on anti-depressants a “nut job”. I know because he commented to me after a human resources meeting that he’s “tired of our money going toward these nut jobs on anti-depressants”. He and I have a very good relationship - he respects me and values my opinion, but I know his opinion of me would change if he ever found out I was one of those “nut jobs”.

    October 6, 2010 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • predjudice

      Yes, being one of those nut-jobs who was "outed" by gossip and nearly fired (by physician collegues who feared without any evidence I was dangerous), I am humbled by what homosexual and HIV+ individuals went through in the 1980s and 1990s. One cannot understand discrimination until it is forcibly and unfairly applied to you. Had I actually done anything threatening or bizarre, I would understand the reaction. Carrying a diagnosis with sterling record, I cannot. Stigma is alive and flourishing in the minds of the uneducated, semi-educated and supposedly elitely educated of society. Predjudice knows no boundary and its criteria are limitless. Everyone is responsible for their behavior but no one should be punished solely for their label. Conversely, people who behave badly shouldn't cry unfair descrimination when they've been called out for the behavior. Labels should neither condemn nor protect. They merely describe.

      October 6, 2010 at 19:06 | Report abuse |
  7. Elle

    how do employers find out? it's called family medical leave act. it's called a doctor's note. it's called look up the dr on the internet. it's called office gossip. however it's called, what it is is an invasion of medical privacy laws. i strongly encourage workers to get all dr notes from their primary doctor, not from a mental health practitioner. look: i work for a newspaper for god's sakes, and following a friend's daughter's suicide, which i cleaned up after, i went on the fmla for 26 days. upon my return to work, i was loudly called lazy, despite the fact that i had had only one scheduled day off in 4 1/2 months during a hellish workstint ending less than a month before the suicide. people, these were reporters believing this crap! so yes indeedy, something must be done to change people's set belief systems regarding what we call mental illness...and i for one am of the opinion we begin by completely changing the terms currently in use from the symptom (ie depression) to a less contempt-inducing name. thank you!

    October 6, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. SeanNJ

    "Whether the answer is talk therapy or pharmacology or a combination of both, or some alternative treatment, getting care is critical for those suffering from serious depression."

    There's your reason why the stigma doesn't go away: any condition that can be treated by "talking about it" is not going to have an easy time gaining acceptance as a disease. I'm sorry. It's just not.

    October 6, 2010 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • misnomers

      Talk therapy doesn't treat mental illness at all. It makes it easier to cope with it. There is absolutely no cure for any of the major mental illnesses. Medications and psychotherapy merely make living with the symptoms less painful, help people keep their jobs and teach people some things to avoid doing to reduce relapses. You're right though. Misnomers like "talk therapy" and "depression" are a PR clusterf__ck for those with mental illness. When was the last time someone visiting a cancer patient asked why they haven't "snapped out of it yet"? What about someone with Parkinson's "snapping out of it"? What about someone with f__cked up dopamine, serotonin and white matter tracts (a.k.a. all major mental illnesses) "snapping out of it"? Yeah, we get that all the time but nobody slaps the visitor upside the head and escorts them out for extreme rudeness. Nobody used to believe in germs until the microscope was invented and we could finally see the bazillions of them all over everywhere. It isn't real until it can be seen.

      October 6, 2010 at 19:20 | Report abuse |
    • TreatmentGoals

      Misnomers,

      You say that talk therapy doesn't treat mental illness, but then you go on to describe how it does treat mental illness.

      You say that treatment "merely" makes "living with the symptoms less painful, help people keep their jobs and teach people some things to avoid doing to reduce relapses."

      Perhaps our values differ, but these outcomes (reducing mental anguish, keeping a job, avoiding relapse) sound like GREAT reasons to seek/remain in treatment. No one is claiming that finding/sticking to a viable treatment regimen is easy or that it is a guarantee to total symptom remission but, to many people, being a functioning member of society is actually a desired outcome - even if the underlying mental illness is not "cured."

      October 6, 2010 at 21:59 | Report abuse |
    • TreatmentGoals

      misnomers,

      I am not sure who you mean by "visitors," and don't know where they are visiting you, but their reactions (as you describe) sound very misguided (although they probably genuinely want to help). If it's mental health staff who respond "snap out of it," then they should rethink their career choice, and you should report their behavior to their supervisor.

