Cutting – An Actual Mental Disorder

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

A lot of people are shocked and horrified at the thought of self-mutilation and for many years “cutting” was categorized only as a symptom of Borderline Personality DisorderBPD, as you may know, has symptoms of unstable personal relationships, impulsivity, and extreme mood changes (different from Bipolar disorder as they can change on a dime and swing wildly).

The new issue of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition or DSM-5, includes it as a separate diagnosis of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI).  Research has suggested that NSSI can occur independently of BPD but is also often a co-existing or co-morbid illness, occurring alongside BPD, Bipolar Disorder, one of the many anxiety disorders or with other disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

Cutting DisorderI am the mother of pre-adolescent children – who are beginning to believe they know all about people who act “weird” or do “weird” things (their words, not mine).  My daughter has recently talked about the “EMO” kids – which as a dumb mom, I had to figure out was a social group of kids who were “emotionally dark.”  She includes in her description of an “EMO” as “you know, like kids who are cutters.”  It is stereotypical to think that they all wear black clothing and heavy eyeliner – as some may – but many do not.

Some people who have the disorder would never be suspected of such – but then we are also sometimes surprised when someone who seems to have everything commits suicide, only to find that under the polished exterior was extreme anguish.  Often, cutting will be dismissed as a “stage” and it may be a “stage” – but often it is not.  Many patients – have arms or hips full of patterned scars – proving that it is often a condition all to itself.

Cutting Disorder - Mental IllnessSelf-mutilation most often starts in the early teen years when adolescent emotions are at their height – but often extends well into adulthood.  The majority of “cutters” are female – but not all.  There is often a co-existing mental illness and may have a family history component – but also often occurs following events of abuse – including sexual, physical or emotional abuse.  Sudden life changes such as unemployment or divorce – and isolation may trigger an occurrence.

People who “cut” often express a desire to “feel” as if they cannot truly attach to their own emotions.  Others will say they “cut” to kill the pain – this is because the act of producing pain also causes the body to release endorphins (the body’s natural painkiller) that makes them feel better.  Unfortunately, even though the action may induce temporary euphoria – it is often followed by guilt and a return of the negative feelings.

NSSI is defined as:

• 5 or more days of intentional self-inflicted damage to the surface of the body without suicidal intent – in the past year.
Patients must be intending to:
o Seek relief from negative feelings or thoughts and/or
o Resolve interpersonal problems and/or
o Induce a positive emotional state
• The behavior must be associated with 1 of:
o Interpersonal problems
o Negative thoughts or feelings
o Premeditation
o Ruminating on injury (obsession)

NSSI includes not only “cutting” but also burning, hitting or punching, head banging, biting, non-aesthetic piercing or carving of skin (tattoos and body piercing don’t apply), pulling out hair or other “topical” mutilation.  If a patient has expressed suicidal thoughts or shows suicidal tendencies – it is not classified as NSSI as the intent of a person with NSSI is not to commit suicide.
NSSI should be first viewed as a serious medical condition that truly requires treatment.  It may be resolved by treating an existing co-morbid psychiatric condition – but likely it will also require psychotherapy to resolve some of the underlying issues.

Definition of Self-injury/cutting (Mayo Clinic)

Cutting and Self-Harm: Warning Signs and Treatment (WebMD)

If you see signs of NSSI or “cutting” in a child, teen, or adult that you know – encourage them to seek help.

Melissa Lind (WriterMelle)

An Actual Mental Disorder – Cutting

Seniors and Depression

Elderly people are often hiding their depression

Just as teenage depression has received more recognition and validation over the last decade, depression in senior citizens has also gained more attention. Teenagers are facing loads of issues — and seniors are as well, even though the effects are quite different.

Depression in ElderlySenior citizens have many worries. They are facing getting older and less capable of caring for themselves. They may be worried about outliving the funds they have set aside for their retirement. They may be facing significant changes, such as moving from their home to a retirement community or nursing home. They are also finding themselves surviving their friends.

