Celebrity Sensitivity: Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams, singer most popularly known as part of the trio Destiny’s Child, has revealed that she struggles with depression and has struggled with depression since she was a teenager.

I had to choose to get out of bed and do whatever I needed to do to be happy.

A simplistic approach, but we’ll merely assume that Williams’s depression has been mild.

Sometimes you are going to wake up on the wrong side of the bed or some situation than might have you down in the dumps, but you have to choose to be happy.

According to The Miami Herald, Williams has not taken any medication but has used exercise, therapy, and positive thinking. But Williams isn’t anti-medication either.

Go see a professional so that they can assess you. It’s OK if you’re going through something. Depression is not OK, but it is OK to go get help.

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Celebrity Sensitivity: LeAnn Rimes

LeAnn RImesThe latest star to reveal that she’s suffered from depression and contemplated suicide is LeAnn Rimes. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Rimes confesses to cheating on her husband and admits that she had thoughts about taking her own life during the ordeal. According to the UK’s Daily Mail, the 30-year-old country singer checked into a health facility to deal with anxiety and stress after being criticized for her affair.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Lady Gaga

According to the Daily Mirror, Lady Gaga will be setting up free counseling buses at her Born This Way Ball tour. Lady Gaga said:

At the BornBrave bus you have have access to professional private or group chats about mental health, depression, bullying, school and friends. I feel like most kids don’t look for help because they feel embarrassed so mum and I wanted to break the stigmas around ‘help’ and make it fun.

Talk about a celeb being sensitive to the needs of others.

Celebrity Sensitivity: David Letterman

Letterman_David
David Letterman has gone public about his struggle with depression. He admits that he was reluctant to take any antidepressant medications to help with the problem. After coming down with shingles, Letterman also developed an anxiety disorder. But he finally came to the end of himself and asked his doctor “for anything just to get rid of this depression.” No word on whether he’s doing much better, but the assumption is that he probably is.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Catherine Zeta-Jones & Demi Lovato

Image from people.com

Catherine Zeta-Jones has bravely put her face on the cover People magazine—and on the face of bipolar disorder. And in a less publicized interview, 18-year-old Demi Lovato of teen Disney fame admitted last month to People that she too also suffers from bipolar disorder.

“This is a disorder that affects millions of people and I am one of them,” the [Zeta-Jones], 41, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement in this week’s cover story. “If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it. There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help.”

Last month, Lovato said:

“I never found out until I went into treatment that I was bipolar. Looking back it makes sense,” she says of her diagnosis. “There were times when I was so manic, I was writing seven songs in one night and I’d be up until 5:30 in the morning.”

I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of mental illness fads, but bipolar disorder has such a stigma attached to it that celebrities who seriously suffer from the disorder have a chance to put a face on and say “There’s no shame in getting help.” And while psychotropic drugs certainly aren’t a cure-all in conjunction with talk and behavioral therapy, bipolar disorder can be managed—not just for these celebs but also for anyone who suffers from the disorder.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Catherine Zeta-Jones

Image from people.com

Of all the celebrities I would have pegged with some kind of mental health disorder, Ms. Zeta-Jones would have never made the list. After supporting her husband Michael Douglas through his cancer treatment, she remained quiet about herself only outspoken on issues pertaining to how upbeat and positive the couple was on Douglas’s treatment.

But clearly, being a bedrock for her husband has taken its toll on her. Last week, she checked into a mental health facility seeking treatment for her bipolar II disorder. Bipolar II is characterized by frequent depressive episodes rather than a constant swing of manic-depressive ones. While only Ms. Zeta-Jones knows what’s been going on inside her mind and her heart, I can only imagine that she’s been suffering with some depression for a while but quietly put it aside as her husband struggled to become healthy again.

In the past, I’ve used the Celebrity Sensitivity feature of this blog to mock celebrities who seem to be diagnosed with nearly any mental illness fad that goes around (normally, depression), but this time my heart goes out to Ms. Zeta-Jones who decided to seek treatment for herself instead of putting on a face like everything’s okay and toughing it out.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Pete Wentz

Pete WentzI’ve written about fellow bipolar sufferer Pete Wentz before here. How has he managed to keep his highs and lows in check?

His son, Bronx.

“While I’ll always be bipolar, I find it easier to deal with now. With marriage and fatherhood, I’ve finally found two fixed points in my life. They’ve taught me patience. They’ve also taught me that I don’t need to feel guilty about being happy. My emotional seasons are less extreme.

“In the past my brain would never stop. Now I’m a father, the world no longer revolves around me.”

I’ve always wondered whether having a child would change the way I deal with bipolar disorder. Of course, I’m not going to have a child simply as a test case in the hopes that he or she would “cure” me but I think having someone so completely dependent upon me would cause me to think twice about trying to kill myself.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Ted Haggard

Ted HaggardTed Haggard, the former evangelical pastor of megachurch New Life Church, recently admitted on Oprah Winfrey’s show to contemplating suicide after the public learned about his sexual encounter with a male escort.

“I was dying. I had settled in my mind exactly how I was going to commit suicide,” Haggard told Winfrey. “I was preparing, and in my life, Jesus came to me and he said, ‘Now, now I can save you.’ “

I hope Mr. Haggard can find other resources to help him move past this difficult trial in his life so that suicide is not a fall-back option. God has an amazing way of taking broken things and piecing them back together, even if we’re the ones who cause the problem. I feel like living proof of that.

United States of Tara

United States of Tara

I don’t have much familiarity with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) but Showtime has a new show called United States of Tara in which the main character (Tara) has three alter egos: Buck (thinks she’s a guy), T (think she’s a 15-year-old), and Alice (turns Betty Crocker when she feels like she’s a bad mother). Then Tara is… Tara trying to be a normal wife and mother. I watched a truncated episode of the pilot and the show seems interesting. I just hope that the husband of 17 years doesn’t suddenly ditch Tara for her cuter, younger, and non-DID sister Charmaine. (I sigh because I see it coming anyway.)

I don’t personally know anyone with DID. Does anyone want to check out the pilot and tell me what they think? It’s 30 minutes. I’m curious to see if someone gets the impression that it’s a mixture of poking fun at DID and showing a realistic aspect of what life must be like with the disorder.

Update: Apparently, Showtime takes DID pretty seriously.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Lily Allen

Lily AllenFor those of us not hip-to-the-jive, Lily Allen is a British pop singer who allegedly attempted suicide when she was a teen. Celebrity blog Pop Crunch reports:

The 24-year-old singer was committed after she was left so distraught by the breakdown of her first romance that she tried to “slit her wrists,” the 24-year-old singing star’s half-sister has revealed to a British tabloid.

“Aged 18, she tried to slit her wrists when her first relationship ended and she ended up in The Priory rehab clinic for four weeks,” Sarah Owen, 29, who shares the same mother with Lily said in an interview with Grazia Magazine this week.

“I had a big gang of friends but Lily was more of a loner. She had no-one to talk to about getting her first period or breaking up with her first boyfriend.

“Would it have been different if we’d been closer? Probably,” Sarah says.

As you can tell, Sarah was a caring big sister, really looking out for her little Lily. However, it seems like the incident was only a shadow of mental health struggles to come as she became famous. Lily has publicly said that she sees a therapist for depression ranging from constant attacks in the media to a miscarriage. An excerpt from Billboard magazine notes:

And does she ever worry the attention might push her down the self-destructive path that’s been trod by Spears and Winehouse?

“No,” she says. “I know myself well enough. As soon as I feel remotely depressed I’m checked into a clinic and having intensive therapy. I’ve seen enough people fall apart to know that’s not going to happen to me.”

