Feminism and mental health - The drugs don't work

(442 Posts)
dittany Sun 26-Jun-11 22:13:12

Two articles in the New York Review of Books, reviewing a number of new books, which argue variously that SSRIs are almost no more effective than placebos (a fact that drug companies have covered up) and more worryingly that the marked increase of disabling mental illness being recorded may in fact be caused by the drugs being prescribed:



"The number of disabled mentally ill has risen dramatically since 1955, and during the past two decades, a period when the prescribing of psychiatric medications has exploded, the number of adults and children disabled by mental illness has risen at a mind-boggling rate. Thus we arrive at an obvious question, even though it is heretical in kind: Could our drug-based paradigm of care, in some unforeseen way, be fueling this modern-day plague?"

I was aware that the so-called chemical imbalance that supposedly causes depression was a piece of made up speculation by unscientific doctors, but these articles and the books they are reviewing spell it out clearly.

This is a feminist issue how? Well women are the majority of people who are diagnosed with depression, so if the drugs that are being used on us are ineffective or even damaging, that is extremely concerning.

There's also plenty to say about the sexism of the psychiatric profession which I'll come back to tomorrow. I also think the profession's incompetence and their misogyny are linked.

Prolesworth Sun 26-Jun-11 22:15:34

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brilliant links dittany, thanks.

I have to say that regardless of 'effectiveness' these drugs are addictive. I had been on them for most of 15 years, and 'crash' horribly into severe depression whenever I come off them. I have heard of the same reaction from countless other people, yet the medical and psychiatric professions maintain that these drugs are completely non-addictive.

However, I have to say that I would suggest that the rise in the number of disabled mentally ill since 1955 is multifactorial: people are more open about their own and family members' issues, social support is breaking down (imho), narcissistic culture sets impossibly high standards and compulsory consumerism creates addiction and emptiness. It doesn't surprise me that depression etc is rising year on year.

dittany Sun 26-Jun-11 22:31:41

It's so corrupt:

"As psychiatry became a drug-intensive specialty, the pharmaceutical industry was quick to see the advantages of forming an alliance with the psychiatric profession. Drug companies began to lavish attention and largesse on psychiatrists, both individually and collectively, directly and indirectly. They showered gifts and free samples on practicing psychiatrists, hired them as consultants and speakers, bought them meals, helped pay for them to attend conferences, and supplied them with “educational” materials. When Minnesota and Vermont implemented “sunshine laws” that require drug companies to report all payments to doctors, psychiatrists were found to receive more money than physicians in any other specialty. The pharmaceutical industry also subsidizes meetings of the APA and other psychiatric conferences. About a fifth of APA funding now comes from drug companies.

Drug companies are particularly eager to win over faculty psychiatrists at prestigious academic medical centers. Called “key opinion leaders” (KOLs) by the industry, these are the people who through their writing and teaching influence how mental illness will be diagnosed and treated. They also publish much of the clinical research on drugs and, most importantly, largely determine the content of the DSM. In a sense, they are the best sales force the industry could have, and are worth every cent spent on them. Of the 170 contributors to the current version of the DSM (the DSM-IV-TR), almost all of whom would be described as KOLs, ninety-five had financial ties to drug companies, including all of the contributors to the sections on mood disorders and schizophrenia."

Allegra, I've heard that you have to come of psychiatric drugs very very slowly. Have you tried that. It took me six months to a year to come off a minute dosage (10mg) of citalopram. The side effects I had in the first few weeks of it were horrendous too.

allosaurusrex Sun 26-Jun-11 22:33:21

There are and always have been massive problems with the integrity of psychiatry IMO. However, I'd much rather have our modern problem of over-prescription of anti-depressants than the psychosurgery and hysterectomies of the past. (Some influential doctors believed that a woman was rather controlled by her womb and this could cause her mental health problems, such as promiscuity or spinsterhood, that sort of thing. Ever wondered where the word hysteria comes from???)

I think there is a real problem with the huge amount of mental health issues amongst members of our society, and I reckon Oliver James was onto something with Affluenza, not read it but think the idea is interesting. Our capitalist consumer society where we live off the backs of the poor of other countries is possibly the biggest culprit as opposed to a psychiatric conspiracy.

oh gosh this is scary stuff.

I actually hope the article is wrong.... because I have followed exactly the pattern it describes, of being long-term depressed on increasing doses of SSRIs which became less effective over time, then being diagnosed as bipolar type II recently and put on mood stabilisers (actually an anti-epilepsy drug).

Dittany I have heard it can be incredibly difficult- certainly when I do it I have a horrible crash which makes it impossible to parent my kids- no exaggeration. I am divorced and don't have a month to go into drug rehab as I would need to sad

dittany Sun 26-Jun-11 22:41:25

It's not really much of a choice is it? Be butchered or have your brain damaged? I don't think we need to imagine that those are the only options, Allusorus.

Has anybody ever tried controlled withdrawal over a very long period of time Allegra? I managed mine myself, and when I say difficult, for me it was just the length of time it took. I had to do it very carefully. I think I wasn't clear there, the side effects were when I started the drug. Really awful.

dittany Sun 26-Jun-11 22:44:35

Psychiatrists never cut men's testicles off did they. It was just women who had to be butchered.

Hmm. yes I did when pregnant and trying to conceive. During pregnancy with ds2 I was severely depressed. The first time was not so bad but I put that down to idealising the experience of having a child :D. The last time was a month or so ago and truly horrible. No amount of talk therapy etc would have got me through it.

dittany Sun 26-Jun-11 22:55:22

Did you just stop taking them though allegra? Or did you start with tiny reductions in dose over a very long period of time? SSRIs take ages to withdraw from. You can't stop them immediately.

Also you do need to find other ways of dealing with your feelings. I found the Sedona method (where you practice releasing your feelings), lying with crystals on my chakras (hippy I know, but whatever it's very soothing), being out in nature, eating healthily, taking exercise, were all very important in getting my mind back in balance again. Craniosacral therapy is very useful too.

allosaurusrex Mon 27-Jun-11 01:05:33

It's not really much of a choice is it? Be butchered or have your brain damaged? I don't think we need to imagine that those are the only options, Allusorus.

Agreed. I'm not condoning the over-prescription of psycho-active drugs by any means, but I think the issues are of our wider cultural context (of which unequal treatment of women is a part). I guess there is nothing wrong with pursuing psychiatry from a feminist standpoint but I think we need to face the reasons behind both our perceived and actual mental ill health as a culture aside from gender issues also.

Psychiatrists never cut men's testicles off did they. It was just women who had to be butchered.

Indeed. Psychiatry developed from a deeply misogynist point of view and the medical establishment are (unfortunately) still in thrall to many of the broader ideas of early figures like Freud although they claim to have distanced themselves from him in particular.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 04:01:35

I have to read this tomorrow as it's so late. I felt compelled to say that SSRIs saved my life, literally. I still take them. I knew many women in the 70s who were dependent on huge doses of tranquillisers Valium or Librium; I feel it's important to stress that SSRIs are neither tranquillisers, nor addictive in the sense of needing increased dosage to maintain effects.

I know several men who also take SSRIs. While I'd be unsurprised to learn that more women are treated for depression than men - and would view that as a feminist issue - the question is far more complex than that. I see others have already mentioned some of the points I'd like to make.

Your quoted author refers to a drug-based paradigm of care. I don't think anyone - patient, clinician or carer - would dispute that mental illnesses need treatment with therapy as well as drugs. I was lucky to receive both for the first few years after becoming ill (until my insurance ran out!) but it's been close to impossible to maintain via the NHS and charities.

No part of this topic is clear-cut: there are no 'right' answers; the very new science of biopsychology is still racing to find out what causes mental illnesses; the development, reporting and treatment of mental disorders are bound to economic and social structures by their very definition.

Will definitely come back here, but wanted primarily to de-demonise SSRIs. They're the best we've got at present, and a damn sight better than what came before.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 08:24:29

"I guess there is nothing wrong with pursuing psychiatry from a feminist standpoint"

LOL - and would you be the one telling us if there was something wrong with pursuing it from a feminist standpoint.

Of course there's nothing wrong with examining psychiatry through a feminist lens. It's not even a question. The psychiatric profession is deeply misogynistic. It is also, equally importantly, ineffective, and in the US by the sounds of it, corrupt. It doesn't cure people, it leaves them on higher and higher doses drugs, which they struggle to get off. These drugs also have some hideous side effects for many of the people taking them.

Of course if you want to discuss mental illness and its treatment from a wider context, then do feel free to start a new thread .

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 08:38:44

We're lucky here that the psychiatric industry isn't driven by the profit motive as it is in the US, or there would probably also be stories here of four year olds dying because they had been prescribed three different highly potent psychiatric drugs for "bipolar disorder" that apparently they had been born with.

There is no physical pathology for any of these mental illnesses, yet psychiatry is giving people body changing medicinces. Changes that are sometimes irreverible. Psychiatry is at the stage the rest of medicine used to be at about 150 years ago, where almost none of their treatments were evidence based and most were ineffective.

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 08:55:04

Remember this recent article in this country. The boy's father believes the boy hanged himself due to the drugs that he had been prescribed.


allosaurusrex Mon 27-Jun-11 09:07:09

Dittany. I'm not sure what your problem is. If you're discussing the issues in mental health as related to women that's fine. But it is perfectly valid for me to point out that the problem is much wider than that. Why the hell shouldn't I do it on this thread?

By addressing psychiatry from a feminist POV some progress may be made, but you'd still be left with a deeply flawed system within a deeply mentally unhealthy society. That is my point. You want women to get better treatment then you're better looking at what's happening in the whole system and why we are such unhappy people in this country.

(As an aside, the fact that more women are on anti-depressant medication than men is not necessarily down to the medical profession's prejudices - and remember that many prescribed these drugs have only seen a GP - but down to self-selection. More women seek help for mental health problems than men and I don't think anyone informed would argue that this is because women are more mentally fragile but rather that they're more willing to seek help.)

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 09:10:25

Start the Week has clinical scientists Raymond Tallis on now. He is discyussing the reductionism inherent in neuromania, and the theory that we are our brains. I think he makes good points. The underlying philosophy behind it, as in part exemplified by the progressive philosopher, John Gray, is nihilistic. I believe it has a political aspect that is intentional. I think some of it is a reflection of teh progressive theories behind books like 'Brave New World', where drugs like soma are used to control the population in the 'world state'.

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 09:13:15

He also mentioned that the pink/blue divide for girls and boys is nonsense, as it was the opposite way around in Victorian times.

GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 09:15:14

I am really, really glad that this thread is here. I wanted to start something about the (for me) pernicious effects of antids for ages, but thought as I am not a medic I would be shouted down. Plus I didn't want to scaremonger.

I have been suffering with severe depression for years, I have taken antids on and off. With no joy. They would work for a specific time, but then II would feel 100 times worse.

I progressed from fluoxetetine, to seroxat, to citalopram, to 37.5 g of venlafaxine, to 70g, to 140g. I never saw a psychiatrist in this time, was just prescribed them by GP. A couple of months ago I thought I was going mad, I would lay in bed at night clicking my fingers and thinking seriously of running away/hurling myself off a cliff. Was unable to cry, felt no joy.

I went back to GP in utter despair, he said he thought I was bipolar, and shouldn't be taking venlafaxine as it can make you psychotic if you are bipolar. He advised me to wean myself off gently. I looked on the internet and saw that it was very difficuly to stop taking venalfaxine. But I had had enough and just stopped. Thankfully I never had brain zaps, but felt like the angriest person in the world, with flu, for days. I just stayed in and tried not to scream at the cat.