One of the major concerns about depression in seniors is that the symptoms are not nearly as easy to identify as they would be in a child or a middle-aged adult. Senior citizens rarely tell people that they are depressed, and may not even recognize it as such. Even when the signs are noticed, they are often mistaken for other medical problems associated with age.

If a senior citizen stops taking part in active activities, this is a red flag. For instance, if an elderly lady has been going to get her hair done every week, for the last 30 years or so, and suddenly stops, you cannot assume that she just got old and stopped worrying about what her hair looked like. The culprit is probably depression. Think about the things that the elderly person had done before, and what they have recently stopped doing.

What you must remember is that today’s seniors may still consider depression to be a bad thing that one must hide from others. When they were children and then later, raising their families, if someone suffered from a mental condition — including depression — that person was thought to be either “crazy” or “incompetent.”

Naturally, since they were raised and lived in this mindset, they will try to hide their depressed feelings if and when they occur.

Senior seldom tells about their depression.

Anxiety Often Interferes With Life

Anxiety can be as if one is suffering from a physical disability

Everyone deals with stress in their lives. Everyone also feels anxious from time to time, and this is perfectly normal. But the fear can become abnormal, and if this happens, it will start interfering in your life. Something like that can significantly reduce your quality of life, just as if you were suffering from a physical disability. In fact, anxiety can become a type of physical disability.

Anxious and Depressed GirlAnxiety will prevent you from doing things that you want to do. People who are socially anxious can see that anxiousness progress to the point where they do not want to leave their homes. They will start avoiding crowded places, or places or events where they might be required to socialize with other people. They may even start fearing the telephone.

Obviously, all of these things combined serve to lessen the quality of that person’s life — keeping them from socializing with old friends, failing to meet new friends, and failing to participate in particular experiences.

Anxiousness will also prevent you from fully enjoying vital aspects of your life, such as your children or grandchildren, hobbies, or your career. Those who suffer from an anxiety disorder can fill their minds with such enormous amounts of worry that there is little room to enjoy the things that are useful in their lives. They simply cannot stop worrying.

Stress can lead to physical and mental problems. Anxiousness in ChildrenDepression is a common result of anxiety, as are constant tension headaches. These other mental and physical conditions also play a role in lowering one’s quality of life.

People who often are anxious do not sleep well. When we’ve had enough sleep, we see the world around us in a more positive light. With the lack of sleep, however, things often appear to be “gloomier” than they really are.

Despite the fact that things aren’t as gloomy as we might think, the quality of life is lessened even more because our perception of what is going on around us is all that we really have to go by in life.

Anxiety does have an enormous impact on one’s overall life, and, therefore, if you are suffering from anxiety, you should seek treatment as soon as possible, so that your life — and your perception of your life — can get back on the right track.

Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand!

Anxiety Support Organizations

Need of anxiety support – There is help to get!

Viking Suffer From Anxiety DisorderIf you suffer from anxiety, you should know that you are not alone. You should also know that there is support available. Obviously, you need to discuss your anxiety with your health care professional and be treated for it, but whether you realize it or not, there are other mental health support sources out there as well.

The Anxiety Disorders Association of America is one such support organization. It was founded in 1980. The purpose of the ADAA is to offer support to patients, health care professionals, and anyone else who is affected by an anxiety disorder. The ADAA has a directory of self-help groups that you will find in your local area.

The Council on Anxiety Disorders is another good organization. It was founded in 1988, and regular meetings are held in Georgia. Here, you will also be able to obtain a listing of local support groups, and you will also receive materials that will aid in helping you to deal with your anxiety, or that of a loved one.

The National Anxiety Foundation is another excellent resource. Through this organization, you will be able to find doctors who treat anxiety, support groups, and anxiety-related information.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will also be able to help. This organization covers all mental health issues, including anxiety. They will be able to direct you to professional help, group help, provide information, and point you to other needed resources.

Because we live in an information society, where the average person can lay their hands on just about any type of information that they want, patients must start taking a more active role in their own health care and treatment. These organizations will essentially help you to help yourself.

Again, you do need the help of a doctor, but you can also find additional help through the many mental health support organizations that exist as well.

Anxiety Support Organizations can help you get self-help!

