Disrupted Circadian Rhythms Could Hurt Your Mental Health

Author: Beth Tucker Long
July 17th, 2018

A new study published in The Lancet found an association between disrupted circadian rhythms and mental health issues like major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. The study looked at 91,000 people and whether they had a standard circadian rhythm (active in the day, resting at night) or a disrupted one (resting in the day, active at night). Those with a disrupted circadian rhythm were 6 to 10 percent more likely to have a mental health issue diagnosis. "The study tells us the body clock is really important for mood disorders and should be given greater priority in research and in [the] way we organize societies," Daniel Smith, co-author of the study and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow, told the BBC. You can read more about the study on BBC News or view the published study on The Lancet.

The Doorway to Better Stuff

Author: Beth Tucker Long
July 12th, 2018

Clark Gregg easily shines on the screen as Agent Phil Coulson in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but off screen, relaxing did not come as easily. “During the really stressful periods of work — whether it was a movie with big action, or an emotional scene where you have to deliver, or the nine-month, 22-episode relentlessness of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — I was really okay. But when I would try to relax, I found that I would go into a different space that didn’t feel right. I felt anxious, but kind of disassociated, and I didn’t understand what was going on”, Gregg recalls.

After seeing a variety of Eastern and Western doctors, Gregg had no answers, but was still struggling to relax. After suffering for 5 years, Gregg spent some time investigating his symptoms online and discovered a book that changed his outlook on his symptoms and gave him a way to positively address them. Barry McDonagh’s book, Dare, introduced Gregg to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which centers around developing personal coping strategies to change unhelpful patterns around the anxiety rather than stopping the anxiety.

“Cognitive behavioral therapy was a game-changer for me, and remains a game-changer. I find it calming to know that wherever I am, I don’t have to wonder if I have a pill nearby; I just know I can do these exercises, and it's going to become manageable”, Gregg says. “CBT is really a miracle. I've seen it help a lot of people, and one of the reasons I’m speaking out is that I don’t feel like enough people know it.“

Gregg is working on becoming more open about his mental health strategies and hopes to help others learn about CBT. “…mental health issues don’t always feel good. But they don't have to ruin your life, either — they can really be the doorway to better stuff.” Read Jordyn Taylor’s interview with Clark Gregg on Men’s Health.

Pay Attention to Side Effects of Medication

Author: Joe Ferguson
July 10th, 2018

Medication is always a hot topic in the world of mental health. I take medications every day to manage my depression and anxiety, and while they're working for me, it doesn't mean medication is a silver bullet solution. Many people take medications which increase their risk for depression. A recent NPR article mentions one in three adults in the US take medication linked to depression. The article specifically mentions “...Prilosec or Zantac for acid reflux, a beta blocker for high blood pressure, or Xanax for anxiety, you may be increasing your risk of depression..." While you may not be taking medication for depression, you may be taking something that lists depression as a side effect. If you are taking medication, check the side effects and make sure you are staying on top of your mental health. Consult your doctor if you notice any signs of depression.

The article also goes on to describe the original investigation and the key points:

Question:  How frequently do US adults use prescription medications with depression as a potential adverse effect and is use of these medications associated with concurrent depression?

Findings:  In this cross-sectional US population-based survey study conducted between 2005 and 2014, the estimated overall prevalence of US adults using medications with depression as a potential adverse effect was 37.2%. The adjusted percentage of adults with concurrent depression was higher among those using more concurrent medications (e.g., estimated 15% for ≥3 medications).

Meaning:  Use of prescription medications with depression as a potential adverse effect was common and associated with a greater likelihood of concurrent depression.

Always consult your doctor about side effects and remember you can talk to your pharmacist at your local pharmacy. I've had several conversations with mine to discuss side effects and warning signs. Don't forget to include your doctor in these conversations as well.