It’s about time we had some smart celebrities who know when to check themselves before they wreck themselves.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Rolex watches helped Owen Wilson overcome suicide

Wow. If this isn’t a blatant advertisement for Rolex watches, I don’t know what is:

Owen WilsonAfter a frightening suicide attempt in 2007, Rolex watches and benefits appeared to play an essential role in actor Owen Wilson’s recovery. On August 29, 2007, Time magazine reported: “speculation about his drug use, depression over his May break-up from Hudson and a recent fight with a friend have peppered the coverage of Wilson’s hospitalization. A People magazine cover story out Friday quotes a friend as saying: “Owen was very despondent. He slit his wrists. He almost did not make it.” It was a dark period in Wilson life, and Rolex played a key role in helping Owen regain his bearings and his success.

RolexAlthough Owen Wilson has worn a Rolex GMT Master in the popular films Wedding Crashers and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, he chooses to wear a Rolex Submariner in his everyday life. It is not surprising that he would make such a choice. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner originally was designed for diving and known for their resistance to water. The first Submariner was introduced to the public in 1954 at the Swiss Watch Fair. Copied by other watchmakers, the Rolex Submariner is recognized as a classic, and one of the most widely recognized luxury products in the world. The Rolex Submariner is part of Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual Professional line. After returning home from the hospital, Owen was captured by a photographer walking on the beach, wearing his Rolex Submariner. Later, he was seen riding his mountain bike in Santa Monica with the Rolex Submariner on his wrist. Obviously, the quality of a Rolex watch helped Owen realize and appreciate the quality of his own life.

If I had known that the answer to overcoming suicide was this easy, I could have avoided myself years of trouble.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Joe Pantoliano & Blake Fielder-Civil

Actor Joe Pantoliano, best known for his roles in The Goonies and The Sopranos, has recently admitted to struggling with depression. He didn’t tell anyone up until 3 years ago. When a close friend committed suicide, the event prompted him to seek help. He has begun the site No Kidding, Me Too to help fight the stigma of mental illness and encourage others to get help.

Blake Fielder-CivilAlso in depression news, Amy Winehouse’s troubled husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, has been receiving counseling in prison due to worry that Winehouse is still abusing drugs.

“Blake is on the verge of a nervous breakdown,” a prison insider told The Sun. “He has stopped his mopping job, which may sound funny, but it gave him something to do. Instead he mopes around his cell.

Something tells me that Fielder-Civil is not taking drugs — antidepressants, of course — in prison.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Juliana Hatfield & George Michael

Juliana HatfieldJuliana Hatfield, a singer who enjoyed great success in the 1990s, expressed frustration with the PR machine that covered up her bout with severe depression. So severe that she canceled a European tour. Her publicist spread word that she was suffering from “nervous exhaustion.” However, Hatfield reveals:

[My depression was] so unbearable that I was going to jump out of a window to get away from it . . . I needed to check myself into some kind of psychiatric-treatment facility.

I wondered why my publicist hadn’t simply told everyone the plain truth . . . instead of issuing such a vague, all-purpose ‘nervous exhaustion’ line, which . . . as far as I know isn’t even a real diagnosis.

Hatfield, who has an album due out in mid-August, appears to have sacrificed long-term mainstream success in exchange for her mental well-being. Given the choice she had to make, I’m sure she couldn’t be happier.

(Hat tip: Powerline A.D.)

On another note, George Michael (who is currently on tour) recently divulged his 20-year battle with depression on Good Morning America. He attributed his music to helping him cope with such events as the deaths of his boyfriend and his mother.

More Famous People With Mental Illness

The local NAMI chapter has literature all over a counter at my local library. One of the pieces of literature actually was a 5×7 index card with a list of famous people who struggled with mental illness. It was kind of interesting so I figured I’d share it. Some I’d already known about; others were a bit of a surprise. How did they figure out who had bipolar disorder back in the 1800s?

Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrity Sensitivity: 135 Famous Celebrities and Their Mental Health

The Pop-Crunch Show has a list of 135 Famous People Who Struggled with Depression. I sit on the fence and think that it should probably be retitled "135 Famous People Who Struggled with Mental Health Issues."

But then again, we could throw nearly every celebrity in there, huh? I’m bummed that Tom Cruise isn’t on the list.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Heather Locklear, Ruslana Korshunova, and Adam Duritz

Heather LocklearHeather Locklear, most famous for her roles in T.J. Hooker and Dynasty, checked into an Arizona facility for treatment of anxiety and depression on June 19. As of July 2, rumors reported that she was still checked into the facility. Her publicist issued a statement on June 24:

“Heather has been dealing with anxiety and depression. She requested an in-depth evaluation of her medication and entered into a medical facility for proper diagnosis and treatment,” says Locklear’s rep, Cece Yorke. “This is a confidential medical matter and no further statement will be released.”

It seems that her bout of depression began after her split from rocker Richie Sambora to whom she was married for about 10 years. It appears that her current partner, actor Jack Wagner, has been a strong source of support and encouragement for her.

However, in other upsetting news, 21-year-old model Ruslana Korshunova jumped from the window of her Manhattan apartment in what appears to be a suicide. No one is quite sure what caused it but the based on the poetry that she posted on a website, the New York Daily News has proposed the idea that it was over “a lost love.”

Adam DuritzFinally, Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz revealed to Men’s Health magazine that he suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID).  John Grohol of PsychCentral quoted an excerpt from the interview:

What makes my case even worse is that every night I go out on stage and have this incredible emotional connection between me, the band, and the audience. Then, just like that, it’s over. I go backstage, back to the bus, back to my hotel room, and sit there all by myself. That deep connection is yanked away in an instant. It’s like breaking up with your girlfriend over and over again, every night.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Kirsten Dunst

Kirsten Dunst I’m not a fan of Kirsten Dunst or her acting (but Interview with the Vampire was pretty good) but I have to give her sympathy if she was depressed enough to check into a hospital. Her admission comes toward the end of Depression Overawareness and Overmedication Week and May’s Mental Health Awareness Month.

In February of this year, Dunst checked into Cirque Lodge Treatment Center, a “posh facility” in Utah that has treated the likes of Eva Mendes (wouldn’t say) and Lindsay Lohan (substance abuse).

In any event, Dunst stayed low-key about her treatment for depression.

As for why she decided to talk about her struggles now, Dunst tells E!, “Now that I’m feeling stronger, I was prepared to say something … Depression is pretty serious and should not be gossiped about.”

(Does this count as gossiping?)

Dunst dealt with her depression allegedly by partying and engaging in “wild nights.” However, a supportive friend says that she had been struggling for quite a while.

“She’s been crying a lot lately, ” said the friend. “Everybody hits that bottom where you feel [so] scared that that one heavy night of partying can really wake you up. It’s good she’s getting herself help.”

I’m glad that she was able to get treatment. Although I still envy the “posh facility” part of it. Checking in to a hospital is never fun but I can only imagine that celebrities are treated comfortably. See it here.

(Hat tip: Gianna at Beyond Meds)

Celebrity Sensitivity: Maurice Benard

This one’s for the women.

If you’re anything like me, sometime during the 90’s you watched the long-running soap opera General Hospital at one point or another. Well, remember bad boy Sonny Corinthos?

Maurice BenardMaurice Benard, the actor behind the character, has openly admitted to struggling with severe bipolar disorder and is a spokesperson for Mental Health America. While I’m not sure which came first (the chicken or the egg), Benard’s charcter, Sonny, also struggles with bipolar disorder on the show. In the past, I’ve read that he flew into rages so bad that he needed to be hospitalized and had to take time away from the set to recover. It’s only fitting that Sonny’s character — as ruthless as he is — shows a true side of Benard who seeks to educate viewers about the disorder.

Combined with his stressful career in organized crime, Sonny’s bipolar disease has caused him to routinely break out in acts of senseless violence.  The most infamous example of Sonny’s violent side was when Sonny, during one of his “manic” moods, shot his wife Carly in the skull while she was in the process of giving birth to his son.

That episode sounds like it might have pissed me off instead. But Benard seemed okay with it.

“Two years ago the head writer came up to me about doing a breakdown story. I said as long as it’s done to educate people and to make it right.  And we did it.  It was fantastic,” the General Hospital actor added.

