Psychology

Maybe this will help…placebo sleep

Many sufferers of depression also suffer from sleep issues.

My sleep is terrible, but you just get used to it…now that i refuse to take sleeping tablets and have been off anti-depressants for nearly two years sleep sometimes is difficult to attain.

Perhaps the answer is placebo sleep.

You’re probably aware of the placebo effect—taking a pill of any sort can make a person feel better, even if that pill has no active ingredients. But it turns out that the placebo effect doesn’t just work with gel caps. It’s possible to get placebo exercise and even placebo sleep.

In this study, researchers gave participants a short lecture about how getting more and better sleep improves cognitive function. They also told them that during the normal person’s night of sleep, about 20 to 25 percent of it is REM sleep, the kind that helps the brain most. The researchers then attached sensors to the subjects and told them the sensors would measure pulse, heart rate and REM while the subjects slept. (This was a lie.) Some of the subjects were later told that they got 16.2 percent REM sleep, while the others were told they got 28.7 percent REM sleep. (This was also a lie.)  Read more »

This is soooo true

Have you ever woken up in the morning and the missus is for some unknown reason really, really pissed with you…for no apparent reason. You went to bed, hugged, chtted, drifted off to sleep in each others arms…and then you wake up and the she-beast is at you.

There is a reason for that. She dreamed you were a prick and now she is pissed at you because of the dream.

More than half of women wake up in a mood with their partner – because he annoyed them in a dream during the night, according to new research.

A study found that British men frequently commit misdemeanours such as being unfaithful, having a row or even fathering a secret child in their wives’ dreams.  Read more »

Maybe he can help out the National Party?

ᔥ NZ Herald

Perhaps he might like to assist the National party, since they just seem to think that the best approach to domestic violence is to sweep it all under the carpet and have senior politicians wax lyrical about the standing of Mr B:

For the past two years, the community-minded McGlashan has been the national coordinator and an ambassador for Blow The Whistle On Violence, a nationwide campaign through which sports stars have encouraged families and communities to work together to eliminate domestic violence.

Understanding Browsing

ᔥ Mashable

According to some the internet provides browsers with a death spiral into procrastination and indolence.

Doghouse Diaries understands the web’s tight grip, and has illustrated the familiar browsing cycle in handy flowchart form. Check, recheck, refresh, repeat.

Academic Racism at Waikato Uni?

via the tipline

It looks like there is a fair bit of academic racism going on at Waikato University

It appears that Waikato University is doing its best to add to its reputation as New Zealand’s most PC university.

In the last week, Psychology lecturer Dr Linda Nikora was kind enough to inform a lecture room full of keen students that a number of placements would be available in the clinical psychology programme.

One little catch though. Dr Nikora is proposing that the limited places are restricted to Maori only as she does not believe any Pakeha are culturally competent to deal with Maori health issues. She then advised the students that she will be presenting on this issue to an upcoming conference in a bid to ensure Maori only treat Maori.

Only at Waikato!

Happy, happy, joy, joy

The Economist has an article that will bend Labour and other assorted pity-partiers out of shape:

DESPITE global economic gloom, the world is a happier place than it was before the financial crisis began. That is the counterintuitive conclusion of a poll of 19,000 adults in 24 countries by Ipsos, a research company. Some 77% of respondents now describe themselves as happy, up three points on 2007, the last year before the crisis. Fully 22% (up from 20%) describe themselves as very happy—a more important measure, says Ipsos’s John Wright, since whenever three-quarters of people agree on anything, “you need to pay attention to intensity in the results.”

All such polls come with a health warning. The level of happiness is self-reported—and the term means different things to different people. The Ipsos poll, measuring degrees of happiness, is not strictly comparable with those that ask about “well-being” (such as Gallup) or “life satisfaction” (the World Values survey), so it is hard to test the validity of the conclusions against other efforts. The margin of error is wide, at plus or minus 3.1 points for most countries. Still, Ipsos has been doing its survey regularly for five years and the figures have proved fairly stable during that time, not wildly volatile which they would have been if they had been flaky.

Two conclusions emerge. Large, fast-growing emerging markets do not share rich industrialised countries’ pessimism. The already large “very happy” cohort rose 16 points in Turkey, ten points in Mexico and five points in India. Even rich-country pessimism is uneven. The share of “very happy” people rose six points in—of all places—Japan, defying tsunami and nuclear accidents. But growth amid global misery does not explain everything: the biggest falls in happiness also occurred in large emerging markets, in Indonesia, Brazil and—a perennial miseryguts—Russia.

