Tag Archives: Drugs

S – #AtoZChallenge on Mental Health

Welcome to day 19 in the #AtoZChallenge on mental health. We’ve arrived at the letter S. Here goes.

Self-Injury

Self-injury or self-harm is the deliberate infliction of wounds upon oneself. Some scientists make a distinciton between self-injury and self-harm. Self-injury is then seen as leaving relatively minor, local wounds such as cuts or burns. Many people with depression, anxiety or emotion regulation issues such as in borderline personality disorder self-injure. Self-harm then is the infliction of grave harm onto the self, such as amputation. This is seen more often, according to these scientists, in people with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. In reality, of course, only a small portion of even the most severely psychotic patients engage in severe self-mutilation.

In DSM-5, non-suicidal self-injury was introduced as its own mental health diagnosis. Prior to that, many people who self-injure were misdiagnosed, often with borderline personality disorder. The DSM-IV guidelines even said that, if someone self-injured to cope with overwhelming emotions, BPD should be diagnosed, even though BPD has nine criteria, five of which must be met for a diagnosis.

Self-Medication

Self-medication refers to the abuse of alcohol or drugs with the goal to cope with mental health problems. It can also refer to the use of prescription medications that haven’t been prescribed to that specific person. Many people “self-medicate” with alcohol, even though alcohol does not have any medical benefits (except in mouthwash). In fact, it can make symptoms worse. Same for drugs. For instance, many people with psychotic symptoms use cannabis because it seems to calm them, even though it is in reality thought to worsen psychotic symptoms.

Of course, some drugs sold on the streets actually do help with certain symptoms. For example, people with undiagnosed ADHD might start using stimulant drugs to counter their symptoms. It is for this reason that self-medication needs to be taken very seriously. In my post on dual diagnosis last October, I addressed the complicated relationship between alcohol or drug use and mental illness

Survivor

Many people were and still are treated for mental illness against their will. In the antipsychiatry movement, people who come out of (forced) psychiatric care are seen as survivors. Many mentally ill people have indeed endured traumatic experiences at the hands of professionals. Many also have had other traumatic experiences, which may’ve contributed to their mental health condition. As such, they’re also survivors.

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D – #AtoZChallenge on Mental Health

Welcome to my letter D post in the #AtoZChallenge on mental health. Today, I have quite a few words to share with you again.

Danger

In the Dutch mental health act, people can be involuntarly committed to a mental hospital if they’re a danger to themselves or others. Danger can refer to many things, including self-harm or aggression, but also to “social disintegration” or “eliciting other people’s aggression with one’s behavior”. In other words, if you’re plain irritating, you’re a “danger” to yourself.

Dependence

With the current rehabilitation model of psychiatric care, we’re not supposed to become dependent anymore. That is, we can clean our rooms and do other household chores, but often only when told to. I have often experienced the same sense of dependence no matter whether practical independence was encouraged or not.

Depression

One of the more common mental illnesses within the general population. It is not as common among long-term mental hospital inpatients, although some will claim they feel “depressed”. That usually refers to minor, everday depression. I was once screened for depression because a mental nurse insisted I get screened after teling him how low I felt. Being borderline, I often feel slightly depressed but my emotions also shift rapidly.

Diagnosis

What the mental health professionals say is wrong with you. You need a primary diagnosis, which dictates practically everything about your treatment. If you happen to have more than one mental disorder, too bad.

Discharge

When you’re let out of the mental hospital or, in outpatient treatment, when treatment is discontinued. Discharge is usually a mutual agreement between the patient and their treatment provider. An exception is involuntary commitment, when someone can be discharged when their section runs out. People can also be forcibly discharged if they have improved so much that they no longer need the mental hospital, have broken the hospital rules multiple times, or refuse every treatment offered.

Drugs

This can refer to either the drugs handed out like smarties by mental health professionals or to the street drugs patients get in the hospital parking lot. Seriously, drug dealers wait right outside of a mental hospital and patients with privileges will get their (and other people’s) drugs. Outside of my unit is a billboard that says drug use is prohibited, but I’ve smelled people smoke marijuana and who knows what else right next to the billboard.