I wonder what people learned from the overall storyline.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Christina Ricci, Mel Gibson, and Britney Spears

Liz Spikol has a new post on celebrities talking about mental disorders. This time, it’s Christina Ricci and Mel Gibson. Ricci has previously admitted to suffering from anorexia but now admits to suffering from depression. Gibson, on the other hand, said in a 2002 interview that he was bipolar (manic-depressive back in the day). Then she’s got a whole list of people who have recently admitted to depression.

Then there’s Britney Spears. If you don’t know who she is, be thankful. For the rest of us who spend our time following celebrity news, there have been rumors swirling around recently that she is pregnant because she’s got a big, protruding belly (bigger than the botched VMA’s last year) even though she’s been exercising regularly.

Britney SpearsAccording to the Daily Mail, Spears isn’t pregnant but seriously bloated as a result of her medication.

A source close to the family says that Britney has been struggling with her weight ever since she had her second son Jayden James, 20 months, and the medication has not helped.

The pop star has been back in training in preparation for a comeback, spending plenty of time on the treadmill – but despite all the effort, she is failing to regain the svelte figure which made her famous.

I wonder what antipsychotics she’s on. Seroquel?

Finally, ABC News wrote about celebrities who suffer from various mental illnesses. I’d been wanting to blog on this some time ago but never had the chance. BPD in OKC beat me to it.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Juanita Bynum

Juanita BynumAs reported by BET News, Juanita Bynum, a televangelist who is in the middle of divorcing her husband Thomas Weeks III, admitted that she wanted to kill herself when she saw her marriage falling apart.

“Suicide crossed my mind … You know, I felt hopeless,” Bynum says in a two-part episode of the TV show “Divorce Court. “I didn’t because the name Bynum represents a legacy of people that have gone before me and had I done that I would have given too much power to an individual to not just wipe me out but to wipe out the integrity of the legacy I was born in.”

There’s a debate in the comments section of this post in which people are arguing that Bynum, who calls herself a prophetess, is human and is allowed to have a weak moment like Jesus did in the garden but there are others who aren’t taking her claim seriously citing her “self-absorbed” reasoning about the “Bynum legacy.”

Suicide? If you believe that I have a bridge I want to sell you. She is too infatuated with herself to do that. We need to stop listening to this person of continuous drama. She does not practice what she preaches.

Many people reach a point in their lives where they either have suicidal thoughts or consider committing suicide but move past it. I’m sure Bynum falls into this category, and it’s understandable. J.K. Rowling recently admitted to something similar while she was in the middle of divorce proceedings.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth PaltrowActress Gwyneth Paltrow has come clean about her bout with postpartum depression after the birth of her son Moses. Speaking to Vogue magazine, Paltrow said:

“I didn’t know I had it until after it was over. I just didn’t know what was wrong with me. I felt really out of my body. I felt really disconnected. I felt really down. I felt pessimistic.”

Katherine Stone gives her perspective on this story at Postpartum Progress.

Talk about stigma

A while ago, posted on J.K. Rowling who spoke of her battle with suicidal thoughts. Etta at Depression Marathon made a post on some comments left on a digg link about the news.

Here are a select few of the 150 current comments on digg.com. Warning: if you have a weak stomach or a low frustration tolerance, you may want to discontinue reading now.

   1. umm, big deal. who hasn’t thought about suicide before? oops…. thats right. my fault. because she’s famous this is somehow more important.
  …
   6. she should have gone through with it
   7. WHY IS THIS ON THE FRONT PAGE!!!!!The woman is one of the richest people on the planet. So how is this supposed to make any difference in ANYONE’S life or situation. WHO CARES!!!!!Kevin please fix the algorithm to keep crap like this away from those of us who actually give a shit about what gets here. This makes Digg BORING and less interesting and intellectually useful than it used to be.

  10. depression isn’t a disease. It’s a state of mind & nothing more than a word. snap out of it!

There’s not much left to say…there were a few defenders among the haters, but the vast majority are reflected within the 10 statements I’ve included above. Wow…

Explains why mental health news is so unpopular.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Half of Us

Pete WentzCelebrity Crust has a post on Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy who is doing a campaign on behalf of Half of Us, a mtvU-site geared toward college students that focuses on mental health issues.

Wentz was joined stars such as Mary J. Blige and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan as a spokesperson for the Jed Foundation’s Half Of Us campaign which is aimed at cutting student suicide rates.

The site also deals with issues such as eating disorders, stress, substance abuse, cutting, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. As part of Generation Y (or Z or XYZ), I grew up loving mtv as a teen. Now I can’t stand it. (Mainly because it’s reality-TV show channel for than music television.) But I have to hand it to the mtv networks this time. They got it right. Use celebrities if you have to so that college students will be less hesitant to seek the help they need.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Pete Wentz

Pete WentzOk. I recently posted on Pete Wentz, bassist for Fall Out Boy, who has openly admitted to struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. He recently said that his relationship with Ashlee Simpson and and regular therapy sessions have helped him to overcome depression. There is no mention whether he took psych drugs as part of his recovery.

But Wentz is convinced that although he still battles with mental health issues, his relationship with Simpson has made him more emotionally balanced.

He says, “The hardest thing about depression is that it is addictive.
It begins to feel uncomfortable not to be depressed. You feel guilty
for feeling happy.

Spoken like someone who really struggles with depression. Wentz’s story underscores some points from my “about me” post that emphasizes the need for encouraging and healthy relationships.

Celebrity Sensitivity: J.K. Rowling

J. K. RowlingFamed author of the “Harry Potter” series, J.K. Rowling admits that she suffered from suicidal thoughts after the breakdown of her first marriage when she was in her mid-20s. She attributes her recovery to “invaluable” counseling. There was no mention of her overcoming depression with medication in the article.

Another post on Celebrity Sensitivity either later or tomorrow…

Celebrity Sensitivity: Steve-O

I’ve never watched the show Jackass but apparently the big star from the show, Steve-O, is on suicide watch. Steve-O (real name: Stephen Glover) was recently charged with cocaine possession by LA police so it’s likely that he was under the influence of drugs when threatened to take his own life. He also is said to suffer from bipolar disorder. (I told you it’s the hip mental illness!) PerezHilton.com quotes Star magazine that first broke the story:

"Steve is stabilized on meds at this point," the source says. "He was also treated for burns on his skin as if he had been putting cigarettes out on his own body."

"Right now he’s in his extreme mania," a family member tells the mag. "His concerned friends and family are hoping he’ll seek treatment. He doesn’t need jail, he needs therapy. We’re just really hoping that this will be the wake-up call that gets him back to himself."

This is another celebrity’s antics we can take seriously. Steve-O left suicide notes for friends and family. While his drug charges shouldn’t be dismissed just because he’s famous, this family member is right; he needs treatment. If you want to see a disturbing photo that could be seen as a foreshadowing of this incident, see this post at PerezHilton.com.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Courtney Love & Heather Locklear

Courtney Love Sheesh. Talk about sensitivity on this one. Rumors have been flying around that Courtney Love (widow of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain) is bipolar. Love goes ballistic refuting those speculations on her MySpace page:

and i hear now i am “Bi Polar” uhhhh…thats more nuts than I will ever be. I may be Eccentric, i certainly speak my mind and am slow to put out a record i need to mean the world to ME, and im sure i am quite Nuerotic (sic) but “Bi Polar” . Thats just slander.I shoot straight from the hip and spellcheck has NOTHING to do with REALITY.

Ok, Love is just crazy in general. I can respect that.

In other celeb somewhat-mental-health-related news, paramedics responded to a suicide call that police believed was from Heather Locklear. However, police soon found out it was a hoax and the call didn’t even originate from her house. Someone’s tryin’ to mess with Sammy Jo… (There’s a throwback for ya.)

Celebrity Sensitivity – it's back!