      October 6, 2010 at 22:32 | Report abuse |
    • Becca

      Some physical illnesses can be "cured" with life style changes. You can change your diet and no longer have diabetes. Same goes for mental illness. You can have talk therapy, learn the mental health hygiene skills you need, and live a mostly normal life. The mind/brain connection exists. On the other hand, some people need both life style changes and meds for their physical, or mental, illness.

      October 6, 2010 at 22:50 | Report abuse |
  9. Michelle

    It is absolutely true that there is still stigma surrounding these issues. I wrote my master's thesis on the subject. Some people are so scared to be "outed" as having a mental health problem that they don't even get the help they need.

    I'm glad, however, that mental illness is receiving some compassionate media attention, however. People like Dr. Gupta are instrumental in leading the way in changing public perceptions about disorders that are painful and prevalent. Imagine how different life would be if the millions of people suffering from mental illness could openly discuss these matters without fear of being treated in a denigrating fashion! It is my hope that this will be our reality in the future. Thank heavens for those who have the courage to stand up and talk about their experiences. These people are helping to save lives.

    October 6, 2010 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bethany

      My mom won't even talk to me about my Mental problems. They are all in Denial and I wish it was'nt like that. I got help on my own and I wish I could help others not to be afraid I hate the Stigmata that comes with it But I am not ashamed because of my Disorder's. I would be estatic if I could help one person to not be afraid and I hope someday I can help many more.....hugggggzzzzz

      October 6, 2010 at 17:43 | Report abuse |
  10. Andrew D

    As far as being of shame of something one does not seek want or get in line for, I say to you , keep your head up because you are some of the strongest of recovery survivers and we are the hope of the misinformed, and unknowledgable of facts and the proof that one can live a life full of joy regardless of the choice of ignorance of others. Knowing the facts over the fear is the empowerment of the path we must take. Being responsible for the things of no fault of our own is the understanding many look for and never find , and that being the love of self and acceptance of the things we have no control of. RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE JUST AS ANY OTHER ILLNESS

    October 6, 2010 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. steve

    An illness is an illness. Mental illnesses are spoken of as spooky, nut cases, etc. No compassion from the world for these human beings. Do you think they choose to have such an illness? It's no different, than anyone saying creepy things about those with heart issues, the big C, diabetes, drug and alcohol problems etc. With proper medication, I know quite a few people are who are billiant and lead productive lives. I often wonder what is the excuse for non mental related individuals? Lazy, feeling sorry for themselves etc. It's a two way street people!

    October 6, 2010 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Lydia

    "John"

    I totally disagree with you. While medication may not be the only answer for all, it is the "only" answer to many.

    Unless my son is on medication, his world comes apart. He hears voices, becomes paranoid, loses his train of thought, cannot concentrate, etc, etc. The list is long.

    Just as there are people who take heart medication to keep their ticker going or people who are diabetic and need insulin shots, in my son's case, his brain malfunctions and the only way to allow him to live as normal as humanly possible is his medication.

    He always hopes he never needs them or could stop them but whenever he does, he ultimately lands up in the hospital for long periods in order to get him stabilized again.

    It's tragic.

    So please John, unless there is something else my son can use that can help him be "normal", I suggest you do some research.

    BTW, my son is 30 yrs old today and has been afflicted for over 16 yrs. Miracles are in short supply.

    October 6, 2010 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Lydia, there are two sides to these Medications.. some patients swear by them.. others are dead.. There is a Suicide warning for Anti-Depressants for Children.. You know the Warning came after many problems with these drugs esp. for children.. I'm glad your child is doing well on his meds.. My son is dead, he was trying to get off his AD's Effexor.. He described withdrawel effects as " getting off effexor is a bitch.. His journal indinating ( Autopsy found no other drugs were found in his systemcated) he was haullicinating and took to much of it.. Drugs can be a two edged sword..