Afraid and Anxious to Loose

Afraid and Anxious

The video below illustrates that negative things in life may change, be modified from bad to better – even if you feel scared, worried and sometimes depressed.

This is a dog agility video, but with the words used in the text, one can easily relate it to human thoughts and feelings.
The text is about a dog’s thoughts on his owner.
Dogs can be afraid of their owners, afraid of not being good enough in their owners’ eyes, and fear of punishment. Or, they might be afraid of other people and other things. The anxiety spreads!

Similar things happen in the human world. One may be nervous and scared, with subsequent depression, and that one can gradually overcome the fear and depressions subside.

Anxious - No MoreOne can have a better life if one does not give up, but believe that things can change for the better!

I consider that a video like this is suitable for our website, which is about mental health! This is a video to reflect upon. It tells us that negativity can be changed to positivity. The human mind and how the animal brain functions are not THAT different.
We do need reminders that fear and anxiety don`t necessarily need to end up with long-term depression.

Watch this video and let your heart be touched – like mine was!
(In addition, the video gives us insight into the great sports dog agility – a sport for both dogs and humans give pleasure – pleasure for the operator of the sport and those watching)

Now I have this never losing, never giving up attitude.

Big thanks to Henriette Monsen, who made this lovely video, and allowed me to publish it on my mental health website!

Anxious and Afraid to Loose

Robin Williams – Another Life Lost Through Mental Illness

Another Life Lost Through Mental Illness

I recently wrote about “Celebrities and Bipolar Disorder,” many of whom are also drug addicts, alcoholics and suicide victims – but the recent death of Robin Williams has brought the issue of other mental health disorders including depression – and suicide to the front of my mind once again.

Of course, you know that Robin Williams died of “asphyxiation” – notable suicide by hanging. At first we were shocked, then sad as a great talent was lost. In a few days, many people will become angry at him. Many people don’t understand depression; some don’t even believe it exists.

Robin Williams - Depression KillsRobin – and I call him that purposefully rather than the more proper journalistic reference “Mr. Williams” or simply “Williams” – has made an impact on my life and that of my children. Like many people, I felt like I knew him. I haven’t seen all of the 80 movies he was in, but my personal favorites were the movies that were not comedies. He was a gifted actor and a tremendously funny man.

I said I “felt” like I knew him – but I didn’t. My children “feel” like they knew him – but they didn’t. I don’t know much about his childhood – other than that he was raised in a family where, though there was probably plenty of money, he spent most of his time with nannies or alone. He obviously had a brain that never quit – which leads me to believe he may have had ADHD, he certainly had troubles with substance abuse and he had periods of severe depression, one of which led to his death.

People are already questioning why such a talented man – who had given so much – would “go and do something like that.” Many of those people will feel like he was selfish – as many people feel like suicide is the ultimate in narcissism. Under all that hilarity, under all that spectacle, under all that talent, was a seriously sad man.

Never mind what we don’t know about his childhood, over the course of his life he had great success and tremendous loss, with the making of fortune and fame and the loss of loved ones and money. He ultimately chose to end the pain himself.

Metally Ill - Robin WilliamsDepression is not something that can be shared and Robin was a “smiler.” Even in my life, though I am not a “smiler” – when I am having great difficulty, I do not contact the people who matter. I do not call my friends; I do not call my family; I sit in my difficulties alone.

Like many comedians, Robin learned to be funny to cover pain and to cover loneliness – and to get attention that he craved. Mental illness is difficult to understand and even though we mourn his loss – we should reflect on who in our lives might be feeling the same pain.

Maybe – likely not, but maybe, if he had the kind of support he needed, if he had not felt like he always needed to be “on” he would not have felt the despair so strongly. Maybe if mental illness and substance abuse weren’t still stigmatized, maybe he could have gotten the help he needed.

Maybe, but maybe not.

Another famous actor – once said in a famous movie – “Momma says that dyin’ is a part of livin’… I wish that it wasn’t.” Unfortunately, some people feel they must choose to die early. Robin did.

Melissa Lind

Another famous actor died because of mental illness