Then - it lifted. The whole fucking fog lifted. I felt like someone NORMAL for the first time in ages. yes, I was still unhappy about many things (my relationship is falling apart, I have loads of family issues) but I could actually feel unhappiness, which felt better than the fucked off feeling of being disassociated from it, iyswim. It is actually quite scary how different I feel, and scary how much the drugs dampened every emotion, both good and bad.

I don't care how bad things get, I will never take SSRI or SNRIs again. They didn't work for me, they made me worse, and surely I cannot be the only one (actually I know I am not, read plenty of forums on the general hideousness of venlafaxine). I can't believe a GP presribed that willy nilly.

I am not a medic and obviously basing this assumption on my personal experience, but I genuinely believe that those drugs have more problems associated with them than is initially believed. It is frightening.

Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 09:17:58

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claig Mon 27-Jun-11 09:21:18

Prolesworth, you may be right. I have read reviews of his books, and I know that they are opposite to my views. Hence why I thought he was progressive. But I am very possibly wrong about him.

Ormirian Mon 27-Jun-11 09:23:29

allegra - I am struggling with the withdrawal demons atm. It's terrifying how something so initially helpful is such a nightmare when you try to stop.

"with each episode usually lasting no more than six months and interspersed with long periods of normalcy, the conditions are now chronic and lifelong."Yes to that. I have always had episodes of depression and anxiety - dreadful while they lasted but temporary. But my life was such that I couldn't take 6m out to deal with my head. Citalopram worked wonders with me to start with and I had reached a point when I felt I needed something. But coming off it feels as bad as the original symptoms at times - the difference for me is knowledge and self-belief. I am determined that I will cope even if it kills me hmm If someone could have helped me reach the emotional state of healthy that I am in now it might have been possible to beat the demons without the pills.

The most useful thing to research IMO is what it is about modern life that makes up so fucking unhappy! And why women?

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 09:24:20

Prolesworth, you're right about him. He doesn't seem to be progressive.


But I still think his views are wrong, because I think at heart they are nihilistic.

GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 09:24:36

Drugs are dished out very easily, it is probably easier to get antidepressants that it is to get antibioitcs!

I certainly think my depression was made worse by the antids. I should have been prescribed some sort of counselling or behaviour therapy or something. But is probably cheaper and easier to give you some pills.

GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 09:27:28

I agree with Orm - what the hell is it about modern life which makes you feel like the wheels are going to fall off your life and you are going nuts?

I always put down my depressive tendencies to my upbringing - which I still think has had an impact. And that can't be fixed with pills can it?

Mind you I went to a private counselling session once, and really didn't want to talk to someone about my life, how the hell could they help or understand? So my own bloody-mindedness scuppered me there. I think I will try counselling again though if I start falling down the black hole. Anything but those pills.

Ormirian Mon 27-Jun-11 09:29:22

Maybe it's allied to whatever it is that makes so many people drink, smoke dope etc. Life just isn't all that sometimes. Our problem is accepting it.

Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 09:29:37

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claig Mon 27-Jun-11 09:31:04

GetOrf, have you heard about Dr. Breggin on antidepressants? He is in the minority, but he discusses the side effects. There are lots of interviews with him on US TV channels on youtube.

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 09:31:35
GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 09:31:36

I reckon it is having to be so bloody perfect.

Have to be a perfect mother
Have a great career (which is usally knackering)
Have to look good
Have to be a perfect partner
Have to be well read, well educated
Have to be knowledgaable about all sorts
Have to be stylish
Have to be thin
Have to be able to cook
Have to be able to clean
Have to be able to have fun

GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 09:33:36

No wonder we are all going nuts.

I agree with your proles - feeling like shit is probably a response to all the stuff which has to be done and done well. If you fall short of anything your feel like shit, and so the cycle starts.

Thanks claig I will have a look at that later.

This is a great threda - have got to go now (WORK - pah grin) but will read it later.

Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 09:35:13

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Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 09:40:36

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claig Mon 27-Jun-11 09:43:19

Agree. I read teh review for 'Straw Dogs'. It is extremely depressing and nihilistic, a bit like the tales of doom and destruction of teh climate change evangelists. I think many of these depressing messages have a political purpose, to dampen the human spirit and to prevent humanity progressing. Brave New World had the elites drugging the population to stifle and control them. Didn't Lennon say that the CIA invented LSD for control?


The opposition to nihilism is religion. That's why the nihilists are determined to destroy religion and hope and spread their pessimistic messages of doom to the people.

Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 09:43:50

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claig Mon 27-Jun-11 09:48:41

Don't mention politics, or they'll double the dose. Just nod your head and behave.

Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 09:52:07

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Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 09:52:49

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Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 09:53:50

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claig Mon 27-Jun-11 09:54:28

Prolesworth, thanks for that. You know more about him than I do. I will have to actually start reading him to see what he is getting at. But I don't think it will be my cup of tea.

Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 09:56:55

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wubblybubbly Mon 27-Jun-11 09:58:17

Going through mental health problems my own experiences have been very good.

I was fortunate enough to see a wonderful female GP who was reluctant to prescribe antidepressants and put me in touch with a fabulous psychologist - another woman.

That helped me through a particular period but the depression came back. This time I was seen by a male psychiatric nurse. I didn't get far, there didn't really seem any structure to our discussions, although he did introduce me to Margaret Atwood.

By this point I was taking ADs, prescribed by my GP, without any side effects other than weight gain, they certainly didn't cure me, but I stopped feeling suicidal. I then started on a course of CBT with a female counsellor. That was the key for me, the pragmatic approach just clicked and everything changed for me.

I came off the AD's myself. Slowly and gradually, as is advised and felt no effects at all.

3 years later I suffered from PND, another small stint on AD's which I asked for, my male GP was reluctant to prescribe them but he did it. More CBT and again, it worked for me. I don't think I was on the AD's long enough for them to have any real impact, I quickly came off them without any problems.

My point really is that I don't think AD's in themselves are an issue, it's the whole care system around mental health. I was very lucky I feel, with the professionals I came into contact with. AD's were part of the solution on some occasions, but certainly not the be all and end all.

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 10:00:27

Sorry, one more aside about him. Here is a Guardian review of Straw Dogs


'Not that nihilism is a term he would endorse. His book is so remorselessly, monotonously negative that even nihilism implies too much hope. Nihilism for Gray suggests the world needs to be redeemed from meaninglessness, a claim he regards as meaningless. Instead, we must just accept that progress is a myth, freedom a fantasy, selfhood a delusion, morality a kind of sickness, justice a mere matter of custom and illusion our natural condition. Technology cannot be controlled, and human beings are entirely helpless. Political tyrannies will be the norm for the future, if we have any future at all. It isn't the best motivation for getting out of bed.'

The elites in Brave New World couldn't hope for a better supporter. If humanity listened to him, they would soon head to the annihilation, doom and destruction that is so often preached to the people by the elites. No wonder people are increasingly depressed when so many meesages of doom and hopelessness are constantly spread by the media of the elites.

Stropperella Mon 27-Jun-11 10:04:33

Nobody ever seems to consider that hormonal contraceptive methods may play a part in the increase in the number of women diagnosed with depression/anxiety etc. Hormonal contraception is both dished out and taken with far too little thought about its side effects. As for SSRIs, I thought it was common knowledge that they don't do much for some people and are actively harmful in some cases (see Ben Goldacre on this subject).

As a patient, it is worth reading up about what you have been prescribed - before you consent to taking it. If you are unhappy about what you have found out about the meds, go back to your GP and talk to them about it.

In cases where people are really mentally ill, the correct medication is a life-saver and should not be messed with. If your ADs are making you feel worse, then you are either on the wrong ones, or maybe you don't need them.

SindyTellsMe Mon 27-Jun-11 10:11:56

I have little to add as I am only beginning to wake up politically after years of ostriching. However this has been a fascinating and eye-opening thread.

I have been thinking lately around the undermining of the importance of nurture and care, how these are perceived as little more than jobs that you do when you're not fit for anything better, whether you are a SAHP, care assistant or childminder. How this undermining of the urge to nurture and be nurtured might be contributing to the growth of mental health issues over the last 3-4 generations. Medicating to control this dissatisfaction is a quick fix that makes money.

Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 10:14:05

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I think you've got a good point about the doom-spreading of the so-called 'elites', claig. That combined with the social perfectionism Getorf described (which I think is far more often prescribed to women- but that is just imho and as garlic notes, there are a fair few depressed men out there too) is a right old toxic cocktail.

I popped my 20mg citalopram and 200mg carbamazepine last night and felt a real qualm. Fear of what they're doing to me combined with fear of what sort of antisocial, angry monster I might become without them. A 3 day per week single parent cant' really afford 2 months or so of that.

Getorf, some of your post resonates with me. Since starting to take SSRIs 16 years ago I've developed OCD (including a horrible hairpulling habit which leaves me bald in places- nice) and a nasty form of chronic fatigue combined with agitation which I think is what led to the diagnosis of bipolar type II. I have never trusted their labels; I just wanted to feel I could manage, and in particular, be a better mother (I've often got low enough as to be unable to cope at all with them).

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 10:17:48

Very good point SindyTellsMe. Care is unimportant to the elites because they don't care for the people. They promote pessimism to the people and tell them that that id the way of the world. They say they can't make changes, that's just the way it is. But that's just the way they want it to be.

Why do we hear so many stories of elderly people being mistreated, and not even being fed and being dehydrated in hospitals, and yet no one ever seems to go to jail for this mistreatent. Animals are treated better, and they have organisations to fight on their behalf. But our elderly have little voice. Someone doesn't care.

btw Claig I am forever astonished at the clear intelligence of a woman who loves the Daily Mail!!! But that's a hijack and no doubt a point that's been made to you far too often :D

Ormirian Mon 27-Jun-11 10:20:50

"3 day per week single parent cant' really afford 2 months or so of that."

Who can! That is the problem. We have to be ON 24/7 and functioning at our best (or near enough!) At my worst I almost pray for a minor dose of flu to give me the excuse to switch off and catch my breath because illness is the only way to do it.

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Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 10:21:26

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claig Mon 27-Jun-11 10:23:41

Thanks, allegrageller. The Daily Mail is quite a sceptical paper, it doesn't blindly follow the official story. It is sceptical about climate change and often sceptical about drugs as well, and sceptical about what many politicians say. Its readership is the same.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

indeed; 'feminine' work is undervalued. And yet as GetOrf and I have been saying, go 'under par' for any amount of time and you are less than sh*t.

claig I sure hope you are right re. climate change as it's one of the many things that sends me into anxious fits...

Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 10:33:40

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Lovecat Mon 27-Jun-11 10:34:47

I've had episodes of feeling really depressed, bursting into tears for no apparent reason, feeling in a fog for pretty much all of my life in the few days pre-period each month. Over the years I found watching my diet and taking exercise was the best cure, although I tended not to realise I'd let things slip til I got depressed again iyswim.

I had a great GP who was very much against prescribing pills and after I had my then-worst depression after my younger brother's murder, sent me to an excellent therapist who did wonders for me. Although I had another bout of depression in the aftermath of DH's near-terminal illness and recovery, I had the tools to deal with it.

FFwd to DD's birth, and a number of factors (I'm sorry to say that they were all pretty much linked to DH's behaviour around that time, involving lack of support, expectations of immaculate house because I wasn't 'working' and other 'let's ignore our previous relationship and go back to the 1950's' shit) led to me having another bout of depression which was almost crippling. I couldn't do a thing, I kept bursting into tears all the time, I was constantly angry (looking back, with very good reason!) and when I eventually made myself go back to the GP, my lovely GP had retired and the new guy I saw could not have been more dismissive. He made me fill in a tick list (didn't actually talk to me at all), looked at it, said 'yes, you're depressed' and put me on 20mg of citalopram. I asked if there was an alternative, he said I should take the drugs and when I was in a better position then 'we'd see'.

