Mental Illness

I think I have mentioned this sometimes in my posts. I used to want to be a psychiatrist… long before I got disappointed.

Psychiatry is a medical field that tries to be as structured and efficient as other medical fields, but fails in the attempt. We don’t know as much about the mind as we know about other body parts, but we treat the mind as thought as it were just another body part. Criteria for diagnosis are too structured and try to reduce the complexity of the mind to some simple items that supposedly define a disease. The only advance is that somehow, treatments have been discovered and applied with some degree of success.

Sadly, like I read in one cool book one time, mental illness is much easier to treat than it is to understand.

AND, since I seem to be swimming in the soup of mentally diseased people, I also get to have my own structured list of items that supposedly explain my whole behaviour and thoughts. I have let my insane mind wander here in my blog, but I haven’t really talked about what I supposedly have, like from a medical point of view. I have gone through different psychiatrists and various sets of treatments that haven’t been sucessful, which make me go into long periods of time when I’m not taking anything and I think I don’t have any medical shit and I’m just “broken”.

Well, 4 years ago, one of my psychiatrists diagnosed me with something called “Atypical Depression“. And despite me switching medication and doctors, the diagnosis hasn’t changed.

I guess I’m sticking with the diagnosis this time because, even if it fails to explain the big annoying complexitity of what goes in my head, it gets a bit close to it, and for treatment purposes, it can be useful. I don’t know if I’m contradicting myself with what I said before. I mean, who invented those diagnosis?, and who wrote the criteria that says you have one thing and not the other?, and how can they prove it’s really what is happening? There’s really no good way to know.

For example, Atypical depression (aka “My Illness”) has three main criteria:

A. Mood reactivity (i.e., mood brightens in response to actual or potential positive events)
Yep. I’m usually down, but unless I’m having a serious depressive-anxious crisis, at most times a fun thing will cheer me up temporarily. This is one of the main differences between melancholic depression and atypical depression.
B. At least two of the following:

  1. Significant weight gain or increase in appetite.
I don’t know, I’ve always had a voracious appetite, I eat like a monster, food is one thing I couldn’t do without and it’s not only because my body needs it. So I guess this is not something that changed after I developed depression. Or… is it? I need to ask my mom again about my earlier eating habits.
2. Hypersomnia (sleeping too much, as opposed to the insomnia present in melancholic depression)
Yep. I can sleep over 20 hours straight if I allow myself to. Sleeping is my main escape measure. And this was happening even at that time I wasn’t in school, so it can’t be explained by exertion. I don’t have a good way to measure that now, since I don’t get to sleep much because of the internship.
3. Leaden paralysis (i.e., heavy, leaden feelings in arms or legs)
Nope, never felt something like this.
4. Long-standing pattern of interpersonal rejection sensitivity (not limited to episodes of mood disturbance) that results in significant social or occupational impairment.
Yep, I can relate to this one. ’nuff said.
C. Criteria are not met for Melancholic Depression or Catatonic Depression during the same episode.

And… uh, my psychiatrist also says I have traits of “Avoidant Personality Disorder“, but I don’t think I have it, so I’m just going to avoid discussing it for now. HA.

Well, going BACK on topic, the criteria of most psychiatric diseases seem to cause a reaction of:

“Hm, Yep… that sounds a bit like me”

“I can relate…”

“Oh yea! That’s me! hm, although this little part…”

These kind of reaction reminds me of… yes! Horoscopes! Lets see mine for today from a random news site that goes to my google reader:

Anxiety in the face of the unknown and consequently a desire to be able to control what is going on leads to a certain obsessive quality in planets placed in this sign. There is a secretiveness and compulsiveness which is hidden under a facade of strong self-control. Instinctual knowledge, occult talents and psychological ability manifest themselves in Scorpio, because the character dwells on the inner emotional demons most people choose to ignore.

OMG, that’s like totally me.

Conclusion? One, psychiatry has a long way to go as a medical science. Two, it doesn’t matter if you have atypical depression or melancholic, or you’re a bipolar who hasn’t yet had a maniac episode. Classification and definitions in psychiatry only seem to help 1) To recognize mental diseases as such. and 2) To choose the treatment that best fits you…

…not to explain why you turned out to be so weird…

Sorry, we humans aren’t quite sure yet. Check back on a couple of decades.


2 thoughts on “Mental Illness

  1. very much like horoscopes! one doctor asked us, 9 years ago, “have you ever felt happy?” – we replied, “uh, yeah.” he then diagnosed us with bi-polar (even though the meds didn’t do a thing. i only got more and more depressed). i think the doctors need to ask better, more thorough questions, of what they want us to know what they are asking. i, also, thin the psychiatrists need to know what it feels like to be admitted to the hospital and what the drugs can cause a person to feel.

    sorry, that was a bit of a ramble. i liked your post and thank you.

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