You Are Not Alone

Author: Beth Tucker Long
June 28th, 2018

If you suffer from depression, you are not alone, and we have the data to back that up. According to new data released by Blue Cross Blue Shield, depression diagnoses among their 41 million customers is on the rise. Major depression has risen to a diagnosis rate of 4.4% in the United States, which is more than 9 million people. Comparing data from 2013 to data from 2016, Blue Cross Blue Shield has seen an increase in depression diagnoses in every age category. The largest jump was in ages 12 to 17 with a 63% increase followed by ages 18 to 35 with a 47% increase.

It’s important to note the data only contains information from people insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield, so while it is a large data set, it is not necessarily representative of the population at large. Additionally, the increases could be due to more people coming forward with their symptoms rather than an increase in depression.

You can learn more about the findings from Women’s Health, or you can view the survey data directly on the Blue Cross Blue Shield website

The Power of Saying Things Out Loud

Author: Beth Tucker Long
June 26th, 2018

Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers never considered his mental health important until one day, he had a panic attack mid-game.

“I was running from room to room, like I was looking for something I couldn’t find. Really I was just hoping my heart would stop racing. It was like my body was trying to say to me, You’re about to die. I ended up on the floor in the training room, lying on my back, trying to get enough air to breathe,” he recalls of the game.

Afterward, he started going back to his old ways of burying his mental health and ignoring it, but then questioned: “Why was I so concerned with people finding out?” He took this new found feeling and decided to meet with a therapist.

Love realized, “… it’s kind of strange when you think about it. In the NBA, you have trained professionals to fine-tune your life in so many areas. Coaches, trainers and nutritionists have had a presence in my life for years. But none of those people could help me in the way I needed when I was lying on the floor struggling to breathe.”

The therapist helped Love talk through his issues off the court that were affecting his ability to perform on the court. Digging down into the layers, Love realized how much he had been burying and even how much pain and anxiety he had been harboring from his grandmother’s death.

Love now meetings with his therapist whenever he is in town, saying “…it’s not some magical process. It’s terrifying and awkward and hard, at least in my experience so far. I know you don’t just get rid of problems by talking about them, but I’ve learned that over time maybe you can better understand them and make them more manageable.”

Love has noticed other players, like DeMar DeRozan opening up about mental health and hopes to do the same, saying “..creating a better environment for talking about mental health … that’s where we need to get to.”

Read more of his story in his own words on The Players’ Tribune.

Mental Health Tattoos

Author: Joe Ferguson
June 21st, 2018

May was Mental Health month, and MensHealth.com posted the gallery 8 Guys Share the Powerful Stories Behind Their Mental Health Tattoos. After SunshinePHP 2017 I came home with the idea to finally get a semicolon tattoo. The semicolon project hits pretty close to home for me. I love the idea of stopping to pause and reflect. At SunshinePHP that year, I saw three or four different people with semicolon tattoos---it pushed me over the edge. I got my semicolon done and loved it.

semi-colon tattoo

The next thing I wanted to do was pay homage to the OSMI round logo. I’ve always loved our logo and I felt like that was the next tattoo for me. Right before php[tek] 2018, I got the badge logo done.

OSMI logo tattoo

The next step is to continue the mental health sleeve I started. There’s no telling how big I’ll go, but it’s a nice start; maybe I’ll add some color next.

While the semicolon will remind me to relax and breathe, the hands together remind me we’re all stronger than the fear that keeps us from talking about mental health openly and honestly. Since OSMI has been such a big part of my life the past year, it felt right to place it next to the semicolon.

Do you have a mental health related tattoo? Share it with us on twitter or facebook. We’d love to see it and hear your story!

Support OSMI While Improving Your Language

Author: Beth Tucker Long
June 19th, 2018

Looking for a fun way to support OSMI while improving inclusivity? The Ableist Jar is similar to a swear jar, where you drop a dollar into the jar each time you use a restricted word or phrase, and while the premise is based around donating money each time you use ableist language, the actual goal of this site is to raise awareness of ableist language. With The Ableist Jar, you can self-monitor if you prefer or get a group of friends or colleagues together and help hold each other accountable. It’s not always easy to notice when you use ableist language, so it can help to have others paying attention and helping you recognize when it occurs. The Ableist Jar was created by Nicolas Steenhout after — in his words — “a throwaway tweet” gained momentum. While this idea did not start out serious, the fruition of this project could make a serious difference in the lives and language of many, and all while benefiting OSMI’s work to educate and raise awareness about mental health. Visit The Ableist Jar to learn more about ableist language and what you can do to make your language more inclusive.

