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Mental Health AwarenessMental Health awareness is growing every decade. The stigma surrounding mental health issues has been lessening but still has a long way to go. Campaigns such as Bell Canada’s Let’s talk really help in raising awareness. Continue reading

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The Business of Mental IllnessMental illness has become big business. Right now, 20% of Americans are on some kind of mental health medication. Continue reading

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Mindfully moving past depression

I’ve written blogs about depression. For example:

The Deep Dark Hole of Depression

Finding Meaning in Life When You’re Feeling Depressed

Moving Past Sadness or Depression I

I’ve also written about mindfulness: Continue reading

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sad man

Years ago I read a fascinating book by Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist and World War II survivor of the Holocaust entitled, Man’s Search for Meaning. It was an incredibly moving autobiography of his experiences as a prisoner of war and his well-considered thoughts on the meaning of life. Continue reading

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DSM books

Diagnosing someone with a mental disorder such as anxiety or depression requires ensuring the person meets a certain number of criteria of a particular disorder. The disorders and their criteria are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-4th edition, text revised (the DSM-IV-TR). There is growing concern that more and more disorders are being “discovered” and are shrinking what is considered normal.

The sickening of our society

The first DSM manual was published in 1952, was 132 pages and listed 128 disorders. The current DSM-IV-TR is 886 pages and lists 357 disorders. Are we getting sicker or are normal problems in living becoming pathologized? When did shyness become a sickness? Isn’t it normal that we grieve when someone we love dies? Do we have to get over it by a prescribed period of time to prevent being labelled with major depressive disorder? When did eccentricity become a problem requiring medication?

What’s considered normal is shrinking

A vocal critic of the new draft of the DSM is Dr. Allen Frances. He was chairman of the taskforce for the current edition of the DSM and participated in the previous two versions. His concerns include “the shrinking domain of the normal” and the possibility that innocent bystanders could become pathologized, labeled as having a mental disorder and given unnecessary drugs and other treatments.

Unfortunately, increasing numbers of people are being diagnosed with a mental disorder. In 1955, 1 out of 468 Americans were hosptalized because of a mental illness. By 1987, 1 out of 184 were disabled enough to require long term disability.(Source: Anatomy of an Epidemic)

Children are being diagnosed and medicated at alarming rates. The number of mentally ill children in the U.S. grew exponentially between 1996 and 2007 while the number of kids with cancer and other life threatening illnesses declined. Are we all going crazy or is something else happening? (Source: Anatomy of an Epidemic)

What’s the problem?

All of us experience troubles in living at various times in our lives. But it seems that life’s troubles are being usurped by well intentioned professionals and transformed into diagnosable disorders.

Obviously, there are times when a diagnosis is warranted and even helpful. But sometimes problems can occur when drugs are considered the only solution and a quest is begun to find the right drug that’s going to work. Unfortunately, drugs have side affects, are more or less effective for an individual, and seem to lose their effectiveness after a period of time. Some may end up with a cocktail of drugs of increasing potency that contribute to decreased functioning in everyday life.

As a psychologist, I’ve unfortunately worked with people who have been encouraged to believe their “disorder” is life long and medication is the only treatment that is going to be effective in “managing and controlling symptoms.” What does this do to the person’s sense of personal control and responsibility? At what point does the diagnosis become the person and take over a person’s life completely?

As a solution-focused therapist, I can work with you to help you move past troubles, to discover what works for you, and to help you live the life you want. I provide counselling in person, online, or by phone.


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Depressed person

Serotonin and your gut

I was having a conversation with a psychiatrist, Dr. Bud Rickhi, the other day. He told me serotonin is produced in your gut (95% of it anyways) and is transported to your brain via your blood vessels. Continue reading

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upset person

For a couple of weeks I’ve been talking about sadness and depression. I.e. how you know if you’re sad or depressed, and imagining what your life will be like when sadness or depression are no longer a part of it. As you read last week’s post, you may have asked yourself, is this woman off her rocker? What’s the point of dreaming of a good life? This week, I’m going to tell you why, and I’m going to ask you to think about times when you may have been feeling really good and invite you to begin–or continue–to build a foundation that will get you where you want to go. Continue reading

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Last week in my blog, I talked about how you know if you’re depressed. Whether you’re clinically depressed or feeling really sad, I know it’s not where you or someone you know wants to be. This week I’m going to help you create an image of the way you would like your life to be when sadness or depression have packed their bags and gone away. Continue reading

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Depressed womanHelping professionals look at a number of factors when assessing depression. We may ask you questions about your sleep, your appetite, your energy, your ability to think, your mood, and thoughts of dying. Continue reading

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