Right handed or Left handed?

This is a psychology test page. It has been completed by someone I know. The test was supposedly conducted by Dr Ralf Schnabel, the same psychologist who tested me on behalf of Fidelity Life.

Without telling readers anymore I want to know what you think about the handwritten answers. Were they completed by a right handed person or a left handed person and you reasons why you think this is the case. I don’t care about the answers themselves simply the pen marks. Were they created by a right handed person or a left handed person?

Right Handed or Left Handed?

"I could have started a blog, but that's the first sign of mental illness" – Michael Laws

Someone is touchy. Michael Laws is very touchy. He decides to label all bloggers as having a mental illness and suggests he isn’t there yet.

Well F*ck you Michael.

In the middle of Movember you decide to label bloggers as suffering from mental illness. Well welcome to the sh*t-storm that all bloggers will unleash upon you for calling us all mental.

To Donate to Movember, you can either:

•    Click this link http://nz.movember.com/donate/your-details/member_id/17568/ and donate online using your credit card or PayPal account
•    Write a cheque payable to ‘Movember Foundation,’ referencing my Registration Number 17568 and mailing it to: Movember Foundation, PO Box 12708, Wellington, 6144

I have always been up front about my own personal battle with Depression. I have fronted on my own demons. It is time Michael Laws started confronting his own demons, and they are considerable. It is time that bloggers and media everywhere started calling this blackmailer, bullshit artist on his crap and started outing his reprehensible bullying and predator behaviour.

There is power in speaking the truth, something Michael Laws is a stranger to.

I wonder what his fellow Radio host at Radio Live, Mike King thinks about such labels during Movember, an event that Mike King is an ambassador for. I wonder too what John Kirwan thinks of such comments during Movember.

Michaels Laws is a cowardly little weak man with a body like a half sucked throatie. By abusing bloggers for their mental health has just added him to my sh*t-list, a list from which no one ever gets off.

Here is a video that Michael laws would do well to heed. (WARNING: NSFW, Do not play at work)

Movember – Day 2

Today is my birthday, it is also the day that 6 years ago I went to the doctor and found out that the reason I wanted to punch every one out and was so utterly exhausted at the same time was because I suffered from depression.

That started what has been a six year battle with depression, anti-depressants, a scum insurance company called Fidelity Life and their equally scum doctors Des Gorman, Anthony Asteraidis and Ralf Schnabel (medical professionals who make their living almost exclusively from insurance companies). It is only now, after de-toxing myself from the anti-depressants that I also find out that covered up under all the medication and depression was de-personlisation disorder. Adam Duritz lead singer of the Counting Crows published an essay in which he describes his experience with suffering from depersonalization disorder. (It is the best, but also most frightening description of what it is like with depersonalisation disorder)

Now that I no longer have the anti-depressants in my system I can start to address the causes of my depression in a meaningful way instead of plastering over the cracks.

Fidelity Life thought a year ago that I was cured, this despite their own medical evidence, yet in the past year I haven’t managed to even remotely get near working. In that year I have lost my house, been in court, and removed all drugs from my system, this year has been one of the hardest of my life, it is almost as if I am starting a new life.

I realise now, even, if Fidelity Life doesn’t, that I will now live with the spectre of depression for the rest of my life. It isn’t something, now after 6 years, that will just go away. I live every day hoping I don’t slip into a DPD episode or wake up in the morning so utterly exhausted just from surviving the previous day that I can’t get out of bed.

Three things keep it all at bay, or at least help when depression and DPD strikes. The gym, music and blogging.

When I say the gym, I don’t mean some namby-pamby poofs type of gym, I mean my mate Buck‘s gym in the heart of South Auckland, where fatties, gang members, both patched and un-patched, Pasifika, Maori plus a few of us whitey go. A gym where there are no sooks, and there are no soft options. When I go to the gym it is for two hours at least and it is tough. It needs to be to reset my core being. because in living with depression for 6 years I have learned and understood the pathology of the illness so that I can try to combat it.

For me, my form of depression is the “fight response”. That means my body thinks it is always in a battle. The closer to the edge of depression I get the shallower my breathing becomes, its all automatic, the body is designed that way to divert oxygen to the muscles for battle or for flight. It is one of the reasons why John Kirwan was able to perform so well despite his depression, literally his body was tuned to provide huge amounts of oxygen to the fast twitch muscles which enabled him to score magnificent tries like there was no-one in front of him. This is the same mechanism that causes people in high stress situations, in battle, in acidents, in trauma situation can perform huge feats of physical amazement. It is the ancient “berserker” mechanism of the Vikings. The problem is my body is set on that full time. With it come determination, hyper-vigilance, and utter, utter exhaustion. Eventually if you don’t reset you just collapse as I well know. The gym forces your body to breathe deeply and helps reset.