Why Men Don’t Talk About Depression

Author: Joe Ferguson
June 14th, 2018

In a recent Menshealth.com article three men talk about their mental health issues while also touching on topics such as why men feel they aren’t supposed to talk about their mental health so they don’t seem “weak.”

“It feels heavy,” he says. “It literally makes my muscles and body feel weighted. I feel sluggish and low energy.

This quote from the article resonated with me because when I’m about to fall into a bout of depression, this is how I feel. I’ve come to notice the trigger and can often pull myself out of it, but not always. It’s an important realization for me to notice these types of triggers so I can actively avoid them as much as possible. My typical solution is to go out and visit a user group, go to lunch with friends, or go to a casual event to hang out. This gets me out of the house and exposed to the sunlight and other humans.

The two most important parts of the article:

Go to your doctor.

See a professional, get help. If a doctor makes you feel shameful for seeking help, find another doctor.

Find someone you can talk to

This doesn’t have to be a doctor or therapist. You have to make that decision for yourself. What works for me at the moment is talking to my best friend who doesn’t suffer from issues but wants to understand what I’m going through. The other person I can talk to is my wonderful wife. She puts up with me, so she is going to be the first to notice issues even when I don’t right away.

Find your people.

Read the full article

‘Depression Doesn't Discriminate’ - Dwayne Johnson Shares How Depression Has Affected Him

Author: Beth Tucker Long
June 12th, 2018

Depression has always affected the life of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Aside from his own battle, Johnson has also been affected by family members with depression. He was only 15 when he saved his mother from an attempted suicide on a highway. After sharing this story on Instagram earlier this year, Johnson has done a number of interviews where he opened up more about his struggles with depression.

"Regardless of who you are or what you do for a living or where you come from, it doesn't discriminate, we all kind of go through it. If I could share a little bit of it and if I could help somebody, I'm happy to do it." -- Dwayne Johnson

Johnson often turns to exercise when his depression hits, saying, “For me, the going to do something, it sounds boring and cliche, but it is what it is with me, I gotta hit the gym." Studies have shown being active can decrease a person's risk of depression by 19 percent, but recognizing depression is an important first step. “Took me a long time to realize it but the key is to not be afraid to open up. Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone,” Johnson tweeted earlier this year.

Read more about Dwayne Johnson opening up about mental health in “The Rock on Depression: 'You've Got to Talk About It, and You're Not Alone'” in Men’s Health.

Pokémon Go: A New Kind of Therapy

Author: Beth Tucker Long
June 6th, 2018

Since Pokémon Go released in mid-2016, the game has exploded in popularity with reportedly more than 750 million downloads and an estimated user base of 30 to 45 million worldwide. Some may have expected the popularity based on the success of previous Pokémon games, but what was unexpected was the mental health benefits. People playing Pokémon Go have reported spending increased time with friends, making new friends, and increasing their physical activity levels.

Michael Van Ameringen, MD of McMaster noticed difficult to treat patients with severe social anxiety disorder and a lot of depression started to go out of their homes when they began playing Pokémon Go. “This led me to wondering if this game had the ability to be used as a mental health treatment, even though it wasn’t intended to do this," Van Ameringen said.

Others in the field agree. Kara Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, noted in 2016: "I see Pokémon Go being useful with my socially anxious and agoraphobic patients in two ways. It really gives them a set of tools and reasons to meet people. It is a naturally structured experiment where it draws people in to connect and is partially reinforcing, which is the best mechanism for rewarding behavior."

While long-term study is still needed, initial studies, like the one that Van Ameringen and colleagues presented at the 2018 American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in New York City, show positive improvements. Combining video games and mental health therapy will be an exciting area of study in the coming years.

Visit MD Magazine’s site to learn more about Van Ameringen’s study.