Because I’ve fallen off track with blogging for so long, I completely forgot what I called my celebrity feature. (My husband happily chimed in to remind me.)

Lily AllenRight now, the depressed celeb of the moment is singer Lily Allen. The New Zealand Weekend Herald reports that Ms. Allen checked into a London clinic after she suffered a miscarriage and broke up with the baby’s father.

If that isn’t enough to make anyone depressed, I don’t know what would. I usually rail on celebrities who shroud themselves with the cloak of depression but hearing the circumstances surrounding Allen’s depressive episode is certainly understandable. I’m glad she was cognizant enough to recognize that she needed treatment.

(Image courtesy Musichead)

Can Zoloft induce rage?

Furious Seasons has a post on WWE wrestler Chris Benoit, who possibly may have taken Zoloft shortly before he committed the murder of his wife and child. The article on pwtorch.com that FS linked to refers to the possibility that Benoit's friend and doctor, Phillippe Astin III, may have prescribed the drug to Benoit on Friday, the day before he killed his wife.

There are definitely some funky mental issues behind Benoit's motives for killing his family, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Zoloft played a part in influencing him to do so. I recently mentioned Christopher Pittman who killed his grandparents in 2001 then proceeded to set their house on fire when he was on an adult dosage of 200 mg of Zoloft. He was 12. Stephany of soulful sepulcher commented that her daughter suffered from a similar problem while on 150 mg Zoloft:

Pittman was about the same age my daughter was then, and she was on 150mg of Zoloft a day, and that med changed her personality into a full blown all day raging person. She had to go inpatient to get off of it, and once off of it, she's never raged like that again. The Pittman story is very sad, as are all of the others associated with antidepressant use and teen violence. Columbine had Luvox, there's Accutane–it's beyond me how this can be overlooked in connection.

I wonder if there are other stories floating out there now about how Zoloft – an antidepressant – has caused similar behaviors. It'd be interesting to observe whether Zoloft causes hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Chris Benoit

Chris BenoitMany of you have probably heard about WWE wrestler Chris Benoit’s murder-suicide. If this is news to you, here’s the skinny:

CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said Wednesday that it may never be known whether the deaths were linked to steroids or so-called “roid-rage.”

“The drugs said to be found in the home are a synthetic form of testosterone,” Gupta said. “A lot of people use it to build muscle mass, but there are longstanding known relationships between the steroids and roid rage. It could lead to psychosis and anti-social behavior and depression.”

Investigators found the bodies of Nancy and Daniel Benoit with Bibles placed next to them, authorities have said. “The presence of a Bible by each is also not an act of rage,” said the WWE.

Former professional wrestler Del Wilkes said athletes use steroids to gain strength and size, which are key to success in the wrestling world. But he warned that the drugs sometimes come with “moments of uncontrollable rage.”

“You can feel it coming on but there’s nothing you can do about it,” Wilkes said. “The next thing you know, a minor argument has gone into a full-fledged rage, when you’ve got your hands around somebody’s neck. You’re in a fight and doing things you wouldn’t normally do.”

Wilkes also said the drugs can also cause “tremendous” depression “when guys are coming off steroids after they’ve been on it for a long period of time.”

Interesting. In reading tons of articles on this story, as of two weeks ago, Benoit’s tests for steroid use came in negative. Toxicology tests could take up to two weeks to be conclusive.

I find this murder-suicide to be incredibly bizarre. Not that murder-suicides are rare (unfortunately), but Benoit made this “event” – for lack of a better term – incredibly dramatic. It’s possible that he placed Bibles next to each of the bodies in a show of religion – probably hoping that God would redeem each individual soul in the house. I tried to go on this weird explanation to my husband that Benoit was trying to draw parallels between Jesus’ death over the course of three days and that Benoit did the same thing, but looking back now, I guess it’s a stretch.

Regardless, this situation prompts further investigation as to why Benoit would have done such a thing. Perhaps he did suffer from ‘roid rage. Or maybe there are deeper issues that haven’t surfaced yet. Since the authorities found all the bodies Wednesday, details will probably continue to unravel during the next few weeks.

I hate to bring in the mental health issue up in this discussion, but I can’t imagine Benoit was in a healthy state of mind in the weeks leading up to the murders. What occurred in the house wasn’t a random decision – it was well-planned and well-thought out.

From what I’ve gathered, other WWE wrestlers say that Benoit was very quiet and private about his family life. News reports say that in 2003, his wife Nancy filed for divorce and get a restraining order on him. In the filing, she mentioned she suffered from domestic abuse. Was the violent man on stage really that violent at home as well?

As far as I know, there’s no DSM classification for violent or “anger problem.” The closest thing anyone would get is psychosis, I would think. And even then, most psychotics are harmless. (I’m not talking about the informal term “psycho,” used to refer to someone who committed a heinous crime. OK, maybe he was informally psycho.)

I’m going to assume here that Benoit had serious marital problems with a really bad temper. Nancy was going to file for divorce again and probably threatened to take full custody of their 7-year-old son. Benoit probably thought to himself, No way is she leaving me and taking my son away from me. We’re here together til’ death do us part. He probably didn’t want his son to live with the shame of having a father who killed his mother and/or himself so he murdered him too. Regardless, I’ll never understand how anyone could harm a child.

Benoit’s fans and fellow wrestlers have lost an incredible amount of respect for him now and rightly so. (Not that it matters since he’s dead and doesn’t have to contend with that.) Instead of dying as a WWE legend, his memory will be tarnished because of his crime.

John Travolta: Psychotropic meds are the source of all evil!

I saw an article somewhere that John Travolta thinks the same way about psychiatry as Tom Cruise. Have your hubby fill you in on that and write about it in one of your celebrity posts. 🙂 ~ Stephany

He did and so I shall.

John TravoltaIt seems that Scientology has a big to-do about hating psychiatric assistance. If you don’t know about Tom Cruise’s opinion, you’ve been living under a rock for way too long. Now, John Travolta has jumped on the bandwagon saying:

I still think that if you analyse most of the school shootings, it is not gun control. It is psychotropic drugs at the bottom of it.

So yeah, I’ve stopped following the Cho thing, but I don’t believe he was on any psychotropic medication. Hence, Travolta’s assessment (or assumption or whatever) is invalid. And really, where would he get such a fallacy? Doesn’t he know that antidepressants are the true source for school shootings?

[kidding]

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Advance apologies for sounding like I’m in a cynical mood. I’m working on something today that I’m not fond of.


An article in Newsday (by the Associated Press) says that researchers are becoming hopeful that hormonal therapy can ward off mental health decline in menopausal women, such as dementia. It seems that previous research found that hormonal therapy produced negative results, but the new research suggests that timing may be the defining factor. Older women in the later stages of menopause seem to be at more risk for heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer. Doctors are saying hormone therapy may work in women in the earliest stages of menopause.

The Long and Short of It

  1. Researchers have discovered that the malfunction of a gene thought to be associated with  schizophrenia or depression seems to have symptoms associated with those illnesses. They figured it out thanks to our trusty mice. The mutated gene is called DISC1 (Disrupted in schizophrenia 1).
  2. Breast-feeding helps new moms battle depression. Consuming foods with omega-3 fatty acids also provides benefits. According to an author named Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, breast-feeding lowers stress levels. However, if the mother is having issues feeding her child, it can have the opposite effect and bring on depression.
  3. Kathy CronkiteWalter Cronkite’s daughter Kathy has a book, The Edge of Darkness, which details her battle with depression. Oh, and by the way, Joan Rivers and Mike Wallace deal with depression too. (That’s in the book.) EDIT: Polly of polarcoaster.net let me know that Cronkite’s book isn’t new.  She was just discussing her experience with depression in Cincinnati’s The Enquirer.
  4. A new study shows that chronic depression may lead to diabetes in older people.

“The culprit appears to cortisol, a hormone produced in response to stress. When someone is depressed, cortisol levels rise. If depression is chronic, cortisol levels may stay consistently high.” – Debra Manzella, R.N.