I was desperate so I took the pills and although they stopped the crying jags and the anger, I felt like everything was damped down, I lost all sharpness of brain and was in a fog. Plus some nine months later the underlying problem was still there and I was beginning to cry/get angry again. I went back and said I didn't feel they were doing me any good, and that the issues that had led to the depression hadn't been addressed/explored and could I get some therapy, he literally rolled his eyes at me and said I probably needed to up my dosage if I still wasn't 'happy'!

At this point I decided to wean myself off the drugs. I have now been free of them for a year and feel a lot better. DH and I have had some frank discussions (!) and I am back to managing my 'issues' with diet and exercise - both of which have a marked effect on my mental health, I find.

Looking back, my depression was actually a perfectly healthy reaction to the situation I found myself in - which I won't bore you with! - but rather than try and explore that I felt the GP just wanted to shut me up and get me out of his office, and DH was in agreement with him...

I think modern life, with children, for an intelligent woman is conducive to depression, quite frankly.

SindyTellsMe Mon 27-Jun-11 10:34:50

Glad others agree about nurture being devalued.

Definitely a feminist issue for those women who care by default or by choice and are overlooked for it.

Also an issue for humanity - empathy & good mental health can be destroyed through lack of nurture. If we have socially isolated, economically disadvantaged women raising babies and being sneered at for it... it is going to take something magical to nurture those families well. I often worry about what happens to mothers and babies during those sometimes invisible early years.

I know other people will have developed these thoughts further so any book recommendations would be welcomed.

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Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 10:41:36

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SindyTellsMe Mon 27-Jun-11 10:48:58

Thanks Prolesworth.

GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 10:53:25

I have been referred to a psychiatrist, haven't heard anything yet. I did see a spychiatric nurse a couple of years ago, I was given a list of books to read hmm

That is quite unnerving about hormonal contraceptive. I was given the mirena when dd was about 2 months old (it was very new then) - I did suffer from hideous PND, but who knows if it was hormonal PND, a reaction to the mirena, or just a load of shit from my childhoos coming to the fore after having a baby so young. Who knows. I was on mirena for ten years. I don't use any contraceptive now - the pill has never agreed with me either.

That list of things I feel compelled to do above - I don't actually resent any of it tbh. However I am hideously competitive by nature - I feel that if I am not the best at everything I am a failure. That competitiveness has driven me on over the years, and I have always thought it was a good thing, however I am not looking at it as being a huge character flaw. Why does it matter if I am not the thinnest/most groomed/youngest looking/ball breakingly career minded person I know? Who gives a shit? I am like some ghastly UK version of Monica Geller grin

I so agree with you Orm that having physical illness is almost a relief, because you can take time out. How warped is that? I had a laparoscopy earlier this year because of abdominal pain, and then got MRSA infection and was generally unqwell. But I had 3 weeks off work! It was bliss.

I am hoping that my mental state will imporve because I have got a different type of job now, I am not working in a notoriously pressured work environment any more (automotive industry) and am working in the research enviornment. I feel that here I can put the brakes on for a bit and I don't have to be machiavellian at work in order to get on.

GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 10:55:46

meant to type 'however I am now looking at is as a huge character flaw'

forkful Mon 27-Jun-11 10:56:00

For an alternative view on depression plus info on drugs etc this website is great.

I have found feminist analysis comforting to understand my bouts of feeling low since having DS. Especially Wife Work and The Feminine Mystique. Is there such a thing as "Feminist Counselling"?

I find self hypnosis mp3s good.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

forkful Mon 27-Jun-11 11:03:29

GetOrf -have you heard of "black and white thinking/all or nothing thinking"? I suffer from that. Some of my hypnosis mp3s help with that and implant better messages into my brain.

Analogy from one of these I listen to: to move forward you don't need a perfect straight line - imagine a sailing boat zig zaging - it is moving generally to a destination but can wander off course and then steer back.

<btw are you still on the diet cokes grin I am hence remember your thread. Caffine and Aspartamine = not good for an even mood>

SindyTellsMe Mon 27-Jun-11 11:03:44

This is from Joan Tronto:

". One of the reasons in our society that people struggle so hard to make more money is to provide more of what they think of as these necessities to their families. Change can only occur if we radically imagine a societal structure that no longer requires that people compete against each other to make sure that their basic needs will be adequately met."

What she said!

I think this malaise is a large contributing factor to increased SSRI use - partly because people are desperate for relief, and partly because it's easier and more lucrative to make it about an individual's poor mental health.

GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 11:08:01

Yes still drinking lots of diet coke, have replaced a lot of it with fizzy water, but still have the urge to mainline bottles of it every day sad

<stands up> I am a coke addict

GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 11:08:41

Have never heard ofblack and white thinking. <goes off to google>

I am the queen of all-or-nothing thinking. If I'm not producing work today, I will NEVER do anything worthwhile. If I snap at the kids, I am the world's worst mother. If people are shirty with me, they must hate me for some reason...

I can't stand this side of myself tbh. I try to do the CBT trick with it: take time out from the situation and 'frame' it in your mind so you can come back to it later. When you do you usually find it isn't anything like as 'big' as it originally seemed. But doesn't work all the time with me I have to say.

Oh yes, and I despise myself for being depressive, anxious and not 'appreciating what I have'. (People have often told me this actually: you have so much, wy are you depressed? And then I think, well I must be a shit ungrateful person as well. Depression really does a number on a person....)

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 11:39:39

Really interesting (and moving) thread.

Something I can't get straight in my mind is this: from what I've seen of mental health and doctors' attitudes (which I know is just a tiny snapshot), the response to women being depressed or having mental health problems seems to be both 'well, what do you expect? Of course you women get depressed!' and 'well, what have you to be depressed about?'. I'm really confused by it.

When I was at university I was having a bad time and got sent for counselling, and the attitude of both my GP and the psyche guy was that it was totally normal for me to be depressed and a mess (as if, well, that's what happens to women), and they mentioned my hormones a lot. And at the same time, I was meant to be talking about what might be upsetting me, which happened to be the fact my nice middle-class parents were actually pretty awful and scary, and I'd had an abortion and regretted it, and I was starting to drink far too much. And their attitude was a kind of bemusement: why would you be upset? You're a nice middle class girl at a good university, you should be happy! It made me feel guilty for ages, because - rightly or wrongly- the message I got was, yes, you're depressed but you deserve to be.

It took me a very long time to realize that actually women are just as entitled as anyone else to feel awful and seek help, and I do think that is utterly crap. I am sure it is a women's issue. I'm not trying to denigrate what men with mental health issues go through, but I can't really know about it: all I do know is I was made to feel as if my being a woman made me inherently sub-standard. I have all these hormones and irrational womanly feelings, of course my mental health will be a mess. That kind of thing.

I think we need far more research into women's bodies and women's experiences - honest research, not made-up rubbish. I think some medics lie through their teeth about what is happening to women because they know the situation is piss poor and instead of admitting there's a lot of work that needs doing, they want to pretend the problem is women expecting too much or being neurotic.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 11:40:44

This is a very timely thread as I just started SSRIs last week...


I have a load of theories as to why so many people are so bloody miserable generally, and agree as well that it is a feminist issue from the POV that it seems that many women have had to be subdued (sort of) to stay in the home with children. Now we have SSRIs, before that it was valium, before that it was booze, and drugs that were legal not so long ago like opium and morphine and all the rest.

TBH I do wonder whether things have changed - looking back to a time when lots of women weren't depressed - did it ever exist? Or is it a result of higher levels of diagnosis, and people no longer being able to self medicate so easily due to most drugs being illegal and the ones that aren't are less socially acceptable so far fewer people, and especially women, and especially mothers do them. (Thinking smoking and drinking to excess / drinking quite a bit regularly in there as well).

Interesting discussion.

I need to read the things in the link now don't I!

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 11:48:56

I think society has always been very good at making women's mental health issues into something separate from itself. It's hysteria, greensickness, saintliness, madness, possession, depression ... it must have come from outside or from women's sub-standard bodies, it couldn't possibly be that society is at fault.

Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 11:49:13

Message withdrawn

Lovecat Mon 27-Jun-11 12:02:01

While I was composing that humungous post loads of people got in there in between - and YES! I completely agree and recognise that feeling of 'not being good enough' and the all or nothing thinking... if I can't keep the house tidy I'm shit/have let my family down/am a terrible person...

And what Orm and others have said about physical pain/illness coming as a relief - I have just come down with a heavy cold (having been soaked to the skin on Wed & Fri doing school-related parent support shite in the pouring rain) and am sitting in work thinking - I just have to do this one report, everyone has seen me/said how ill I sound, so then I can go home without guilt and be ill and it feels like bliss... which can't be good, can it?

PrinceH, Proles, thanks smile

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 12:29:54

Sorry, I'm unable to engage with at least half the posts here due to misconceptions, prejudices and scaremongering expressed therein.
The issue as a whole is important, though, and is relevant to wider feminist debates.

Mental illnesses are defined by society. If there were no need to live within a social structure, there'd be no mental 'illness'; you could just bumble along in your dysfunctional way and it wouldn't matter (or nobody would care.)

In other times - and, still, in other places - schizophrenics were revered as visionaries. The personality-disordered forged positions of strength, even when that led to their gaining mandates to murder and/or being tortured for their 'demons'. The depressed and confused were exorcised.

The rise in mental illness is, in large part, due to improvements in the relevant sciences. This may be driven by the increasing demands laid on us by our increasingly crowded societies -probably is. But the sciences are leading to more understanding and far more compassionate treatments.

Not too long ago, attempted suicide was a crime not a symptom. Mental disorders were treated with lifetime imprisonment, frontal-lobe removal (lobotomy), trepanning (drilling holes into the brain), scalding, isolation and electric shocks to the head. It's interesting to re-read history, and classic writings, in the light of current knowledge about mental illness.

It's incorrect to say nothing is known about the physiology of mental illness. I'm still suffering the long-term physical effects of a breakdown: I know exactly how this occurred, thanks to my doctors. Since I became ill, biopsychology has risen. I try to keep abreast of it for obvious reasons. The detailed PET scanner (ECAT exact HR) only appeared in 1995; the speed with which helpful information becomes available is something I find very heartening.

It's also incorrect to say SSRIs induce 'tolerance' or addiction. They don't. Rather than introducing 'happiness' to the body's system, they slow down the re-absorption of serotonin and/or other neurotransmitters in the brain. This makes more of the serotonin - naturally produced by the body - available to the brain, thus improving neurological function. The drug continues to do this for as long as necessary; the body continues to produce its own serotonin as before.

It is true, as others have noted, that women tend to take more responsibility for their own health, so women self-report for treatment more often than men. At the Priory, they told me about twice as many men came in under section as women - but more of the patients were women. That demonstrates (anecdotally) two things: women are more likely to self-refer for treatment; more women are in treatment. It doesn't at all show that more women are mentally ill.

Right, have to go and ... sort out my prescription and do some more harassment for another course of therapy!!

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 12:36:21

garlic, sorry, I don't really follow what you are saying. You're saying without society it would be ok if people were mentally ill - why? Why would that be ok? confused

I must be missing something.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 12:40:48

Sorry, for being obscure, LRD! Have to be quick - the very concept of mental illness is societal. Mentally healthy means "able to live comfortably in one's social environment". If you lived all alone, it wouldn't matter what you thought or how you felt; you'd just be 'you' iyswim? Your psychology would be your personality, simple.