I encourage anyone suffering depression to start of by going for good, hard long walks or bike rides. Trust me it will help. It is what got me started on the road to recovery.

It is only now after I have purged the drugs from my body that I am finally starting to feel like I am getting on top of the “Black Dog”. But it is still a daily battle. As I mentioned music helps and in particular some songs that have a great deal of meaning for me. Here is one I listen to frequently. It helps to express out loud what is going on inside.

Of course I don’t have to tell you about my blogging, you are all my loyal and understanding fans so you know already how that helps. by reading and commenting and supporting you have all helped me immensely and for that I thank you you all.

I will continue the fight against depression and I will continue to try to educate people as to why depression isn’t just about feeling a bit sad. Unfortunately Insurance companies and Fidelity Life in particular don’t seem to grasp this issue and continue to force feed their clients and patients with cocktails of drugs that do nothing to address the core issues of depression. The pity is that Fidelity Life doesn’t want to talk so I will have have to educate them in a court room, an education that will cost them far more than a few meetings.

Movember is a cause I feel strongly about and I’m asking you to support my efforts by making a donation to me.  To help, you can either:

•    Click this link http://nz.movember.com/donate/your-details/member_id/17568/ and donate online using your credit card or PayPal account
•    Write a cheque payable to ‘Movember Foundation,’ referencing my Registration Number 17568 and mailing it to: Movember Foundation, PO Box 12708, Wellington, 6144

All donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

To join my Movember team go to http://nz.movember.com/register/105390 and follow the steps. Once registered you’ll be sent all the information you need to raise funds and start growing as part of my Movember team.

The perils of the pills

Vincent van Gogh's 1890 painting At Eternity's Gate

Vincent van Gogh's 1890 painting At Eternity's Gate

As part of my ongoing discussion about depression I am going to explain in cold facts why warm fuzzy soft focus ads do nothing in understanding depression.

Don’t get me wrong, John Kirwan is doing a great job but he still doesn’t want to scare the horses on what I believe is a fraud and mass poisoning by professionals in dosing people with depression with drugs.

The simple, plain and unadulterated fact about anti-depressants for me is that not one single one I have been experimented with has worked and some, particularly venlafaxine, have actually contributed more pain than any relief. This isn’t necessarily the doctors fault, because this is all one great experiment that unwilling participants commit themselves to without any idea as to the outcome or the consequences of pouring a chemical cocktail into your body.

When you first go down with depression, or perhaps, reach the magic threshold under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders then your doctor will use what s/he has been trained to use which is drugs. the first lolly almost without exception is Prozac. When that doesn’t do anything, then they usually try Citalopram or Paroxetine, then after trying all those and still feeling like Vincent Van Gogh in his famous painting At Eternity’s Gate (left/above). That painting covers exactly show you feel. you can see the despair in every brush stroke.

Yet doctors, bless them, just aren’t trained in how to actually help you. If you happen to have a insurance policy for income protection, like from life leechers like Fidelity Life, thn you are really screwed. You are now trapped in a spiral of hurt you have no control over.

You see, in order to make a claim you have to be sick. You are sick, but that is not the problem, the problem is that now you have to get well, and not by your definition, or any other definition except that of the insurance company. Plus you have to get well in their time-frame or you are in for some serious poisoning at the hands of paid lackeys of the insurance company.

The problem starts because the insurance company and the doctor and indeed society in general puts the cart before the horse. You sit a test, you are depressed, you make a claim, you sit more tests and then the claim is accepted.  A course of medical experimentation treatment is agreed upon and off you go on the chemical train-wreck.

Six months later and your doctor will be pretty sure by now that the first course of drugs hasn’t done a thing. The insurance company knows for sure that you aren’t yet well because they are still paying and that is the worst thing ever in their minds. They don’t give a flying fuck bout you or your health and it is about now that they write you a letter demanding a review by “their” psychologists and psychiatrists. I say “their” because that is exactly what I mean. Almost their entire practices are funded by insurance companies. In Auckland the insurance company favourites are Dr. Anthony Asteraidis and Ralf Schnabel, one is South African and has a handshake like a wet tissue from a peep show and the other is a German and all the medical experimentation nightmares that conjures up. they sit you down for a 40 min session. It should be 60 minutes, but they need 20 minutes of the hour they are billing the insurance company to write a report that is more about covering their arse than helping you. Dr Anthony Asteraidis, at this point for me, recommended I go onto Lithium, for no reason whatsoever other than it couldn’t really hurt could it. this despite me showing none of the symptoms for which Lithium is a treatment. Of course I resisted. But this is all part of the trap from the insurance company. You see they will now say that you aren’t trying hard enough to get well, so demand a change of medication.