Also, make sure you’re working on your 300+ crunches daily:

“Excess belly fat is a known risk factor for diabetes.”

Loose Screws Mental Health News

I haven’t done this for a while so hopefully I can pick this up again a little more regularly. (crosses fingers)


Read a heart-wrenching story in the UK Daily Mail about a mother whose postpartum depression led her to begin slitting her wrists.

Tom ChaplinTom Chaplin, singer for the band Keane, has admitted to contemplating suicide.

Tom – who was taking up to two grams of cocaine a day – revealed to Britain’s Q Magazine: “I was at the end of my tether in Japan. I was tired of my life and feeling pretty suicidal. I got off the plane and called my dad. I’d told him that I’d left the band and that I was falling apart. I checked myself into The Priory.”

Chaplin’s interesting view:

Despite his own drugs hell, Tom says it’s a personal decision to experiment with substances. He claims troubled rock star Pete Doherty should be left to take all the drugs he wants.

Tom said: “No-one’s got any right to stop him killing himself.”

An article in the Chicago Tribune on how VNS is beginning to show benefits for some patients. Which reminds me, browse on over to VNSdepression.com to learn more.

Nicholas Vakkur must have read the Treatment Advocacy Center’s post on how the CATIE study shows an increase in violent offenses by mentally ill patients (namely those with psychosis and schizophrenia). He refutes this idea on dissidentvoice.org:

Individuals with a mental illness are far more likely to be the victims, rather than the perpetrators of violence, while the vast majority of people who commit acts of violence against others are not in fact mentally ill.

This rush to stereotype individuals suffering from psychiatric illness as likely murderers is reckless and lacks credulity. Mental illness has no role in the majority of violent crimes committed in our society. Alcohol and substance abuse far outweigh mental illness as factors contributing to violence, while the strongest predictor of violent and/or criminal behavior is a past history of violence and criminality, not a major mental illness.

Celebrities take undisclosed money to endorse pharma drugs

This is old news, but I found it interesting enough to put up here because of my obsession with celebrities (although I haven’t been keeping up with them recently).

Walk of FameBrandweekNRX posted about the FTC investigating pharmaceutical companies paying stars “undisclosed” amounts of money to endorse medication. BrandweekNRX has the entire list, but here are some of my favorites:

  • Alonzo Mourning of basketball team Miami Heart – Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J’s) Procrit for anemia
  • Sally Field, an outspoken activist for osteoporosis awareness – Roche Therapeutics’ Boniva
  • Holly Marie Combs of Charmed – Ortho contraceptives for J&J’s subsidiary, Ortho McNeil
  • Terry Bradshaw, my beloved football commentator – GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Paxil
  • Lorraine Bracco of The Sopranos – Pfizer’s Zoloft

Attribution: CLPsych

Madonna's Mentally Ill: A Closer Look at Narcissists

MadonnaOK – I admit: I’m a huge Madonna fan. I was crazy enough to plunk down $300 (That I’d saved up for) to attend her most recent concert tour. And while I do like reading about her occasionally about her site madonna.com, her publicist, Liz Rosenberg, took really cheap shots at Britney Spears’ meltdown:

While other gawk-worthy celebs suffer meltdowns or embarrass themselves with ugly epithets, Madonna forever floats above the fray. She has triumphed by keeping her toes planted on the treadmill and her mind firmly on the bottom line.

It’s ironic that a woman who initially rose to popularity on the strength of controversy should sustain that career by clean living.

It makes for a particularly brutal contrast to the woman who looked, just a year and a half ago, like her obvious successor.

When Madonna planted that big wet one on Britney Spears’ kisser at the MTV Awards, everyone viewed it as the ultimate passing of the torch: the grand dame graciously handing off her crown to a new generation’s pop tart.

Now, it looks like the opposite was happening. Madonna was apparently laying down a gauntlet and offering up a challenge. “You’ve had a nice run, kid,” she seems to have been saying. “Now try to keep that up for two more decades.”

That Britney couldn’t even keep it up for one tenth that time – while Madonna blithely re-adjusted her crown and moved on – says everything about the difference between the two stars’ approach to their careers and lives.”

All that was really unnecessary. Perhaps it was a joke? I take everything too seriously these days. Rosenberg is also Madonna’s best friend so this was probably done with Madge’s approval. Essentially Madge/Rosenberg kicked someone while she was already down. As much as I enjoy Madonna’s music, it just shows how insensitive and ruthless she is to this day. (I don’t care who she has adopted.)

“Madonna’s method gave her yet another rousing career resurrection in the last two years. Her just-in-time return-to-the-club album, “Confessions on a Dance Floor,” brought her back to
multiplatinum sales after suffering her one (and only) poor-selling stinker of a CD, “American Life.” Madonna’s subsequent tour, last summer, was the most lucrative of the season.

While Cher has sustained an impossibly lengthy career as well, hers slogged through long desert stretches before finding fresh water. Madonna has danced from oasis to oasis with barely a dry patch in sight. Now 48, she gives every sign of being able to carry her pop torch for as long as she so desires.”

How unbelievably conceited and narcissistic. (At least she was willing to admit that American Life sucked – mainly because critics panned the album and its “supposed” antiwar message.) According to the world of Madonna, she is queen and she rules. I, a subservient peasant, will formally declare that Madonna’s got a mental illness: Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Celebrity sensitivity: Anne Hathaway and Mark Curry

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway recently admitted to her depression:

“Anne Hathaway says she suffered from anxiety and depression in her teens, but that she rejected medication and instead worked through her troubles.

“I said to Mom the other day, ‘Do you remember that girl? She has now gone, gone to sleep. She has said her piece and she is gone,’ ” Hathaway, 24, tells Britain’s Tatler magazine. “But then I thought, ‘I so remember her, only she is no longer part of me.’ ”

She continues, ‘I am sorry she was hurting for so long. It’s all so negatively narcissistic to be so consumed with self.'”

I suffered from depression when I was a teen. And sure, puberty – especially in women – causes all sorts of funky things to go awry. (No thanks to estrogen.) I do believe that teenage girls can suffer from severe depression caused by a “chemical imbalance.” However, I tried to “work through” my troubles and ended up in psych hospitals — twice. I’m so glad that Ms. Hathaway got over herself.

As for her last quote, “It’s all so negatively narcissistic to be so consumed with self,” I agree with it to some extent. Anxiety and depression are a form of self-absorption. If not, then why are MDD and GAD patients (especially) sent off to therapy to “work through” their troubles? While I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s “negatively narcissistic” (bad connotation), there are psychological troubles that can be influenced by chemical fluctuations in the body. To generalize and say that people can just “work through” their troubles on their own conveys the idea that mentally ill people do not need to seek treatment. I’d like to someone in the psych community come down so hard on her that she’d need to make a statement to justify this one. But it won’t happen. It’s okay to slam mentally ill people, but don’t slam race, gays, or those with addictions. What a double-standard. (attribution to The Trouble With Spikol)

Mark CurryFor those who are old enough to remember the show, “Hanging With Mr. Cooper,” comedian Mark Curry ended up suffering from depression after an accident in April which burned just over a fitfth of his body. Curry’s background in comedy helped push him to recovery, although it wasn’t easy.

“I was depressed,” he said. ”I thought about committing suicide, but where in a hospital room is a man who’s 6’6” going to hang himself?”

Curry says that fellow comedians such as Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, and Bill Cosby helped him push through his depression and focus on his receovery.

“’That’s how I got through it, my friends calling me.’

All jokes aside, Curry said the accident is serving as a catalyst to make some changes in his life. He’s found two new causes— raising money for burn victims and bringing attention to depression, which is still a huge taboo in the African American community.”

It’s good to see an black man raising awareness on depression and the circumstances that can lead a person to depression and suicide. I’m not happy that this happened to him, but I’m glad something good can come from it.