This has been much better put by others. Haven't time to find references for you.

GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 12:41:58

brilliant posts LRD.

Proles - I know it is daft talking about Friends on such a thread but Monica IS me. She is a brilliantly drawn character - even the bits which are exaggerated for effect (when playing Pictionary "remember put the lids back ON the pens, organised is fun, organised is gooood").

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 12:44:00

Sorry, double-posting, but what do you mean by this:

'The personality-disordered forged positions of strength, even when that led to their gaining mandates to murder and/or being tortured for their 'demons'.'

Is that really 'forging a position of strength'? Do you think these people consciously used their mental illness this way? I can't really understand how but maybe that's because I don't know the situation you're thinking of.

Something that does seem odd to me - and I may be off-base here - is, look at the way Simon Baron-Cohen theorizes Autism: he says it's a form of extreme 'male brain', as if to say when maleness interacts with mental illness it's a kind of by-product of something really good. That seems uncomfortable when you look at the way things like PND are demonized. Does anyone else find that uncomfortable?

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 12:45:43

garlic, I'm sorry, I don't buy that. It doesn't make sense. We've evolved in communities for far longer than we've been conscious of things like mental health, surely? So to consider someone who's outside society is to take an anomaly and use it as a base example - that's going to skew any conclusion you draw.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 12:46:25

SB-C has done some very good woek but is a sexist twit. IMO.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 12:47:14

Thanks GetOrf. I'm mostly being confused here, so if you like the posts that's nice! grin

I get so angry about some of this stuff.

GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 12:51:41

LRD grin I was referring to your 11.39 post (before the confusion) grin

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 12:52:52

Personality-disordered people don't consciously use their condition, they are not conscious of having a condition. Aggressive Cluster-B disorders (haven't checked DSM; I mean things like psychopathy and NPD) lead them to behave convincingly as strong leaders. Lots of examples in history, lots of discussion in internet.

... and I have "LATENESS" disorder!!!

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 12:55:29

LRD, neurotransmitters are hormones. Docs may not have been saying what you heard ...

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 12:56:42

Right ... so how can they be forging a position of strength then?! That's what I didn't get.

GetOrf ... I was still pretty confused then. It's my little feminine mind, you know ..

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 13:04:43

Cross-post, sorry.

They were saying that I would be hormonally all over the place because my body had to get used to not being pregnant any more. I don't think they were wrong, but it annoyed me they acted as if this were an answer, rather than part of the problem. It was also a couple of years after I had the abortion so I really didn't follow and said so, but they kept coming back to this. It was as if they'd do anything to make it into some kind of physical problem that shouldn't upset me, if that makes sense?

It is just an example but I felt they made it very clear that if I was having a bad time, it was me dealing badly with being a woman, and I should learn that these things just happen to women. My GP also told me that he had extensive experience and knew that women only get upset by abortion if they already have mental health issues and want something to blame - how that squared with 'its' your hormones' I don't know, but I think you'd struggle not to see that as a misogynistic thing to ssay.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 13:14:41

LRD, it might be easier to understand what I meant about people achieving status through their mental condition if I'd simply used the old-fashioned term "mad". When you absolutely believe you're stronger, cleverer, more powerful than everybody else ... most people will accept your self-definition. For those who don't accept it, you have an arsenal of manipulative and abusive tactics at your disposal.

Improved understanding of such conditions helps to protect us from such people (and to have more compassion for the vulnerable end of personality disorders.) Small example: this is why we strive to help some posters in Relationships grasp that their controlling partner will never see reason, purely because he can't.

I dare to suggest it's startlingly naive to say you can't see how mental 'illness' is a societal construct. Again, maybe it's easier to just say "mad"? If you suddenly took to running around the High Street wearing nothing but body paint, screaming hysterically and insisting you could fly - you would be mad. But, if you did the same at an Amazonian native party, you'd be respectfully viewed as gifted.

Before you ask, yes I am "mad" - at least, I was when I broke down! Am getting better, thanks to the drugs & therapies variously demonised on this thread.

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 13:21:41

Disabeld mentally ill is a wode term that in the UK covers such things as autism as well.

Anti p[sychiatry is an extremely intersting viewpoint (Laing etc) which I have a lot of symptahy with and I ompltely accept the link between this and feminism with a few caveats:

it's well known in the UK that men under rpesent: therefore there are more mentally ill men about just not seeing ttheir GP: men underpresent generally

Depression when serious can be fatal. DH trid to kill himself, a friend lost both her son and brother in under a year. I absolutely support the notion that drugs etc can be replaced by non harmful alternatives, and NICE suggest combining approaches for effectiveness, but wanted to pint out that in some cases drugs save lives. Including DH's.

I saw how DH's health collpased with teh wrong meds and absolutely agree there is much to be learned as long as appreopriate medication is not demonised. I had antid's dished out to me in myn early twenties when I was just working shifts and exhausted, that's wrong, but decent MH services should be much easier to access generally (DH only has counselling now as he is a student and uni provides it)

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 13:24:27

garlic, I said that mental illness is socially constructed - I objected to the way society likes to define mental illnesss as something with origins outside itself. That doesn't mean that it is helpful to imagine that a person without a society (if such a person could be imagined) would be unable to suffer mental illness - to me, that seems damagingly close to the 'it's all in your head therefore it's Not Real' argument.

I don't really see why talking about 'madness' helps either.

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 13:28:19

GArlic that's only true of certain levels. In the UK autism is classed as a MH isue treated by psychs; severely asd people are not going to 'bumble along'; I;ve worked with people in severe MH units that would be dead or have killed someone.

Absolute;y there is a societal definition element to the lower rungs of MH dx but there were always people with MH who were locked up, dead or killed. The unit I trained in (don't nurse now, no axe, hated it so didn't complete) was the old Victorian type with a few remaining residents who ahd dared to get pg at 16 and unmarried, or had a small visible deformation. Clearly not MH but that was how they were defined then.

A large part of teh rise now though is due to our knowledge of things like asperger's, where people have often ended up with other disorders (depression, eating disorders etc) and that can be prevented with decent early input now. That is, IMO, a hugely good thing. Why let teh fact that it is societally defined block us (I am in the field but also have two asd kids and a lot of AS signs myself) from upping life chances early on?

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 13:32:45

peachy - I'm glad you posted, I didn't understand the idea that mentally ill people would 'bumble along' if only they weren't in society, either. Sure, society gives us a name and a way of understanding what 'mental illness' is, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't exist outside society, does it?

Stropperella Mon 27-Jun-11 13:42:17

The severely depressed will not "bumble along" wherever they are. They generally end up dead unless they get treatment.

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 13:43:49

Increasingly MH issue4s are fund to have genetic root causes so clearly not.

The symptoms often manifest outside of the norms of society true but the norms often exist for areason. We wear a coat in winter becuase we don;t want to catach ill and die; we don;t have manic highs and low becuase that is often incompatible 9at teh severe end) with mainatining an income or family life; we don;t starve ourselves to death or donate all our clothes to a nearby homeless person becuase...

yet these things happen a lot with MH.

And whilst yes they can be seen as 'quirky' if wanted they also can have very real negative effects, and more so when combined with other symptoms.

That doesn;t mean it never happens that something is only societal- take hysteria from the Victorian days. 'How dare you ahve an opinion woman, accept this label of mental illness NOW'- but generally teh symptoms of properly diagnosed MH issues are incompatible with safe, happy living at a level that is fulfilling to the individual.

Not always; and it's not always for the person with the MH dx to change- ds1 can function (usually) fine within his diagnosis of Asperger's if adaptations eg in school are amde, indeed he is now excelling academcially with proper trained input. but often. And without AD's a lot more people would likely be dead becuase suicidal depression is a killer, societally created my arse- it's a terminal disease.

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Mon 27-Jun-11 13:48:54

I know the thread has moved on alot since the original post.

I have typed a long response 3 times and can't word things how I want them so just want to say thanks for this thread.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 13:49:21

No, Peachy, I wouldn't want to see ANYTHING block progress in the understanding & compassionate treatment of mental disorders! Agree with everything else you wrote, too.

LRD, I apologise for the confusion. I have failed to adequately explain my point and why I feel it's so important to us as a society, as individuals and as women. It's probably a much longer discussion - which I've had elsewhere, so won't burden this thread with it.

I've now seen your post about your student/depression/doctor experience and am sorry you ended up seeing a patronising git. Unfortunately, doctors (including psychiatrists) vary tremendously in their comprehension of the issues that lead to mental illnesses, and in their manner of treatment. It's a double-bind because, when you are vulnerable, you're in a poor position to take an assertive stance. I've met some dickheads that way, too.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 13:52:28

I remember reading about so-called 'wild children' that people once thought were brought up by animals - I guess that's the idea of a 'person outside society' - and people now think those children were perhaps mentally ill and had been abandoned by families no longer able to ccope. Very sad, if true.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 13:53:47

Cross-post: garlic, no need to apologize - I'm not the best at expressing myself when I'm still thinking through an issue, and this is certainly one where I need to do a lot of thinking!

MooncupGoddess Mon 27-Jun-11 13:58:33

All so interesting.

Joan of Arc is the classic example of garlicnutter's original point, isn't she -an uneducated French peasant girl leading the French army because the voices she heard were seen as coming from God in her society. Now she'd probably be on a cocktail of anti-psychotics.

Also, has anyone seen the Jon Ronson book The Psychopath Test - apparently lots of political and business leaders fit the definition of psychopaths, and are so successful because they have no scruples.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 14:02:27

I dunno ... I think saying that about someone like Joan of Arc is reducing a complex society to one-dimensional caricatures, tbh. In the same way I have liberal squeamishness about saying someone we'd consider mad would be considered inspired by Amazonian jungle folk.

pixielovescake Mon 27-Jun-11 14:05:50

"there is much to be learned as long as appreopriate medication is not demonised. I had antid's dished out to me in myn early twenties when I was just working shifts and exhausted, that's wrong"

I agree with Peachy, I take prozac and have been on and off it for a long time ( i chose to stop it am now back on it for good.) and i wasnt even aware the chemical imbalence theory might not be true as the medication helps me so much im not sure i could be this well otherwise.
some drugs are given out to often but for some people like me they are needed and they DO work. I can feel it within 2 weeks let alone 6.
Im just not sure its easy to know which drugs will work for which people. im very lucky that they work for me and i have hardly any side effects at all. It like something i was missing before is there now.
Can anyone tell me anymore about the chemical imbalence theory being erm total rubbish ? Fairly simply as im not feeling very interlectual today wink

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 14:17:26

LRD, I've seen this in the Amazon! I've also participated in many "voodoo" ceremonies where states of consciousness are altered to something like psychosis - I even did it myself once; got 'possessed'. It was fun!

Consciousness is a continually fluid, highly flexible quality. It doesn't respond to political correctness wink

And neurotransmitters/hormones - while still only partially understood - are what links our minds to our bodies. All of our experience is mediated by them. It's a really interesting subject ...!

mooncup, thanks for that smile I was a bit scared of referencing Joan of Arc, even though she's an outstanding example.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 14:21:05

I'm not disputing you've seen it ... I'm saying drawing that conclusion makes me uncomfortable. I may be wrong. It just comes across like a form of taking advantage - like those awful Tintin plots where the White Boy turns up with his amazing ability to kill the sun by predicting an eclipse, you know? The fact that they know less than we do about science ... that's a reason to set up schools, nothing else. Imo.

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 14:21:30

Moondog absolutely and that's why it has to be addressed at the individual level.