Now you have to go through withdrawal from one and substitute that poison for another. then gradually increase dosage until it too becomes apparent that this drug doesn’t work either. Now repeat this several times. By now you will have realised that your life has become a chemically imposed treadmill, slowly but surely wearing you down. Just to increase your stress levels though, you will discover that the insurance company has put a private investigator on your tail. he isn’t that smart because he gets caught, then they write a letter and say it is all part of the process. that’s about the only true thing, the process, that is the insurance companies process to get you off claim, well or not. And you have to do what they say or like Pavlov’s Dogs you cop a flogging from them. This will include cutting your claim off, just to see how you react, interviews private investigators and the like. Not once will they offer to pay for a psychologist. Not once did they ever.

I sought the extra help because I realised that the drugs weren’t going to work. I paid for it, I went every week, then dropped to a fortnight because I couldn’t afford it, then monthly because my claim was delayed, postponed, lost or simply cut off.

After a while though the insurance company insists that you start taking more serious drugs. They don’t say it openly, but when they send you letters, lots of letters, with the implied threat of cessation underlined and in bold then  you get the picture. The doctors all concur that you have a Major Depressive Disorder, and you do. What they fail to tell you is that all their treatment, plus the tickle ups from the insurance company is why you still have it. but their answer is more powerful drugs. Even better, not for you, but for someone, is that these more powerful drugs aren’t funded by Pharmac, welcome to real wealth distribution by chemical torture.

When I was left to my own devices and with good work from my psychologist I was getting well. The long hours in the gym have helped me way more than any drug but psychology and gym doesn’t count to an insurance company. For them trying means trying more chemicals. Along comes a drug regime change, a tickle up, a cessation of  claim and right back down into the painting you go. This where the combination of chemical torture and mathematics starts to bite you. you see what no-one tells you is that depression is cumulative. the maths gets you in the end. the insurance company knows this, and this is why they try like hell to get you off claim well before a year is out. Once you go past a year, the maths mounts, once you go past two or three serious depressive episodes the maths mounts, for them financially, and for you mentally. For them only the money matters, your health is of no consequence to them.

So because you have now had two or three depressive episodes they define you as having a major depressive illness. You do. they put you there. Basically the maths goes like this. If you have one major depressive episode (longer than the median of 23 weeks) then you have a 50% chance of having another in your lifetime. If you do have another episode then you now have a 75% chance of having still another major depressive episode, and after the third the maths is 99%. Got that. Three major depressive episodes and get used to life with major depression. The maths and the research says you will never be rid of the black dog as long as you shall live.

Once you work out the math, you also work out that drugs aren’t going to work, but by this time you are on Venlafaxine or something similar.

These are the side effects of Venlafaxine (The ones I have I’ll note for you. This is highly personal but I think people really should know what these drugs do without the soft soaping. This is real, this is my life, has been my life for 6 years. I’m not hiding it, I’m using it for your education, and I’m not excusing anything either, this is just what it is.)

NOTE: The percentage of occurrences for each side effect listed comes from clinical trial data provided by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. The percentages indicate the percentage of people that experienced the side effect in clinical trials.

  • Headache (34%) YES
  • Nausea (21-35%) YES
  • Insomnia (15-23%) YES
  • Sexual dysfunction (14-34%) YES
  • Dry mouth (12-16%) YES
  • Dizziness (11-20%) YES
  • Sweating (10-14%) YES
  • Decreased appetite (8-20%)
  • Abnormal ejaculation (8-16%) YES
  • Hypertension (4-5%)
  • Vivid/abnormal dreams (3-7%) YES
  • Akathisia (agitation) (3-4%) YES
  • Decreased libido (3-9%) YES
  • Increased yawning (3-5%) YES
  • Apathy YES
  • Constipation
  • Ongoing irritable bowel syndrome
  • Fatigue YES
  • Vertigo YES
  • Orthostatic hypotension (postural drop in blood pressure)
  • Impulsive actions YES
  • Electric shock-like sensations also called “brain zapsYES
  • Increased anxiety at the start of treatment
  • Memory loss YES
  • Restless legs syndrome YES

Less common to rare side effects

Note ‘Rare’ adverse effects occur in fewer than 1 in 1000 patients.