As for Ms. Hathaway, she is just part of a long list of celebrities continuing the “fashionable” trend of suffering from depression:

“The actress is the latest celebrity to discuss depression recently, joining Mandy Moore and Zach Braff.”

Maybe I’m being too negative. Perhaps it’s good to see attention being drawn to depression, but at the same time, it lessens the grave importance of how severe depression can be. It’s one thing to be depressed for a certain period of time, but it’s another thing to suffer from depression. I wish the media would get their terminology right. It diffentiates between Beyoncé and Brooke Shields.

Celebrity sensitivity: Britney’s mental illness

Britney SpearsI originally posed a theory that Britney Spears might be suffering from a mental illness such as postpartum depression (PPD) or bipolar disorder. Furious Seasons linked to an article on tmz.com (by way of Celebrity Baby Blog – wtf?) where “sources say doctors at her rehab facility think the underlying reason for her trouble may be post-partum depression.”

As for my theories:

“Sources tell TMZ that Britney’s doctors have two operating theories — either that she suffers from post-partum depression or bipolar disorder. The doctors strongly believe post-partum is the problem.”

At least I got the plausible diagnoses. Damn, I’m good.

(A nice pic of the former ‘sexy’ days of Ms. Spears.)

UPDATE: The Trouble With Spikol also wrote her own take on it too.

Britney Spears has a mental illness

I haven’t kept up on other news except for Britney Spears. (By way of my husband.) Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced his plan for pulling British troops out of Iraq and I’m more interested in Britney Spears’ life. Where are my priorities?

Anyway, I’m convinced that Britney Spears has a mental illness. She’s suffering from postpartum depression and struggling with her addiction to drugs (recreational mixed with prescription, from what I understand) and alcohol.

Britney Spears (crazy)The image to the left are a recent photo collage (courtesy of x17online.com) of her angry and trying supposedly trying to smash her soon-to-be ex-husband Kevin Federline’s car. They also show more detailed images of her newly shaved head.

She has two kids at home and barely spends any time with them. Could it be that she’s just irresponsible or that she’s suffering from a severe depression, not only after having kids but also going through a stressful divorce at the same time?

Maybe she suffers from bipolar disorder — her actions certainly seem to fit the bill. The happy housewife, then the big party girl. Her erratic stint of checking in and out of rehab. Twice. As of this post, she’s checked into rehab a third time. It must be nice to be a celebrity. Once most people have checked into rehab or a psych hospital , there’s at least a 48-hour wait before they can leave.  She’s checked in and out in one day. At least Keith Urban stayed and finished his treatment — with a brief reprieve during Christmas.

Back to her possible bipolarity (I’ve broken my own grammatical rule), her drinking and late-night partying while she’s got children at home makes no sense to pretty much everybody. The actions of those who suffer from bipolar disorder never make any sense to anyone except the person with the disorder.

Perhaps, Ms. Spears doesn’t realize what she’s doing. This is common with those who have bpd. And for those with mental illness, it doesn’t help that she’s under a media microscope being judged, not only by her peers, but by the entire world. All of us with mental illness — once we’re in our right mind — prefer to keep our suffering quiet. We wouldn’t want anyone to know lest we suffer because of it. My anonymity for this blog is an example of this. I don’t want any potential employers to know who I am lest it prevents me from obtaining a job.

The world thinks Britney Spears is crazy and needs help. Perhaps, they’re right.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

A new Canadian study has found that most workers who struggled with depression had job performances were affected. (Nothing new here, right?)

“On average, the study says, depressed workers reported 32 days in the past year during which symptoms had resulted in ‘their being totally unable to work or carry out normal activities.’”

Seems like people really are taking ‘mental health’ days these days.


Bahrain is having a problem with Indians committing suicide in the country. In January, so far, three Indians have killed themselves. Triggers leading up to the suicides are theorized to be “mental or economic depression, stressful working conditions, low wages and poor housing.”


According to Dr. Brian Doyle, people with ADHD are at a higher risk for mood disorders such as major depressive disorder.

“In a recent study, 38.3% of individuals with a primary diagnosis of ADHD during the previous 12 months also had a mood disorder, compared with 5% of subjects who didn’t have ADHD.   The reverse is also true; individuals who have major depression are likelier to have ADHD than other persons.   In a Massachusetts General Hospital survey, 16% of adults with a primary diagnosis of major depressive disorder had a lifetime history of ADHD.”

Maybe I’m tired right now, but I couldn’t wrap my head around those statistics. Basically, if you’ve got a primary diagnosis of ADHD, you’re likely to have a mood disorder; if you’ve got MDD, you’re likely to also have ADHD; and if you’ve got a primary diagnosis of MDD, you probably have had ADHD for pretty much your whole life. That’s a lot to swallow.

“I am trying to screen more of my depressed patients for ADHD — especially if the patient’s depression is not responding well to treatment. The standard ADHD rating scales are a good place to start.”

I’ve heard it’s hard to screen adults for ADHD; on the flip side, I’ve also been told that it’s more difficult to find ADHD in women than in men. Dr. Doyle’s definitely on the right track here in keeping his eyes open for better ADHD screening. Perhaps I really do have ADHD.


While many celebrities are “outing” themselves on their depressive episodes, Dr. Deborah Serani’s got a list of other well-known people who have either admitted to or speculated to have experienced depression.


I’m late on the bandwagon with this but a study released in December shows that displaced women in Darfur suffer from severe depression. According to an article in Ms. Magazine:

“The International Medical Corps (IMC) posits that women’s multiple roles in society, along with constant stressors like low socioeconomic status, domestic violence, and the threat of rape when venturing outside, may account for the poor mental health of these displaced women. Women’s restricted access to education may also affect their ability to access proper care and make informed decisions about their own physical and mental health.”

And to think those of us in developed countries have problems.

“Almost one-third (31 percent) of women surveyed met the criteria for major depressive disorder while 63 percent reported suffering the emotional symptoms of depression. Five percent reported suicidal thoughts, 2 percent had attempted suicide, and another 2 percent of households had a member commit suicide in the past year. Nearly all of the respondents (98 percent) felt that counseling provided by humanitarian agencies would be the most helpful way of dealing with these feelings.”

It’s good to see that an overwhelming majority of women feel that counseling would help them. Sometimes, people in Western/developed countries take therapy for granted.

“Though depression rates are comparable to, or even lower than, those of other populations displaced by similar conflicts, the rates of suicide and suicidal ideation are ‘alarmingly high in contrast to general rates worldwide,’ according to the report.”

This, unfortunately, makes sense. Suicide is a reaction to ending constant pain. I admire women in Darfur who choose to live despite never-ending pain.  This article puts me to shame somewhat. I am incredibly blessed to have all the amenities of this country and encouragement and love from family and friends. However, I feel pretty stupid when I fall apart over minor things compared to the women in Darfur. It’s an awful cliché, but “I really do have a lot going for me; why am I depressed?”


ViagraFor men: Are you depressed and can’t get an erection? Don’t worry – Viagra can kill two birds with one stone!

A Canadian study (yes, another one) says that Viagra (sildenafil) can help improve mild depression and, of course, aid impotence in men.

“Dr. Sidney Kennedy and his team studied 184 men who had had erection problems for about four years and also met the criteria for minor, but not major, depression.

[After six weeks of treatment], the 98 men who received sildenafil had a 47 per cent reduction in their depression scores, indicating a change from mild to minimal depression. In comparison, men taking placebos had only a 26 per cent decrease in their scores, which remained in the range of mild depression.”

Pfizer’s getting their sales reps started on this one. Expect to see reps carrying Viagra brochures and info to psychiatrists eventually.

Tyra Banks Fights Back

I liked Tyra Banks before because she seemed really down-to-earth, but I absolutely love her now.