After all one person's Joan Of Arc Style Psychosis might be the next person's potential suicide cause (mind, Joan didn't have access to Nukes either: do we want people with MH issues in charge of warfare nowadays? )

Pixie AFAIK chemical imbalance is still favoured in some cases but it varies, people have MH issues because of genetic differences (think ADHD and corpus callosum damage), reactive disorders, different causes. Also we know lots of little bits of the jigsaw- we know that a parent with depressive illness (esp. bipolar) is more likely to have a child with ASD or ADHD (there's research about to suggest that) but we don't know why. It could be the parent ahs aspects of the genetic profile of teh child with the disorder that causes or manifests as depression, could be that depression will one day be known to be part of the genetic group currently known as ASD but expanding, could be becuase they were parented by someone on the spectrum and unsupported- who knows? [answer: nobody, yet])

MH is in reality to vague a term to make any real answers. We already know a lot thought of as odd a few eyars ago is genetic, presumably we will know far more over the next few decades. ATM my advice would be if you cannot cope or your illness causes suffering to oothers then get help, and if the help you are given does not work keep trying.

Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 14:22:12

Message withdrawn

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 14:23:18

I mean ... with Joan of Arc quite a lot of people just thought she was mad. Not possessed or divinely inspired: just mad. And those who did claim she was divinely inspired - how much was that a political motivation? That's the sort of thing that bothers me. I reckon unless there's a very good reason to take what another society says about mental illness at face value, we should probably assume it's just as complex to them as it is to us.

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 14:25:16

Garlic Nutter I guess my concern is that people take what you say- and yes, I agree that consciousness / suggestability are incredible- and then extrapolate that to all people with an MH diagnosis.

Case by case is all that works. And looking for root causes and not just medicating..... but equally not wriitng off medication if needed. Without meds I would not now be amrried to DH without a doubt; it was tortuous, really nightmarish. Meds kept our marriage going, and counselling is very slowly helping him be properly well again (his seems to be a combination of chemical hereditary issues, with a horrible childhood (OCD anorexic mohter) and it worsened when or boys were dx'd with asd so reactive too.

pixielovescake Mon 27-Jun-11 14:27:07

Ah thanks Peachy thats given me a bit of insight. I might do a little further reading this sort of thing interests me.

it's a complicated issue. just because somethin works no better than placebo, doesn't mean it doesn't work. the placebo effect is called that because there is one -- the placebo effect can be seen working every day in homeothapy, acupuncture, reflexology etc etc etc.

people who are listened to attentively and sympathetically, and prescribed a treatment do feel better, even if the treatment is sugar pills.

But it would be unethical (nowadays) for a doctor to prescribe sugar-pills, noing them to be ineffective in themselves, but it is ethical for the doctor to prescribe SSRIs. so that's what will happen.

Prolesworth Mon 27-Jun-11 14:38:23

Message withdrawn

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 14:42:32

Proles if certain people aren;t given the meds they will kill themselves; in those cases SSRI's are the elast abd option becuase long term harm depends on a person having a long term.

I am all for careful prescription and masses more research but not demonising the corect meds for the person when needed.

What is actually needed is for lots more decent psych care and patient support but that won't happen in this economy, DH never saw a Psych in ten eyars of illness. So, it was SSRIs or suicide.

you might think it more ethical, and so might I, and in the 1950s that sort of patrician, doctor knows-best approach was normal,

But nowadays patients can't be lied to and a doctor who told his patient she was getting a prescription for anti-depressants, but actually gave her sugar-pills would certainly be struck off.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 14:43:35

I happen to agree with you about schools, etc, LRD, but it still illustrates the point that different societies determine mental illness according to their own mores.

Was Hitler sane? It wasn't strategically necessary to kill that many people, and was a piss-poor economic decision. But it suited the values of the society he wished to manipulate. How did Rasputin gain such power? I'd say he definitely had a mental disorder, by our standards, but it served him well. What Peachy says about men in position of power having psychopathic traits is spot-on and, as research continues, is becoming truer all the time.

As I've said, I'd be dead without SSRIs. Until 1961, my suicide would have been illegal. Had I failed, I may have been imprisoned. My family and I would have been shunned. At that time, also, children with learning difficulties or physical disabilities were deemed ineducable due to "feebleness of mind".

It's easy to criticise what we have now, forgetting how quickly we're still learning. There's a quick history here.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 14:45:10

Here's something about personality & personality disorders: psychcentral.com/personality/

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 14:57:18

We must always ask questions and be sceptical. Peachy and garlicnutter, don't you believe that in some cases some of these medications can cause suicide and harm? Have you read Dr. Breggin and the legal cases he defended? What about the 10 year old who hung himself? Do you think it had nothing to do with his medication for ADHD? The experts aren't unfallible.

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 14:57:50


MooncupGoddess Mon 27-Jun-11 15:04:14

LRD - yes, Joan of Arc is a complex (and interesting) case in lots of ways and one shouldn't over-simplify. But I was just making the point that societies' understanding of mental illness is relative - today we would understand her behaviour in quite a different way from (at least some of) her contemporaries. I'm not at all saying that we are right and they were wrong.

There's a very interesting book by Richard Bentall called Madness Explained which looks at how different mental illnesses are diagnosed in different periods and different societies. He makes the point that (unlike for physical illnesses) for mental illnesses there is no such thing as a defined and reliable symptom list that maps neatly onto precise diagnoses.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 15:14:33

There's not historically been a defined and reliable syptom list for physical illnesses, either, though. confused

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 15:14:37

Claig - I absolutely think it's inappropriate for children to be medicated for behavioural difficulties.

All the SSRI-related suicides I've read about in adults may also be explained by not having yet arrived at the correct medication or dose for that patient, or by premature withdrawal of the meds. There were also several where it turned out the patient was self-medicating on top of the prescription drugs.

As Dittany said, antidepressants need to be reduced very slowly, with the possibility of re-escalating the dose always in mind. Some GPs fail to appreciate this - I've had to argue with some - but that's due to their lack of knowledge, not the drugs themselves.

That Bentall book sounds interesting, MC!

Stropperella Mon 27-Jun-11 15:21:21

There are other ADs - you don't have to take SSRIs and they simply don't suit everyone. They do not suit me, but another type of AD does, thankfully.

GetOrf Mon 27-Jun-11 15:24:28

Has anyone else taken SNRIs (venlafaxine) and thought they were completely personality altering?

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 15:24:51

Useful and necessary to question what we have now, yes. No-one has said we've got all the answers; even the professionals work in an atmosphere of continual learning. I am sure we're making mistakes now. But I think it's unhelpful to approach the issue from the pov that, if it's not perfectly effective, it is wrong.

I'm doubtless a bit hobby-horsey about the issues on this thread, having been surrounded by untreated mental illness for much of my life and, subsequently, been faced by streams of people telling me SSRIs are bad, therapy is bollocks, etc, etc.

I was dismayed, on another Feminism thread, by somebody's dismissal of my opinion beginning with "The trouble with therapy and things like that ...". I don't know who said it, or if they're also on this thread. I hope not! A person with so little comprehension of the human mind cannot be expected to have an informed opinion on mental illness or its treatment.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 15:34:36

Dittany and Allegra - going back to the beginning of the thread, re withdrawal: I'm currently on 225mg of venlafaxine: a high dose, but half of what I was taking five years ago. It does have to be done very gently and with careful monitoring. I did it too fast a few times, and had to go up again until I felt more comfortable with myself/life. Regular therapy is really helpful with this: not only for working towards a resolution for the underlying problems, but also in having an experienced professional to help evaluate your state wrt the meds.

Tbh, I don't mind if I end up taking some venlafaxine for the rest of my life. It's better than living in darkness & pain.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 15:43:52

prolesworth (sorry about this, can you tell I'm now reading thread throroughly?) - You may be pleasantly surprised by your therapist! They mostly love to discuss politics. It's hardly unrelated to one's lived experience, is it grin

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 15:45:28

Is there such a thing as "Feminist Counselling"?

Yup. Very many psychotherapists, especially female ones in the NHS, work from a feminist perspective smile

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 15:48:33

To several posters ...
This is a really good, free, online CBT course:

If it helps, that might inform your thoughts on whether to seek one-to-one counselling.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 15:48:49

I did seem to have a hypomanic response to prozac initially. I now wonder if my innate bipolar tendencies were set off by it. However, as I have been diagnosed with bipolar II which reads like a bit of a catch-all for 'moody cantankerous cow', I am suspicious even of that particular category.

I don't quite see my pre-SSRI life as 'darkness and pain' after which the light came in. My response to SSRIs seems to have 'pooped out' and left me with a lot fo twitchiness and a nasty withdrawal syndrome which sends me running back to them, not to feel good but to feel less bad.

thanks for CBT link garlic. I find CBT techniques invaluable. I found psychodynamic counselling far too painful with no actual catharsis.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 16:28:12

One more personal message (if I haven't toally killed the thread) - GetOrf, I'm very sorry to hear you've been through such trials. Having read that makes me even more impressed by your continued humour on these boards!

SSRIs can exacerbate bipolar, and other conditions where your mood is not stable. Serotonin Syndrome is that thing you sometimes get when you start on them - feeling "jumpy inside", lightheaded & spaced out. With 'straight' depression, it evens out once you get the right prescription. But, when your condition is cyclical, the serotonin syndrome will make you feel worse as the down cycle recedes - if you experience cycles shorter than several months, it will never get the chance to help your mood stabilise.

Since most bipolars first present with depression, SSRIs are likely to be prescribed. Then, when your state changes, the serotonin overdose effect will show up and that's when it becomes apparent you're not in a flat condition. Some people end up thinking the SSRI caused the bipolar but, unfortunately, it's just a case of wrong diagnosis.

I know nothing about meds for bipolar; I do know, however, that self-awareness wrt your mental state - and coping tools - are key to successful management. A knowledgeable counsellor will be able to help you enormously with that. I really hope you get a good one, and wish you the very best with it.

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 17:17:27

' don't you believe that in some cases some of these medications can cause suicide and harm?


Which is why I advocate a case by case appraoch, with no adherence either to the beleif that meds are a cure all, or that they are demonic.

they are right for some people. And I know I said I advocated that earlier on.

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 17:42:10

I think the articles that dittany linked to question the number of people that these antidepressants are right for.
'about 10 percent of Americans over age six now take antidepressants'
Is that right? Are the diagnoses accurate?

'The shift from “talk therapy” to drugs as the dominant mode of treatment coincides with the emergence over the past four decades of the theory that mental illness is caused primarily by chemical imbalances in the brain that can be corrected by specific drugs. That theory became broadly accepted, by the media and the public as well as by the medical profession, after Prozac came to market in 1987 and was intensively promoted as a corrective for a deficiency of serotonin in the brain. The number of people treated for depression tripled in the following ten years, and about 10 percent of Americans over age six now take antidepressants. The increased use of drugs to treat psychosis is even more dramatic. The new generation of antipsychotics, such as Risperdal, Zyprexa, and Seroquel, has replaced cholesterol-lowering agents as the top-selling class of drugs in the US.'

pointydog Mon 27-Jun-11 17:44:07

Glad I found this thread. I'm trying to work out what, if anything, I should do re someone with mh problems. I understand what yu're saying, garlic.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 17:47:50

When I got mine the other day the doc said "1/4 of the population are on these so you are in good company".

I guess she was exaggerating but presumably this means an awful lot of people are on these drugs.

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 17:53:30

1/4 of the population? Amazing. Which ones are they?

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 18:01:13

Great discussion.

The problem with SSRIs is that they are a treatment based on no scientific evidence.