Now that is quite a list, and I’m not making it up. This is my life. Doesn’t sound like a wonder drug to you now does it. Well think about how it is from my point of view. Now those are the side effects of being on it, I am now 8 days into being off the evil chemical and the withdrawal side effects are even worse. the worst thing is this scary paragraph:

Venlafaxine may be particularly hazardous to those individuals who are susceptible to both venlafaxine-induced serotonin toxicity (also known as serotonin syndrome) and SSRI discontinuation syndrome. In such cases, individuals who have developed the potentially fatal serotonin toxicity and/or may be at risk of doing so, may find cessation or dose reduction unachievable, placing them at continuing risk. As it is not possible to determine which patients are likely to develop the most severe symptoms of the discontinuation syndrome before cessation or dose reduction is attempted, this dual risk requires that all patients are closely monitored during any increase in dosage (when the patient is most at risk of developing serotonin toxicity) and that such increases are carried out in the smallest incremental steps possible. Additionally, patients who recommence venlafaxine or revert to a higher dosage following a failed attempt to discontinue the drug or reduce dosage are another group with an increased risk of developing serotonin toxicity.

Fantastic drug huh? F*cked if you are on it, or doubly f*cked if you try to come off it.

I am writing this today after having spent 4 hours this afternoon “in the painting”. I have had a full blown DPD episode, complete with hallucinations. This post came about right in the middle of the episode and it wasn’t till I could get up again that I started writing. I am writing this because it lessens the pain. Every word I write takes a little bit away as I type it out. (At this point I have written 1781 words and the pain is still there. I’m sorry but I think people need to know.

For me the drugs don’t work, I suspect that they don’t work for many others, I suspect that their lives are ruined and papered over by the cocktail of drugs. Right now I feel that my live as I knew has been destroyed. The devastation is pretty complete. The money is all gone, and I had a fair bit. The houses are gone, the friendships are gone, the relationships are gone. I find it utterly confusing that despite all of that I can actually still do this, that unfortunately doesn’t pay the bills. Working and suffering through the above are unfortunately unable to intersect. the insurance company, Fidelity Life, however thinks I am “cured”, they think that I am “well”. What they really mean is that they arbitrarily decided I cost them too much and despite all medical evidence to the contrary moved me “off claim”. they can do this knowing that my life and stability is utterly destroyed and that to pursue them will cost me my sanity and any remaining resources I have.

Unfortunately for them they picked the wrong person to screw over. I never give in, I never surrender and I can write and surprisingly lots of people like what I write. they refuse to talk, they ignore letters, well they can play like that, but after wrecking my life they will pay and it will be loss of reputation and ongoing posts like this that they will pay through. If they won’t talk, then I will.

I will fight this illness for as long as it takes, I will not give in, and I will tell the truth so that others may learn. If I had known then what i know now about these evil drugs I would never have taken them, I would have fought harder at the start to run my plan for wellness, based around physical fitness and I for sure would be well now. Drugs, Doctors and Fidelity Life have taken me from one “painting” and put me in another. I sure as hell won’t be solving this like Van Gogh did though.

That said, my GP and my psychologist in conjunction with my psychiatrist have been brilliant, they have always agreed with my plan, but when in the grip of an insurance company that can see only one solution then it is impossible to move ahead. In one sense having Fidelity Life cut me off in contravention of our contract has allowed me to be free to pursue my own path toward wellness. It has taken me 6 months to wean myself down to zero on the drugs, I am now in the home stretch for being drug free. Now I can concentrate on trying to pick up the pieces of the wreckage of the last six years.

Blame is the wrong word, but I can think of no other. State funded, doctor prescribed drugs supposed to heal are the “blame” for my hell of a life. In actual fact the blame is a lack of education that there are other ways.

If you suffer depression, or think you do then seek help, but make sure you explore the alternatives to the chemical cocktails. In the absence of anything else listen to John Kirwan, even if the message is soft-focused and massaged so as not to scare you.

As a postscript….If you notice me posting all sorts of videos to my Facebook wall, that is another of my release mechanisms. I play really sad songs about depression until I’m sick of hearing about it, every video I post leaches the depression away. Don’t despair of me, I’m not going to top myself, and I really, really appreciate the messages of support I get even if it is a “Like” of the post.