Tyra BanksPeople magazine has run a cover of Banks at an awful weight of 162 lb at 5’10”. (sarcasm) She received tabloid names like “America’s Next Top Waddle” and “Tyra Porkchop.” I’m not even Tyra and that hurt me. I’m barely 5’4″ and used to weigh 162. I was on the verge of being “obese” (as opposed to “morbidly obese.”) Yeah. Even my family told me I was fat and needed to lose weight. There was only one issue that drove me nuts:

“It’s when I put on the jeans that used to fit a year ago and don’t fit now and give me the muffin top, that’s when I say, ‘Damn!’ “

The bar is raised because she’s Tyra and a former model. But she’s absolutely cool about it and not in the business of running to change her new weight:

“Still, she isn’t freaking out about wearing size 32-waist jeans or about “the fat roll” she claims to have on her back. (Her biggest source of figure angst is her size-DD breasts, which she says make it hard to find clothes that fit: “I would love for them to be a size and a half smaller.”)

But, she adds, “I’ve made millions of dollars with the body I have, so where’s the pain in that? If I was in pain, I would have dieted. The pain is not there – the pain is someone printing a picture of me and saying those (horrible) things.”

She’s also aware that the tabloids not only hurt her, but also paint a false reality for young girls and teens:

“I get so much mail from young girls who say, ‘I look up to you, you’re not as skinny as everyone else, I think you’re beautiful,’ ” she says. “So when they say that my body is ‘ugly’ and ‘disgusting,’ what does that make those girls feel like?”

My brief struggle with weight — it was only from the beginning of 2004 to the end of 2006 — has taught me a lot about myself and others. I attribute much of my weight gain to Paxil and Lexapro.

Read the rest of this entry »

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Since I was born on Groundhog Day (Google it if you don’t know when it is), I found this story about a groundhog so endearing. (And I make sure to turn around on my birthday to see my shadow.)

Cate BlanchettIf you’re over 50 and on antidepressants, look out – you might be doubling your risk for osteoporosis. Fracture risks seem to be unrelated to falls caused by dizziness and low blood pressure. CLPsych’s analysis is also worth a read. (Many thanks to Bob Thompson for the link.)

People has an article on Cate Blanchett talking about marriage:

“Getting married is insanity; I mean, it’s a risk – who knows if you’re going to be together forever? But you both say, ‘’We’re going to take this chance, in the same spirit.’”

Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrity Sensitivity: Mandy Moore

Oh man, does this need to become a regular feature.

Our newest depressed celebrity: Mandy Moore.

Mandy Moore“‘A few months ago I felt really low, really sad. Depressed for no reason,’ the 22-year-old actress-singer says in an interview in the February issue of Jane magazine, on newsstands Tuesday.  ‘I’m a very positive person, and I’ve always been glass-half-full,’ she continues. ‘So it was like someone flipped a switch in me. I wanted to figure out why.’

Moore, newly single after high-profile relationships with actor Zach Braff and tennis standout Andy Roddick, says her recent split with Braff didn’t help matters.

‘The breakup added to what I was going through, but it’s not the complete reason,” she tells the magazine. ‘It definitely doesn’t help if you’re already in that place…’

But now — Mandy’s cured!

“Moore, who is working on a new record at a studio in Woodstock, N.Y., and feeling better for doing it, says writing songs ‘away from friends in L.A. or New York’ is good for the soul. ‘Writing has been really therapeutic,’ she says of her music. ‘These little nuggets that have come up over the past eight months have made me look at things in a different way.’”

Writing is therapeutic and helps me sort through my feelings, but it’s never totally resolved my depression. Let’s see if Mandy goes through another “depression” in the future.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Yay for the New York Times! Alex Berenson, doggedly keeping up on the Zyprexa story, has written an article about how state prosecutors in Vermont and Illinois are now demanding that Eli Lilly submits documents to them about their marketing practices of Zyprexa. Something I didn’t know:

“Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia have also recently accelerated their own investigation into Lilly’s marketing of Zyprexa.”

My residence in the Philly area has prompted me to follow this closely now. More juicy information:

“In a statement yesterday, Lilly said it would cooperate with the investigations and had done nothing wrong. ‘We intend to cooperate with the Illinois attorney general’s civil investigative demand relating to Zyprexa,’ the company said.

While the investigation being led by Illinois is civil, other investigations into Lilly’s conduct are both civil and criminal. [emphasis mine] Attorneys general in California and Florida may seek to recover Medicaid payments that the states made for Zyprexa. Any fine or cost recovery could be sizable, because Zyprexa has been a commercial success.”

Because investigators need to search through more than 10,000 documents relating to Zyprexa and its marketing and talk to former and current employees about the matter, it could take years for anything to happen. Berenson’s last paragraph at the end brought my excitement to a quick halt:

“As long as drug makers comply with federal requirements to provide data about their products to the Food and Drug Administration, companies have a relatively strong defense against criminal prosecution, according to lawyers who are experts in drug marketing.”

Great. So as long as Lilly complies with the FDA and state and federal prosecutors, they can escape criminal prosecution. Please don’t tell families who have loved ones who died over this medication. Lilly’s settlements are nice and all, but money is never restitution for someone’s death. I’ll soon have a post up about how Pfizer had this issue with Neurontin from 2002-2004. They, too, had to pay more than $430 million to settle lawsuits on civil and criminal charges. Pfizer plead guilty; let’s see if Eli Lilly follow suit (no pun intended).

Andre WatersI’ve been a little late on the bus with this, but I’ve previously written about Andre Waters who killed himself in November. Despite theories of depression surrounding his suicide, a neurologist has claimed that Waters sustained brain damage from playing football which triggered his depression and led to his death. Dr. Bennet Omalu, an expert in forensic pathology, says that Water’s brain tissue “had degenerated into that of an 85-year-old man with similar characteristics as those of early-stage Alzheimer’s victims.” Omalu gets pretty grim though:

“If [Waters] had lived, within 10 or 15 years ‘Andre Waters would have been fully incapacitated.'”

The NFL has no comment.

doggieAs I’ve been trying to tell my husband recently, pets can relieve symptoms of depression. Come on, who can be sad when you’ve got an happy little dog wagging its tail at you with bundles of love? (I’m thinking cute little Yorkies or friendly Golden Retrievers.) Owning a pet can have great mental health benefits:

  • Can reduce anxiety
  • Induce social contact
  • Promote a better quality of life
  • Help kids develop higher self-esteem and lower levels of fear

The only downside: animals can cause stress. But it seems like the stressors can be addressed, i.e. animal training, neutering. (source: The Trouble With Spikol)

Also linked to by Liz Spikol, another interesting mental illness combatant: sports therapy. It seems that it can help those suffering from PTSD, abuse, amnesia, and shyness. Italian doctors, however, a testing to see if soccer can treat illnesses like depression and schizophrenia. This should be interesting.

Oh, and NOTHING to do with mental illness, but I found this NYT article on weight loss and maintaining it quite interesting.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Yeah – the copy editor in me wants to try “Loose Screws News.” For now.

Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry is among many of my favorite blogs to read. In this particular post, he rips on Eli Lilly’s zyprexafacts.com, which was set up in response to NYT articles that alleged Lilly drug reps pushed Zyprexa to physicians for off-label uses. I hope to just have a stupid ol’ time and rip on each Eli Lilly press release in response to each NYT article, but we’ll see what happens. I’ve already got one lined up with notes scribbled on the printout; I just need to transfer it into electronic form. (Oh, the joys of being a transit commuter.)

Liz Spikol linked to an article originally published in bp magazine about how difficult marriages are when one spouse suffers from bipolar disorder. The saddest statistic I’ve ever read:

“In the United States and Canada, at least 40 percent of all marriages fail. But the statistics for marriages involving a person who has bipolar disorder are especially sobering—an estimated 90 percent of these end in divorce, according to a November 2003 article, ‘Managing Bipolar Disorder,’ in Psychology Today.”