The speculation is that depression is caused by low serototin, however there is no physical test that shows that a depressed person has lowered serotonin, and thus can be diagnosed with depression. As that second article shows, the psychiatric profession like the medical model, including the use of a lot of drug treatment, but these drugs are a shot in the dark.

Also we have serotonin receptors all over our bodies, not just in our brains. There part of our body that contains the most serotonin is our gut, where 95% of it is housed. Serotonin isn't just a mood neurotransmitter, it has a whole lot of functions, but these are ignored when people are prescribed SSRIs


I agree that modern life is designed to make women depressed. In fact I'd say that the patriarchy is designed to make women feel depressed (oppressed). If we started to design a society that would offer women the opportunities for maximum mental health it wouldn't look like this one.

pointydog Mon 27-Jun-11 18:04:20

And, based on fairly limited personal experience only, I am surprised some of you feel that depression i s more of a woman's problem.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 18:07:01

It's also a very good point about the possibility of a link between hormonal contraception and depression in women. Basically drug companies don't give a fuck about this. As long as the woman is there sexually available, and if she needs a few pills to get rid of the depression too, it's all good.

SSRIs when I was on them took away my orgasm, now that really pissed me off.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 18:09:07

We also need to look at the connection between rape, sexual trauma, sexual abuse, other forms of child abuse and depression in women.

Also women who are in violent relationships are sometimes suicidal and may make suicide attempts.

Why are they being given drugs, why aren't violent men being locked up?

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 18:09:09

'I agree that modern life is designed to make women depressed. In fact I'd say that the patriarchy is designed to make women feel depressed (oppressed). If we started to design a society that would offer women the opportunities for maximum mental health it wouldn't look like this one.'

Absolutely. I'd also say it is designed to make us feel we are not entitled to treatment for depression.

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 18:31:47

Totally agree about hormonal contraception; no woman in my family can take the pill for that reason- we all end up with terrible rages and depression.

However I would like to gently reiterate that the medication rates do not represent the whole p[icture: males are known to massively under present at GP clinics, and indeed suicidesa are higher in men IIRC. I suspect it's like crime stats: the official picture is the tip of the iceberg, and general thought certainly used to be that men were more under represented in the 'not rpesenting to a GP' picture.

MillyR Mon 27-Jun-11 18:33:54

Garlic, it might have been me who criticised your perspective on therapy, although I can't find the thread. I think it was in the context of you making out that mothers who don't leave situations of domestic violence because of very good reasons did not in fact have very good reasons and were suffering from learned helplessness.

I may have responded by saying that one of the problems with many types of therapy is that they fail to acknowledge the reality of people's situations, and instead make it all about self efficacy, motivation and so on, thus failing to recognise how powerless people are.

If it is this conversation you are referring to, I absolutely stand by what I said. I do think you misapply your therapeutic experiences to the behaviour of mothers attempting to protect their children by deflecting abuse on to themselves.

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 18:35:33

ANd whilst women are likely to be aused, that's part of DH's issues too.

You have to look wider though IMO.

So many of the roles women take are linked to depression; look at the stats for carers- very scary indeed, and teachers. There's scary stats for teachers on the Gove thread ATM. We (as in my field of study) also know that girls are massively under picked up for SLD (specific learning disability) and it's hypothesised many of the girls with anorexia ahve underlying ASD, and failure to diagnose and support SLD is related to depression later in life.

I do think patriarchy has a role but that's it part of the answer within a genuine medical condition.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 18:42:32

Its' good that you care about men Peachy, but this isn't a thread about them.

It is entitled Feminism and Mental health, and it's about looking at the subject from a woman-centred perspective e.g. as has been mentioned the connection between hormonal contraceptives and depression.

There are plenty of places where other viewpoints and approaches are taken with regards to mental health. In fact in the mainstream, in psychiatry a woman-centred approach is not taken.

This isn't just about "more women are depressed", this is about why more women are "depressed", why women's distress is medicalised and pathologised, what are the real causes of women's distress, and what do women need to be mentally healthy.

If people need a more general discussion where sex is not taken account of, maybe that could take place somewhere else, because it feels like a derailment here.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 18:43:36

I remember a thread on here where someone who had worked with female teenagers with extreme "behavioural problems" said that every single one had been sexually abused. That they had had this terrible trauma, and no-one was addressing that, instead they were saying these girls had "behaviours" that were problematical and were locking them up and drugging them. And no-one was confronting the "elephant in the room".

It was a very sad thing to read.

Zwitterion Mon 27-Jun-11 18:43:49

Fascinating stuff.

All I can offer is my own experience with mental health services, from adolescence to date. On the whole brilliant, and for me SSRIs, CBT and support has literally saved my life.

The only area that bothers me is the pathologisation (is that even a word?) of normal behaviours. So many times my behaviour, within normal realms, has been medicalised. If I've complained about treatment (basic customer care I've been accused of aggression.

I'm sure this happens to more women than men, because some behaviours are viewed as more 'feminine' than others.

Zwitterion Mon 27-Jun-11 18:44:31

Oops x post Dittany.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 18:44:43

It is difficult to match statistics to underlying conditions though, isn't it? I have an old book on Autism that says 1 in 10 people diagnosed with Autism is female - that number has gone up hugely, but still occasionally people mention having a struggle to get a daughter diagnosed because someone who ought to know better thinks Autism is a 'male' condition.

I'm sure there are examples to go the other way. But I do think women often get a very raw deal with mental health.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 18:45:48

Oops, big cross-post. blush

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 18:46:05

I remember that thread SardineQueen. It was absolutely horrendous.

You don't remember where it was do you, because it would be worth linking to this thread.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 18:48:13

It's hard to say though isn't it.

I think there are a mix of reasons that people become depressed, and a mix of treatments.

I'm not sure it's right to rule out something that seems to work just because no-one understands how. Although if what the people in those articles are saying is true then they don't work and that's another story.

eg someone upthread said they used to treat depression with "electric shocks to the head". They still do - although obviously they anaesthetise the patient first! No-one really knows how it works, but it does seem to work. And for those suffering from depression of a severity that means that they are unable to function at all and/or are suicidal - it's worth a shot?

I come from a viewpoint though that I'm someone who tends to trust the medical establishment and so my comments should be viewed from that angle.

In the meantime I am keen to see if these drugs make a difference....

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 18:49:53

claig earlier you asked which ones - I assume you mean which drugs? She didn't specify it was a throwaway comment on her part. She has prescribed me SSRIs. Will be interesting in the light of this thread to see what they do to me grin

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 18:50:43

dittany no I don't remember and can't remember the name of the poster, mores the pity

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 18:52:01

humperdink - how could they not?

I think that maybe as with low level sexual assault there is an idea that women have to put up and shut up and get on with it, unless something wildly outrageous happens to them.

Zwitterion Mon 27-Jun-11 18:52:06

I spent a long time in an adolescent unit. Most of the inpatients had been abused. Actually the HCPs there were quite surprised that I hadn't been.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiredlady Mon 27-Jun-11 18:58:27

Have been reading this thread with interest. There is very little evidence for the serotonin theory of depression. Just because drugs that replenish serotonin can help improve depressive symptoms doesn't mean that depression was caused by a lack of serotonin in the first place.

For example, if I feel a bit shy about going into a party where I don't know anyone, I may have a drink which will boost my confidence. This does not mean that my shyness was caused by a lack of alcohol.

The big drug companies are desperately trying to widen the diagnostic categories for mental illness - just look at the way bipolar, once an extremely serious illness, is now the diagnosis du jour, with all sorts of celebs having the "mild" form of it, that gets sorted out by a weekend in the Priory.

The medicalisation of normal emotions is worrying and dangerous. People get reduced to neurochemical imbalances and their story and narrative is all but ignored. And yes, I do think women will come off worse

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 19:07:11

LRD it's one in four now but that has taken a huge movement to get changed.

In America black people are under diagnosed, another group of reduced power.

However ASD females do often present differently: there's a theory about female groups being able to socialise their peers into ways of behaving that make it harder to pick up. Whereas boys are more likely to be delayed in deceloping communication anyhow so it would flag up more.

I am not sure on this; I think a lot of it is down to the fact that males are still seen as the ASD group, even with people like Temple Grandin and Donna Williams about: Baron-Cohen and his 'extreme maleness' being part of that.

But I also think there's an element that girls presenting with ASD symptoms are more llikley to be diagnosed with an eating disorder (not exclusively, DS1 has had treatment for anorexia), or depression, or BiPolar. but the movement to look into it all is absolutely there and there is a big ASD and girls conference coming up.

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 19:09:39

Tiredlady very true.

Although then you come back to if someone is suicidal or self harming then what works- works.

But absolutely have huge hmm for both pharma and their part in medicalisation, and also for the lack of availability of decent therapy in the NHS. Am sure CBT is great, but Dh really needed to talk through what his Mum did to him, and then subsequently the stuff around when the boys were diagnosed.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 19:10:42

Thanks for your courtesy in replying, Milly. I feel compelled to point out that this: many types of therapy fail to acknowledge the reality of people's situations, and instead make it all about self efficacy, motivation and so on, simply isn't true of psychotherapy. You're describing "feel-good therapies" and self-improvement techniques - which can, indeed, be helpful but not at all related to the self-examination and (sometimes agonising) truth-seeking entailed in 'therapy therapy'.

Now you've jogged my memory, I do remember giving up in despair over
what learned helplessness means. Somebody who'd done a module on it seemed to be trumping my 10 years of facing the problem in my own life - and in others', during group.

Thinking about my group therapy experiences, I can confirm - anecdotally, of course - that every single sufferer of mental illness, male and female, had a traumatic childhood behind them. Chicken, egg, habit or heredity; I don't know - but it's the reason I'm vociferous about removing children from emotionally high-pressured environments.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 19:22:54

No professional has ever told me that depression is caused by serotonin levels. What they have done is explained, in detail, how extended periods of stress lead to hormone imbalances - starting with the stress hormones and leading to a domino effect throughout the body systems. Too long to go into here, but searching on adrenal fatigue should yield some useful results.

Serotonin, noradrenaline and their sisters are only part of the network. It was found that slowing the re-uptake of these hormones yielded good results in depressed patients - and gave the neural system a nudge towards rebalancing the whole thing.

Perhaps it's more usual in the US to make a causal link? Not even my GP (who isn't very interested in MH) has suggested the serotonin effect = cause. As others have said, there are other types of antidepressants that work better for some.

As a quick aside, I've also been advised to take huge supplements of B-group vitamins. I do so, and notice a deterioration if I stop them for some time.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 19:23:20

I also think that if it works then it works, really, a kind of pragmatic view?

I am quite willing to believe that the problem is not a lack of seratonin in the first place, but that encouraging the brain to produce more or stop it being reabsorbed so quickly (so same effect) is going to perk up a lot of people. It's how ecstacy works and that undeniably has an effect on how people feel.

Interesting whether they may be long term effects in tampering with brain chemistry in this way... Who can say... Certainly I doubt the drug companies can say for sure either way.

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 19:30:46

SardineQueen, the drug comapnies do list the side effects in medical tomes that the public doesn't read. Check out Dr. Breggin's site. He goes into detail about the side effects. But bear in mind that he is in the minority and is not a fan of SSRI drugs.

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 19:34:01

There's something called low level depression which is thought to affect massive numbers of the population and is increasingly medicated; this seems to be related to diet (eg folate intake) but also IME to a gradual acceptance of poor housing / low income etc that has been medicalised but is cultural and that seems to be often treated with anti depressants. I'd far rather the money was spent on training, diets, housing, whatever.

OTOH there is a severe depression level where people lose their functioning and that needs to be treated with works best for the individual.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 19:34:15

claig they list the possible side effects and contra-indications in the leaflet that comes with the drugs.