      October 6, 2010 at 22:03 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Bob- The suicide warning for teenagers using antidepressants is primarily for those suffering from severe bouts of depression. Severe depression takes away the ability and motivation to plan, and this includes planning for suicide. If you give a severely depressed teenager antidepressants, the improvements are gradual, and along the way, he will regain his ability to plan. As that ability comes back, he may still be severely depressed and not notice that he is gradually improving; combine this with his newfound desire/ability to plan ahead and think in the long- and short-term and suicide becomes a viable option (in the sense that he can plan for it/motivate himself enough to do it).
      I don't know if that actually makes sense typed up – I can't think of the right words to explain. But I suppose my point is that, as counterintuitive as it might seem, suicide risk may sometimes be an indication of gradual improvement, rather than deterioration, if only because it indicates that the patient is regaining motivation to plan and feel (rather than dealing with the numbness and emptiness that comes with severe depressive episodes). Of course, if the suicide risk should only be temporary – if it doesn't seem to go away the longer the patient is on antidepressants, then it makes sense to evaluate the role the medication is playing and whether or not it's the best option for that patient. Even then, though, medication affects every single patient differently, and to say that a certain medication is "bad" because it affected some people one way is misguided, because the same dosage of the same medication may have greatly improved the lives of other patients.

      October 7, 2010 at 09:56 | Report abuse |
  13. Corey Nesteroff

    5 years ago i went thru depression for the first time, recovered but then relapsed but happy to say for almost 4 years i have been able to live a better life than ever before. i quit smoking, drinking, lost 20lbs, starting running marathons and even triathalons this year. that being said had if i had applied for life insurance when i was a smoker and drinker, my premiums would be lower than they are today. talk about unfair. i am thankful to say i live in canada where and insurance company cannot disqulify me from health care because of pre existing conditions, cause you know what even though i am the healthiest i have ever been, they would deny me

    October 7, 2010 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Corey Nesteroff

    i am very open with my depression, hence the reason i used my full name, in order to drop the stigma i actually make fun of it, tell everyone i am so happy because of my little pink pills and went to the head doctor and he found nothing in my head

    you know what i works, i have had many people i work with come to me for help, in some cases it was just a depressive episode and we talked our way thru it, other cases it was more serious and they sought proper help

    i shock many people when they ask why i dont drink and i tell them because i suffer from depression, they honestly dont know what to say, some people understand right away, others just dont know what to say, i am just happy to say that people can look at me full of life but realize itn can affect everyone, its a disease and they seem to understand that after i talk to them about it.

    articles like this are great to see, at least its out there, we are discussing it and trying to break the stigma

    i have worked for two employers adm and cargill and they both supported me 100% when i went thru this, the managers i worked for had never faced an issue like this before with an employee but they sought advice and brought me help from others within the organization, there is more understanding today then there was even a month ago

    we are making progress just have to keep at it

    we need a comedian that has suffered from depression

    October 7, 2010 at 00:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. NadineW

    Why does this article neglect to discuss SCHIZOPHRENIA???? Everyone feels bad for the depressed people but there's no compassion for people with more severe disorders. We have a long way to go.

    October 7, 2010 at 02:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Sigrun

    Of course there will be stigma as long as they call mental health issues diseases like any other diseases. Take a look at what Professor John Read writes on this issue: http://dmh.mo.gov/cps/initiatives/Read2007.pdf

    October 7, 2010 at 03:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Pete

    Alright – I guess I will be the bad guy. There is stigma because mental diseases are hard to treat and can have terrible results in the workplace and at home. if someone is sick – their productivity might suffer – but it someone has a borderline personality disorder the entire workplace can be disrupted. That's the truth – and that's why there is 'stigma.' If they had easy fixes that really worked for these problems people wouldn't care.

    October 7, 2010 at 07:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Anne Merical

