Here at The Frisky’s offices, one of the most hotly anticipated books of 2011 is Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom, by the comedienne and all-around-awesome-lady Sara Benincasa. I love this girl for her balls-out honesty regarding her mental health struggles with agoraphobia and anxiety. Agorafabulous! is based on Sara’s one-woman show of the same name, which recounts how vicious panic attacks created a fear of the outside world, to the point where she refused to leave her college dorm room. In this cartoon, Sara explains all about anxiety attacks, the “flight or fight” response, and why you shouldn’t shop at Whole Foods. As someone who has suffered from panic attacks from age 15 onwards, I could have used an explanation like this back when I was hyperventilating and didn’t know what the eff was going on!
Having an abortion does not increase a woman’s chance of developing mental health problems, a British health agency has found. The U.K.’s National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health compared a number of studies conducted worldwide in the past 20 years and found that in cases of unwanted pregnancy, women who chose abortion were no more likely to develop disorders like depression and anxiety than those who gave birth. Research does point to an increase in mental disorders in women with unwanted pregnancies in general, with approximately one in three women with unwanted pregnancies diagnosed with such disorders. These statistics did not rise, however, in the cases in which women underwent abortion. Keep reading »
According to Medco Health Solutions Inc., more than 25 percent of women took at least one drug to treat psychiatric conditions in 2010, most prominently for depression and anxiety. The use of drugs to treat psychiatric and behavioral disorders has risen by 22 percent since 2001, and today roughly 20 percent of all Americans hold such prescriptions. In the 20-44 age bracket, the use of ADHD antipsychotic drugs and treatments has more than tripled, and the use of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax and Valium has risen by 30 percent. The most common users of antipsychotic drugs today are women aged 45 or older.
The statistics go on and on, though they share a common trend: a dramatic increase in consumption in all age and sex brackets. Are we becoming crazier, are diagonses becoming more succinct, or are drugs simply becoming more accessible? Keep reading »
Writing about eating disorders feels like an exercise in vulnerability, not because I am ashamed to share my story, but due to the extremely emotional nature of the topic for countless women. In an era of Kate Moss, skinny jeans, and “she’s too skinny!” tabloid fodder, eating disorders run rampant like a cultural epidemic, continuing to fester alongside a never-ending preoccupation with body image. Although the majority of the media narrows the scope of the issue to models and celebrities, eating disorders are actually most prevalent amongst us everyday girls. Simultaneously, the reality of EDs extends beyond the teenage anecdotes of starving ourselves to be popular; these serious diseases have lifetime physical and psychological ramifications and are far more multifarious than extreme dieting. Weight is a sensitive subject to say the least, one I am going to handle diplomatically. The objective of sharing my story is not to be controversial, blame Hollywood, or spark debate on how to confront eating disorders, but to reflect on the complexities of a ghost that has haunted me and so many others for over a decade.
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“People are embarrassed to talk about [depression]. I would never put anyone down [who] was in that kind of space … I think most human beings go through some sort of depression in their life … And if they don’t, I think that’s weird.”
– Kirsten Dunst opens up about her depressive episode in Flare Magazine. And I have to agree with her. Who hasn’t been depressed at some point? I want to meet those people. I think there are different degrees to which people suffer. For some, it’s a mild sadness in stressful times, for others it is lifelong and debilitating. I remember when I sought professional treatment for depression, my therapist told me, “A person who has never been depressed is a person in denial. Your depression is a sign that you are processing some of the sadness you feel.” Thinking about it that way made it feel like less of a stigma. [People]
It didn’t take long for me to figure out something about Nick* was different. Everything about him was outsized, super-charming and a bit impulsive. For our second date, he seriously considered whisking me away to Atlantic City for the weekend to go gambling. After only two weeks of dating, he told me he thought I was “the one.” He chatted a mile a minute, exhausting one topic and moving right on to the next without missing a beat. On our earliest dates, I literally felt as though I was his audience — though I didn’t exactly mind, because he was charismatic and bright and his life story fascinated me. I’m not the life of the party at all, so to be with someone who is the life of the party was extremely fun. When he finally told me after several dates that he had bipolar disorder and ADD, I nearly smacked myself in the forehead. Of course he does! I realized. He’s textbook!
My older brother Eliot* also has bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression). Eliot’s behavior when he has not been taking his medication is almost exactly like Nick’s. He’s just as impulsive, if not more so; a few Christmases ago, he tried to persuade me to ditch our family and drive to Foxwoods to go gambling. Eliot is also very charming, charismatic, bright and the dictionary definition of “the life of the party.” Our personalities are so different that our friends can hardly believe he and I are related.
So when Nick mentioned that he is not taking medication for his bipolar and ADD, I nearly smacked myself in the forehead a second time. Of course, of course, I thought. And then: F**k. Keep reading »