What has that to do with what I posted though? grin [genuinely confused]

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 19:37:24

Sorry, I misunderstood this

"Interesting whether they may be long term effects in tampering with brain chemistry in this way... Who can say... Certainly I doubt the drug companies can say for sure either way."

I took it as meaning side effects. I think they are aware of many of them, but it isn't often talked about.

Do they list everything in the leaflet? I don't know.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 19:38:46

As to whether depression is a feminist issue - leaving aside the problems of single-pronged treatments - my view is that, if stress is a causal factor, then it logically will be skewed towards women. Now we know that feelings of powerlessness are a significant cause of long-term stress. We know that many women feel powerless - very probably, more so than men. That is a feminist issue.

There are many types of depression, though: not only reactive/endogenous, and those occurring as symptoms of another disease, but also depressions linked to certain events, such as grief ... and PND. As far as I'm aware, PND is a hormonally-triggered illness; is that right? If so, it's 100% a feminine issue but not, specifically, feminist iyswim.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 19:39:41

I meant that despite what they may claim, I doubt they have any idea about side effects of long term use, or even side effects that may appear years down the line after stopping taking the drugs.

Time will tell, with this many people on them.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 19:40:05

Leaflet covers everything from feeling wibbly to jumping off the roof. They have it all covered grin

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 19:41:15

Do they list everything in the leaflet?
They have to, these days. They also have very informative websites.
Obviously, nobody knows yet what the 20yr+ effects will be. I'm just glad I stand a better chance of being here to find out!

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 19:41:53

'There's something called low level depression which is thought to affect massive numbers of the population and is increasingly medicated'

How long before everyone is encouraged to take pills?

'But Professor Boyle said that the public would have to be persuaded of the benefits of mass medication.
"I don't think the general public is ready yet for a "get to 50, take a tablet" type of approach," he said.'

Some of the public is still sceptical, they're not yet ready to swallow the pills. There is still a lot of persuading to be done.


How long before they have aid concerts and ask for donations so that they can give drugs to the whole world?

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 19:43:10

'Leaflet covers everything from feeling wibbly to jumping off the roof. They have it all covered'

Good, then they have informed people of the risks.

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 19:44:21

'I doubt they have any idea about side effects of long term use, or even side effects that may appear years down the line after stopping taking the drugs.'

I think they probably do.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 19:44:24

My problems started with pregnancy, quite suddenly, so point to hormonal reasons.

But I am a bit dubious about saying that categorically, because of the huge lifestyle changes. Going from a hard drinking chain smoking out all the time party girl, with a reasonably lucrative job in town, to a married mummy with a baby, bit of lower paid part time work here and there and none of the excitement or stimulants (booze, fags, I gave them up) from my old life.

Who can say what is really the matter.

<pops pills>

This is the whole problem with this area isn't it. And nobody really knows the answers. A brain chemical imbalance is certainly much easier to handle than the alternatives.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 19:44:31

garlic, sorry, rather predictably, I'm putting my hand in the air ... I don't understand how PND is a 'feminine' but not 'feminist' issue?

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 19:45:08

Haha, when Prozac first came out I wished they'd put it in the drinking water!! That was before I became one of the pill-popping masses but, god, the difference it made to daily life! Everywhere, people who'd been miserable pains in the arse suddenly developed a cheerful attitude! It was great grin

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 19:46:37

LRD, because only women get it but it isn't caused by the patriarchy! (As far as I know)

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 19:48:44

I thought that women who suffered PND were often found to have factors like horrible partner, no support at home, no family nearby, traumatic birth experience etc etc etc going on ie not necessarily hormonal at all.

claig Mon 27-Jun-11 19:48:56

garlicnutter, it also led some to feel suicidal


garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 19:50:02

SardineQueen, do you know whether PND is equally prevalent in mums whose lifestyle hasn't changed dramatically? I'm too lazy to look it up.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 19:52:04

I didn't really want the govt to start doctoring the entire nation, Claig. It was just a flippant comment on what a miraculous (visible) difference it made at the time.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 19:52:12

Ah, I see. I don't think only things caused by the patriarchy are feminist issues though, are they? confused We'd be anti-patriarchists, or something, if that were the case, wouldn't we?

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 19:53:03

x-post, SQ. Ah. Thanks.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 19:53:54

garlic sorry no I read it on a thread on here <great referencing grin>

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 19:55:51

Well if we're examining PND from a feminist perpsective which is what this thread is about, we could look at:

birth trauma
the medicalisation of birth
the unnatural way that women give birth
the lack of support and close community from women after birth
the isolation of many new mothers

and examine what effects they might have on new mothers' mental health.

I'm pretty sure there is also a correlation between PND and unsupportive male partners, I'll see if I can find a study.

I don't really understand why people have joined this thread if they don't want to talk about feminism, and don't want to use feminist analysis to examine this. There's actually a whole mental health section at Mumsnet which as far as I know is a place where feminist analysis isn't used.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 19:55:59

Feminists believe in equality. So, yeah, maybe we should see to it that more men and childless people get PND grin

<oops, I'm childlessly depressed>
<shrugs, pops pills>

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 20:00:09

Actually, Dittany, I'm unable to divorce the problems of stress & depression from questions of societal pressure, which obviously include feminist issues while not being limited to them.

Is it always possible, do you think, to label one aspect of a problem 'feminist' while ignoring wider factors?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 20:04:15

Normally feminist analysis and a woman-centred approach are ignored in approaches to mental health. Mainstream medicine, which is what is being addressed here doesn't take them into account.

As I said, this is one place where we can redress that balance. Or maybe you feel that even a small amount of feminist analysis is too much.

Like I said, I don't understand why people joined this thread if they aren't interested in feminist analysis. It's pretty clearly marked what it's about.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 20:12:54

I'd suggest this thread has attracted more robust posts from women with knowledge of mental health issues. In the MH forum, you have to be fairly circumspect because of the fragility of some readers.

I think that's a good thing. Taboos on mental illness are still strong, as are preconceptions about women's propensity to seek treatment for depression.

I'd estimate that around 70% of my therapeutic work has been feminist-based. The implications of being a woman for mental health are real, complex and profound. I don't, however, see (yet?) that attacking antidepressant medication can be convincingly framed as a women's issue.

Perhaps this is why you felt frustrated with the turn your thread had taken? It became a discussion of how depression is treated, as that was the thrust of your OP.

pointydog Mon 27-Jun-11 20:14:54

Because people can join any thread they want and raise whatever issues they want. It's not uncommon.

Sunshinetoast Mon 27-Jun-11 20:17:18

This thread has reminded me of the experience of a relative who died recently.

During the war she had some sort of breakdown. I'm not sure what caused it, nobody now alive in the family is sure, but she ended up in a psychiatric hospital. My uncle who visited her there as a small boy talked about his sense that the (male) doctors had little understanding of her need for care as opposed to treatment. At one point there was a suggestion she should be given a lobotomy but my grandfather managed to stop his father (also her father) from signing the consent form.

She spent large parts of her life as far as I can see on some pretty serious medication. Although from memories of older relatives there were obviously times when she was better and times when she was worse. My earliest memories of her were of a silent shuffling woman who said very little and didn't really engage with family gatherings. Someone would collect her from where she was living and bring her along and she would fairly quickly fall asleep in the corner.

Not many years ago she got a new GP who reviewed her medication and decided to wean her off many of the drugs she was on. She was a transformed woman - chatty, engaged, interested in people around her. It was such a shock to all of us to realise that so much of what we thought was her, was actually the drugs she was on. I don't think anyone had reviewed her case for years, just kept prescribing the drugs.

It just felt like such a wasted life, to see what she could have been only when she was in her eighties.

I'm not sure how this relates to mental health today - I don't know if therapy would have worked better for her, or if she would now be prescribed different, better drugs. But I wish we had realised sooner.

MillyR Mon 27-Jun-11 20:20:07

Garlic, I'm not referring to self help or feel good therapies. I'm referring to government funded CBT and MET for substance misusers and people who self harm.

Clearly the person who knows most about your personal experiences is you, and I don't know who had done the module on learned helplessness, but I think your personal experiences and the fact that you are happy with the range of medication and therapy offered to you is not a reflection on the experiences of many other women. Problems stemming from childhood can be worked through with a client, which is why therapists seem to like them. What therapists like less is the problems other people are causing the client now because resolving those problems involves society offering women actual concrete and financially costly help, not just a bit of therapy or some pills.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 20:22:13

Chemical cosh they call it don't they, to keep people subdued.

Like happened to all those girls in that children's home and they went on to have children with birth defects....

I'll try and find a link in case anyone isn't familiar with that story.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 20:23:38

here terrible story

It's all linked, I think.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 20:24:40

I don't read this thread as an attack on anything - but rather people voicing concerns they've backed up and want to consider from a feminist perspective. Surely that is different from attacking? Imo, if you are a feminist,, one of the things you do automatically when you start to think aboout an issue is to think 'wait a minute, how does this square up with my feminism?'

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 20:28:15

Mine was to sunshine.

It's good that your relative had some years of being herself at the end. Terrible it happened in the first place of course.

Sunshinetoast Mon 27-Jun-11 20:28:57

LRD -agree. I see everything through a feminist perspective. Doesn't mean that it is my only perspective but certainly anything to do with how human beings relate to each other and their situation is at least in part to do with gender roles and relations.

Mental health problems for many people are at least in part to do with their situation and the roles expected of them, as are the way mental health problems are treated. Having said that I think there are other things going on too - mainly to do with capitalist consumer culture

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 20:33:06

Yes, I have been very well treated - in between long periods of dismissal. The NHS mental health team helped me get out of an abusive situation, rehoused and somewhat stabilised. It's a mistake to say practical assistance isn't offered though, of course, it is far too hard to come by.

I'm going to have to take a break from this as can hardly read the screen now, even though I've embiggened it! But those of you who assume psychologiy & psychotherapy ignore feminist issues are doing the profession a huge disservice. Huge.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 20:35:40

This thread isn't just about anti-depressant medication Grace.

Please read both the articles referenced in the first post. It's an overview.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 20:36:45

sunshine I missed your post about your relative - that's such an awful story. sad

I cannot help wondering how often the fact that women were 'meant' to be less angry and more passive than men led to unnecessary treatment. Not a mental health issue, but something I can't stop remembering when I'm reading this thread is the story of a woman (in the 20th century, note) who was considered 'unnatural' by her parents because as a small child she showed 'inappropriate behaviour'. She was taken for an operation and only realized many years later that what had been happening was that as a small child she'd been masturbating and so they operated to remove her clitoris. That's what passed for 'correcting' unsuitable, unfeminine behaviour.

MillyR Mon 27-Jun-11 20:37:12

There are clearly people working in mental health who are working from a feminist perspective. But there are also some very troubling traditions within mental health services, and in fact wider medical care, that seem to be making women worse.

Sunshinetoast Mon 27-Jun-11 20:39:22

Sardinequeen - just read your link - that is terrible.

A friend of mine worked with people who were being moved out of psychiatric hospitals in the early 90s (part of care in the community) and said that there were several people who had been there all their lives and no one really knew why they had first been admitted or what was supposed to be wrong with them. after a lifetime of being in an institution they weren't really able to cope outside.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 20:40:31

SardineQueen, I hope you don't mind if I quote from that story:

"Sedation link' to birth defects

Hundreds of girls heavily sedated in UK care homes during the 1970s and 1980s may be at risk of having children with birth defects, the BBC has found.
Radio 4's Today found 10 ex-residents of a children's home run by the Church of England in Gravesend, Kent, have had children with a birth defect.
They were given massive doses of tranquilisers and other drugs while being restrained as teenagers."