    As a behavioral health therapist for the VA attending and speaking at various conferences and trainings, I would venture to say that oftentimes the stigma of mental illness lies with the actual mental health professionals themselves, especially when it comes to another mental health therapist such as myself who has been in treatment for years for civilian PTSD. At a recent MHA panel discussion on the "mental health needs of returning veterans" where I was the only female and non-veteran, I spoke of my own struggles with PTSD (rape and attempted murder) and being in treatment for years to heal and manage the symptoms. Though I may never have been in combat, I understand the symptoms of PTSD, the importance of seeking treatment, and talking about the trauma. However, after stating this as a panel member to an audience at a MHA breakfast conference, it was more than obvious to me that I was stimatized due to this ommision and alienated after the panel discussion. Mental health participants shook the hands of the male veterans and actually walked passed me to shake the hand of the next male veteran. And, after the panel members stepped down to mingle with those in attendence it was even more obvious to me that I had been stigmatized and alienated with no one approaching me except for the kind WWII vet on the panel and a reporter from Tribune Review. Believe it or not, being diagnosed with a "mental illness" doesn't mean you are crazy, weak, or unstable. And, PTSD is a NORMAL reaction to an abnormal traumatic event with symptoms that can be managed with the help of a good therapist and if needed, medication. In fact, I have had tremendous growth, perseverence, and increased insight/empathy for those struggling with mental illness. Perhaps people in the mental health field need to really take a look at themselves which takes courage and not assume that practitioners don't have mental health issues – we all do. The best practitioners are those that have gone through the very same struggles of their patients/clients, have sought treatment, manage their symptoms, and mature emotionally as a result. If a mental health practitioner can't discuss their own mental health issues than all of you have a long, long journey ahead as far as talking the talk about destigmatizing mental illness.

    November 7, 2010 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anne Merical

      Mike
      Tom
      Anne,
      So, So, true. Thank you for your courage and honesty. This will test how judgemental us mental professionals really are (and we are) and the unease we feel when a colleague speaks freely about their own "mental illness" as proof that they do not see any stigma attached but the mental health professionals in the audience obviously do. Is it the stigma or threatening to other peers who themselves have their own mental illnesses but haven't faced them or sought treatment??

      November 10, 2010 at 21:12 | Report abuse |
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  21. Anne Merical