Um, joy considering that I’m I suffer from bipolar and have been married for just over a year now. This strikes incredible fear in my heart. It’s not that we don’t love and care for each other, but I can only imagine how much a spouse who doesn’t suffer from bipd can take. I hate to say it, but I keep waiting for my husband to walk out on me. Not because I’m pessimistic (OK, I am, but that’s beside the point), but because I fear that he’ll reach a point where he’ll say, “I can’t take anymore of this! I’ve dealt with this for 10 years and nothing’s changed, nothing’s getting better. I’m sorry, but I can’t be married to you and deal with this anymore.” Just waiting.

Kelly Osborne Retarded celebrity story of the day: Kelly Osborne suffers from depression because she’s so privileged. But hey! — she’ll pose for Playboy and get photoshopped so she can feel better. *gags*

If you’re mentally ill and fired for it, don’t bother suing. It looks like the mentally ill don’t have a case unless there’s a physical illness to somehow “prove” it:

“Sixteen years after Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with psychiatric disabilities are faring worse in court cases against employers for discrimination than are people with physical disabilities, researchers have found in a national study.

‘People with psychiatric disabilities were less likely to receive a monetary award or job-related benefit, more likely to feel as though they were not treated fairly during the legal proceedings and more likely to believe they received less respect in court,’ said Jeffrey Swanson, Ph.D., a study investigator and an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.”

I’m not sure how to solve this problem. Psychiatric disabilities are less tangible and harder to prove than a physical disability. It’s easier to wage war against a company if you suffer from a bad back vs. if you suffer from depression. (Whether or not the bad back is a fictional illness is up to you.)

Another oy moment. (The Long Islander in me is coming back full force.) Got a pet that’s misbehaving? Put him or her on an antidepressant. Double oy.

New Zealand is being introduced to lamotrigine (trade name Lamictal in the U.S.). Good luck, bipolar New Zealanders. Best wishes.

And finally, a study has discovered that about half of patients who suffer from some kind of severe burn suffer from clinical depression. (Shouldn’t someone diagnose this as PTSD? That’s pretty traumatic, if you ask me.) While the finding isn’t surprising, the study highlights the need not only to treat the physical ailment, but also to address the mental healing necessary to overcome stress from the injury.

Celebrity Sensitivity: Zach Braff

Okay, so many celebs are coming out saying that they suffer from depression that this phenomenon needs a regular title.

Zach BraffZach Braff is one of the latest celebs to admit he struggles with depression. He admits, however, that his depression is mild:

“I think I suffer from some mild depression,” he tells Parade magazine in an interview to be published on Sunday. “So to have millions of people go, ‘I watched your movie [Garden State] and related’ was the ultimate affirmation that I’m not a freak.”

I find his depression confession much more believable than, oh say, Angelina Jolie’s. She and I will talk when I’ve heard she’s gone to a therapist…

Jess is depressed; "Free will" examined

WARNING – Inappropriate political commentary: First, James Brown. Now, Gerald Ford. Sometime in the next 30 days, Saddam Hussein. Good grief, when’s Fidel Castro’s turn?

Back to more interesting news…
Jessica SimpsonJessica Simpson is depressed (despite what the article says about her suffering from depression). I know she’s going through a rough time right now (I’d be SUPER depressed with the public humiliation of what happened at the Kennedy Honors — I don’t blame her), but trust me, she’ll get over it. Ms. Simpson has always found a way to bounce back. (source: The Trouble With Spikol)

According to Slashdot (of all places), maybe doctors weren’t so off with lobotomies: new research suggests that new discoveries in neuroscience and psychology are changing the concept of a “free will.” The evidence? A pedophile who was “cured” when his brain tumor was removed — not once, but twice. So maybe we can “cure” all pedophiles by removing their “too-mahs”? The Economist (which Slashdot quotes) happens to go on to explain how neuroscience and psychology are changing the idea of “free will,” however, I think the pedophile is an isolated case.

That’s my update for now — I’ve got to get to work! (Yes, even during this slooow week.)

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Bush Concedes Iraq War More Difficult Than He Expected – No kidding? Well, then, it's "mission accomplished."

Liz Spikol linked to this article in which Angelina Jolie bounced out of depression by "dreaming of playing a sexy comic book character in the upcoming Sin City sequel." – Wow, that's a way to cure the blues… But not "depression."

I have more to post on but I'll do so later in the day after I've done some work. (I'm running low on sleep and not functioning at optimal level.) I've also found a Christian blog that I'd like to post some thoughts on because we see things quite differently when it comes to suicide, but I need to do some serious Biblical research before posting so nothing until after the New Year. (Whoo-hoo! Former journalist doing research again! How fun.)

Today's Mood: 6.5

Loose Screws Mental Health News

More than likely, I’ll be doing short, quick updates today since I have a LOT of work to get to… you know, at work.

I found a new forum that discusses drug-related items, mainly Paxil: http://www.paxilprogress.org/forums/ It uses one of my more favored layout of forum versions, vBulletin. But they have a worthwhile discussion on the whole Eli Lilly/Zyprexa thing going so it’s worth checking out.

Time's 2006 Person of the Year According to the Toronto Sun, Sienna Miller told the UK Mail that she went to a psychiatrist to deal with Jude Law cheating on her — but ended up insulting her when the psych asked a difficult question. Therapy won’t work, dear, if you don’t put any effort into it.

More later on goodies like Christians and depression (what Liz Spikol linked to) and Time‘s Person of the Year. (Okay, Time has NOTHING to with depression but it’s sooo lame it requires a post/rant.)

BTW – I’ll get to everyone’s comments soon. I’m having e-mail issues and once I get them sorted out, I’ll start responding.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

Canada.com reports that a Canadian mental health survey found that more than 75 percent of people diagnosed with clinical anxiety or depression experience a severe relapse during the winter months, namely December and January.

“Among the symptoms those people reported, more than half said they experienced ‘feelings of worthlessness,’ ‘inappropriate guilt’ and difficulty thinking or concentrating during the winter holiday season.”

The survey also found that decreased daylight hours and increased debt during the holiday season contribute to stress among those with chronic mental illness. At least the article didn’t say there was a spike in suicides…

Lorraine BraccoLorraine Bracco, known as Dr. Melfi on The Sopranos, has written a book about her struggle with clinical depression. She notes the difference between how she functioned before her depression hit and after. She cites Zoloft as the antidepressant that helped her overcome the hump and a mental realization that she needed to get help. She no longer uses antidepressants but she feels that the antidepressant got her to a place where she could find herself again, “I found my joie de vivre, my spirit, my voice.”

And finally, it’s time to be pissed off at Eli Lilly. Documents obtained by a mental health lawyer, given to The New York Times, show that Lilly execs tried to downplay the risk of obesity and hyperglycemia in Zyprexa. The two side effects can lead to a significantly increased risk for diabetes. Lilly material even included statements to sales reps telling them to downplay those risks when pitching the atypical antipsychotic to doctors. Zyprexa, Lilly’s best-selling drug, has been sold to 2 million people and has raked in $4.2 billion worldwide. The drug is primarily prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Of course, Lilly execs, aware that the side effects would keep patients away from the drug, downplayed the risks and even went so far as to say, “There is no scientific evidence establishing that Zyprexa causes diabetes.”

Lawsuits speaks differently, however. Lilly has agreed to pay $750 million to 8,000 people who claim that Zyprexa has caused them to develop diabetes or other medical problems. According to the Times, “thousands more suits against the company are pending.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrity Sensitivity: Beyoncé Knowles

BeyoncéBeyonce has recently spoken out about her past “depression.” It was back in 2000, when two of her bandmates quit Destiny’s Child, sued her father for mismanagement, and to top it off, her boyfriend of 4-5 years broke up with her.

It annoys me when people go through a rough period and the media call it a “depression.” It is possible for someone to be down and discouraged during a rough period but to be depressed is clinical – it is ongoing for life. Beyonce was not depressed; she was going through a rough patch in her life that eventually smoothed out. She never needed psychiatric treatment, counseling or medication. She was fine then and she’s fine now.

I hate how the media is turning mental illness into the latest fashionable fallibility of celebrities.

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