    An update from my comment posted 11/11/2010 (please read older comment). On April 13, 2011 I receivec a fed ex letter from VA contractor, Valor Healthcare who employed me since 2/9/2009, that I was fired (terminated in nice lingo) effective April 12, 2011 with statement "Due to changing business needs and the hostile and unprofessional behavior toward Valor staff". I had put in my 30 day notice for a 2 week "vacation" (a respite for me and stayed home) which was appoved by Valor, Due to the overwhelmming workload that Valor unrealistically expected ONE mental health clinician to handle, continual harrassment, retaliation, and subjected to a hostile/discriminatory work environment, my physical and mental health began to deteriorate so knew I needed a two week vacation. Prior to this, I worked a minimum of 10 hour days, worked through lunch, and at times left work at 10pm as a sat with homicidal/suicidal patient waiting for ambulance to arrive and other providers including M.D.'s (with salaries of 200K) and Physician Assistants and CRNPs with salaries approaching 100K left work at 5 or 6 pm. And these medical providers were well aware of the fact that on several occasions I was left alone in clinic with homicial/suicidal patient alone as we waited for ambulance to arrive. In a clinic with 7K vets enrolled and 1 mental health clinician, this is 100% evidence that our veterans were not receiving the mental health treatment they so deserved since I was booked out 4-6 weeks and continually was bombarded with crisis walk-ins and crisis referrals from the medical providers in clinic and I was to stop the therapy session I was in (often a crisis assessment with another vet) and immediately assess crisis patient for suicide/homicidal risk as well as coordinate all the requirements for the vets in-patient admission which could take hours. Providing mental health therapy to vets who needed weekly sessions but could only schedule once a month is unethical. Aside from mental health treatment for vets, marital and family therapy, I had an onslaught of crisis calls, calls from probation/parole officers, attorneys, VA psychiatrists, VA neurologists, referral calls for appt. with me, and due to the fact that none of the providers had their own voice mail I relied on incomplete phone messages taken by receptionists which were often misplaced, phone messages that should have been given to medical providers who did not want to take on additional work so dumped it on me, and when a patient or other relevant party called the Valor Healthcare Clinic in Greensburg, the phone lines were short staffed and busy, so their phone calls were transferred to one of Valor's Call centers in 2 other states where the receptionist would take message and fax it back to clinic. Or, if Call center was busy the veteran would be transferred back to the "Valor" Healthcare Clinic with a busy signal and transferred back to Call Center which may also be busy. Many of these phone calls were urgent due to mental health crisis or serious health issues with vet staying on the phone for hours until finally they hung up and drove to clinic to make contact, Of course, if it were a mental health emergency I immediately attended to patient as expected but a whole another story if vet was experiencing physical health concerns, often life threatening (ie kidney failure, heart attack) and the medical providers either did not see them or vet would wait for hours in lobby only to be told to go to closest ER. This had something to do with Valor not making any money if medical provider saw vet not scheduled for their semi-annual/annual appointment or any follow-ups along with medical providers not wanting the extra work. I continually asked for more mental health staff but my desperate pleas for help fell on deaf ears among Valor Corporate with no response. The veterans continually complained about the clinic having only ONE mental health clinician and the stress I was under with double booked appointments, crisis assessments, and zillions of phone calls sitting in a pile of faxes along with checking three different email accounts each day that may be urgent, lack of security, conducting PTSD groups, assisting vets with claims for service connection, administering MMSE fo medical providers to assess for symptoms of dementia, and casemanagement responsibilities that would fill up an entire book. In the clinic there were signs posted (required) by VA Inspector General that it was the duty of vets/staff to report any fraud, mismanagement, waste, abuse, lack of treatment, etc. to specified email and/or phone number listed on wooden plague. So, I did my duty and blew the whistle on Valor Healthcare, some VA practices, medication mismanagement/errors, fraud, harrassment, staff behavior, lack of patient treatment, patient abuse by some LPN's, incompetence, waste, dysfunctional phone system, and discrimination against me based on age, race, gender, and disability aswell as being a past whistle blower. While on vacation my mental and physical heath took a further decline so my PCP and my psychiatrist wrote medical certificate that I was not to return to work until further notice and would not be returning to work on 3/21 from vacation. Valor's HR director along with other Valor corporates would not accept my well known psychiatrists medical certificate and insisted upon specific date for return to work and would not approve FMLA. I was given unpaid discretionary leave for two weeks and my PTO was frozen – this in itself is one of many employment law violations. I returned to my psychiatrist to tell him that "until further notice" was not going to be accepted by Valor Corporate and they wanted another medical certificate from this MD. He was quite disturbed saying this was standard practice but for my sake wrote another medical certificate that tentatively would return to work in 3 months, June 30th and completed short term disability papers to be fed ex'd to HR director by April 7. Well, the information was fed ex'd with signature by April 7 and did not hear a thing until I received a fed ex'd letter that I was terminated effective April 13. Interesting that Valor hired a young, white male who was working in my office exactly 1 month after I was fired, A background/security check takes approx. 4 months. And, interesting that my replacement resigned after a year due to overwhelming workload despite having another full-time mental health clinician that was hired after I was fired. And the therapist prior to me lasted 9 months on the job prior to resigning. I loved my career as a mental health clinician for veterans and know I was effective with several vets writing letters on my behalf to VA, Valor, Congress, etc. about the progress they had made due to the therapeutic relationship they had with Anne Merical, MBA, MSW, LCSW, CMFSW. The veterans were hurt the most by my firing but an organization like VA contractor Valor Healthcare does not care because they are in the business of profiteering off the men and women who risked their lives, mental/physical health, marriages, etc. in fighting for our freedom. Valor's superficial slogan was "BE a Hero to a Hero" which I was but in reality that did not matter. And lastly, I was never disciplined, counseled, "written up" about poor job performancce and performance evaluations were in excellent range except for last one which had inappropriate comments, obvious retaliatory comments, and lies (I was rated on criteria of professionalism for "being best dressed staff in clinic" with Average overall score – I refused to sign this PE. The clinic administrator who harrassed and targeted me on a daily basis as well as contributing to my completely wrongful termination, was fired 2 months after I was. For any veterans reading this, just know the VA contractor Valor Healthcare that has outpatient clinics across the US has epidemic forced resignations/terminations and extremely unethical and illegal/corrupt organizational practices that are unacceptable. They assumed I would walk away like all the other employees who's lives were turned upside down but I didn't – I filed a lawsuit against defendent Valor Healthcare in federal courts. If you google Anne Merical there are two articles in Pittsburgh Post Gazette about the lawsuit filed 11/16/12 and feel free to write or reply to other comments. Justice will be served.

    November 19, 2012 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply

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