That is just horrendous.

Doctors were prescribing these drugs. How could they possibly have justified it to themselves?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sunshinetoast Mon 27-Jun-11 20:46:12

I think there is something about women being 'supposed' to be co-operative and obedient - when they are not the reaction can be extremely severe.

I've been thinking about the Marge Piercy novel 'women on the edge of time' in relation to this - there is a lot in there about gender and mental health, Maybe time for a re-read

Ormirian Mon 27-Jun-11 20:57:15

Ha! My fav book sunshine grin Always banging on about it on here...

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 20:58:16

PH that is awful. sad

I really think we need to know more about things that specifically affect women, I think this is a huge feminist issue. It's no good saying 'all women get the menopause and it is shit' or 'women give birth and it is always painful' - we need to know why and how to make it better. Instead the attitude seems to be, why bother trying to fix something so fundamentally hopeless as the female body? Think how long it too to get something simple like teenage girls becoming anemic because they were bleeding too much sorted. People knew about the pill for years before they'd prescribe it to teens needing a way to stop the bleeding. Before that, people knew about tampons but wouldn't give them to teens because of a fucked up idea about virginity. There's an anecdote Xinran tells about going somewhere where women bled onto pads of leaves; she gave them sanitary towels and next day found the men had appropriated them to wipe their sweaty foreheads on.

I mean, how can we excuse knowing so little about women's bodies and women's experiences? Isn't it wrong to say these things are not feminist issues?

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 21:00:02

Just found my bookmark to this short article. I don't know anything about the author, but had saved it because it summarises some of the issues highlighted on the thread, imo.

The problem certainly has its roots in profit (USA) and in budgets (UK). Psychiatric units here (and old people's homes!) still use the "chemical cosh" despite knowing it's not therapeutic simply because they haven't the resources to correctly manage troublesome patients. This tracks back to our systemic undervaluing of care work ...

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 21:02:43

I agree LRD.

I also think we need to imagine what treatment for mental distress would look like from a feminist perspective. My view would be that it would involve sanctuary if necessary, care, empathy, healing, comfort and support. When I had dealings with the psychiatric profession for depression and also not going to school when I was a teenager, those items were in short supply.

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 21:03:33

Reminds me as well that they are now trying to pathologise women's sex drives when they are in fact normal.

That really is a problem and one that links across so many feminist issues it's hard to know where to start (so maybe one for another thread!).

SardineQueen Mon 27-Jun-11 21:05:50

It's just down to money though isn't it.

At a very high level, simplistic POV, all a society (as a conglomerate) wants is to keep it's citizens in their boxes and performing their functions and not causing trouble. For women the box is very small and very constraining and so it's not surprising maybe that more of them need subduing.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 21:15:23

I have a little dream of therapy conducted going for a walk in the country with the therapist or maybe round a lovely garden.

I'm sure nature is very important in this.

You're right PrinceHumperdink, women are made to feel bad about our feelings. That's actually how you make someone neurotic, make them feel ashamed of their natural responses to situations, because then they have nowhere to go with those feelings.

I mentioned the Sedona method up there, which is about releasing feelings. It's a bit of a hyped up "this method will make you a millionaire" American type thingie, but one of the useful ideas outlined in its book is that no feelings are negative. We need all our feelings, including the "bad" ones like anger and sadness or even jealousy to operate in life. That's a very freeing concept because a lot of people, women especially are made to feel wrong for having those kind of emotions.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 21:27:23

PH, your post just really hit on something for me - amazing!

I just realized I actually hated the 'just sitting and talking' bit of therapy - in fact I hated the not talking, as I went in and would try to ask polite conversational questions because there was a silence, he'd reply without asking a question back, and I'f feel panicky. I did know the silence was meant to get me talking about my issues and stuff, but in reality it just felt aggressive. Is that because women are expected to be good at all the social stuff like filling silences/conditioned to feel bad when they don't?

It would have been so, so much better to have something to do with my hands or some reason to move.

dittany, you made me think of those amazing sensory gardens they make as therapy for patients with dementia - seems like such a great idea, esp. when you think how smell (for example) is so powerful at bringing back memories/emotions.

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 21:28:33

it would involve sanctuary, care, empathy, healing, comfort and support. - You've just described what I was lucky enough to get - in a lovely garden, too! - at the Priory. Which is very expensive.

Everybody's lives should encompass all that, shouldn't they?

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 21:29:38

It seems to me so much of mental health care is about saying 'look at me, I'm such an amazing doctor, I have the answer', rather than 'look at my patient, s/he has these needs'.

Message withdrawn

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 22:30:02

It's interesting that psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who are speaking out against the drug-treated medical model of mental illness see empathy and respect as what are needed to replace drugging patients:


Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 22:37:46

An intersting palce to begin with meds would be the Gps who usually prescribe

DH's all take meds, Dh knows which ones as they chat freely; even their doses.

Citalopram usually (Dh's fave, prozac put him in hospital with a stomach disorder), although DH is managed on a very low level.

Garlicnutter yes everybody's lives should encompass that; so very many never will even touch on that though. I spent my pre-carer years working in the charity sector on a big estate with struggling famillies and sanctuary was so very far away from people's even awareness sad. But it was the community that got people through so whatever is offered, it needs to within that framework (where feasible).

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 22:39:33

I don;t belive empathya nd respect will work for teh seriously ill.

I do belive it would work for a great many, especially women in abusive relationships, rape survivors, child abuse survivors, women holding togetehr famillies in poverty or carers. The sort of people who are often led to believe they are worthless.

queenbathsheba Mon 27-Jun-11 22:42:43

I also wanted to concur with what others have said about abuse. DH works with women in forensic psychiatry, most of whom have been diagnosed as having personality disorders, most of whom were also abused as children. (I worked in this area too at one time but couldn’t accept the situation) Young women are being denied the right to act out, speak out or challenge the circumstances of their lives. When a women behaves in anyway not stereotypically female, ie, placid, compliant or willing she is demonised. Her whole life is defined by that single experience of acting out her pain.

Women are more likely to be diagnosed and sent to psych, where it is much more difficult to start to rebuild there lives. Rather than serving a fixed term with the opportunity for early release instead women are more likely to have a minimum tariff and are at the mercy of doctors and mind altering drugs. Meanwhile men with aggressive personality traits (who are often more of a danger to society) sometimes also caused by family dysfunction are given early release and never have to face the stigma of having a diagnosis of mental illness.

My first job was working with women with mental health problems in one of the old hospitals. Some of the women who were then in their 60's had been placed there as teenagers. The illness had long since burnt itself out but the side effects from the drugs were depressingly obvious and created a huge disabling effect upon their lives.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 22:47:52

I agree peachy that empathy and respect aren't magic bullets - but I think we need to acknowledge where the absence of them is damaging as well as where the presence is helpful. Even if what someone actually needs is a drug - or a metal bolt through a broken arm, even - they still need empathy and respect, and often imo people don't get it. Medics can be shockingly bad at explaining and breaking down that 'god complex' SAF mentions.

I should say, I know loads of fantastic doctors and I don't want to just bash the profession - but the good ones I know tend to admit themselves there are flaws in the system.

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 22:49:18

Absolutely LRD (having beena rgued with so many times by a GP that I now to my sahme have to either send DH or not have help for the boys; mother with qual in field= target)

Message withdrawn

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 22:56:35

Sorry, peachy I am probably coming across like a maiden aunt telling you how to breastfeed or something ... I'm saying obvious things but not because I'm trying to tell you stuff you don't know, just because I'm thinking it through.

Message withdrawn

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 22:59:44

SaF that is awful. sad

Isn't it a cruel irony that we (society) generally expect women to be docile and accepting (even of rape, it seems from your post), yet when women complain about men forcing themselves on women, they're asked 'but why didn't you object more strongly/fight back harder if you were serious'.

Kind of likely to mess with your head, keeping that straight, isn't it?

Message withdrawn

Peachy Mon 27-Jun-11 23:04:13

LRD not at all LMAO

LRDTheFeministNutcase Mon 27-Jun-11 23:07:57

SaF have you had any support/counselling for it yourself? Sounds really nasty.

peachy - oh good! I see we're both on the dyslexia thread too. grin That's what I actually (sort of) know about, I'm interested in Autism via that, if that makes sense.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 23:14:25

What you did there was to bear witness SAF. It's a very important thing to do. At least there was one person there who recognised the girls' suffering and the reasons for it.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 23:17:19

Here's a neurologist's commentary on psychiatry:

"Our emotions—be they elation, depression or anxiety—are a barometer of how we are doing at the game of life. If you reject what your feelings and emotions are telling you, these signals become muddled and lose their attachment to specific failures or successes. Psychiatrists often claim depression, anxiety, and other painful emotions are endogenous—arising from within and not traceable to life events. If they don't take the time to hear a patient's life history surely they will not discover the roots of these feelings.

Intent on making disease pronouncements and on drugging their patients, psychiatrists never take time to understand their patients. Instead, they quickly apply the DSM 'disease' label, scribble a script and then go on to the next normal if troubled patient. But be certain of one thing—there are no diseases in psychiatry.

Even in extreme emotional chaos, recovery may be made and a sense of well being achieved through a long road back, with every life's hurdle needing to be met and surmounted. In any event the failures at life must, sooner or later be confronted and the hard work of life, with the assist of loved ones, family and friends, must be done, and must be done successfully—no shortcuts.

This is why the illusion of psychiatric drugs as 'treatment' is such a dangerous illusion—it never requires that those life hurdles be successfully met. These drugs are chemical poisons that always damage the brain—our main organ of adaptation—and do so increasingly with dose and time. They are pain pills for the mind—targeting symptoms and emotional pain but never a defined physical abnormality or disease as in the practice of medicine. Does this really make sense—to damage our organ of adaptation and call it 'treatment.' This is why—unlike the actual practice of medicine—there are no psychopharmacologic cures."

It's interesting that the case against psychiatry is now being made from within the medical profession.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 23:18:23

Worth repeating:

there are no psychoparmacologic cures

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 23:19:12

I knew some sex addicts; both sexes but I'll talk about the women. It's not a joke condition. Each of them had, predictably, a background of almost unbelievable sexual abuse in childhood. Each, also, had substance abuse and behavioural problems arising from <shorthand> trying to block out the truths of their own selves.

Each, too, had been sexually abused by the male psychiatrists handling their cases. One of them made headlines in the UK; he was sacked, but not de-licensed or removed from the hospital's board - though both might have happened by now, I don't know. The other abusers carried on as normal, leaving their distressed young patients with yet another layer of denial and disbelief to struggle against.

I should, for balance, add that these women were extremely provocative in all their behaviours and language. Most of them managed to shag around the other patients, visitors and some counsellors, while we were in hospital. None of them realised their behaviour was unusual - they reminded me of the child prostitutes I had worked with; it seemed to be their only way of relating to men. They must have presented a sore temptation to those psychiatrists.

But the psychiatrists abused their position, and made their patients' problems worse.

It's so complex - the psych professions are known to have a high incidence of psychiatric disorders and, as in ordinary life, the bad eggs tend to rise to the top. The cases I've just mentioned affected me particularly deeply, I think because they epitomised all the double-think and 'Catch 22' pathologisation that women have to deal with so regularly.

queenbathsheba Mon 27-Jun-11 23:22:59

There is money to be made by pharmaceutical sales. To accept that there is no diseases in psychiatry would be to acknowledge the deeply unequal society in which we live.

As Swallowed's exp shows and mine also, is that treating individuals creates markets and profits and treating the ills of society requires investments. It aint gonna happen!

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 23:26:22

Dittany, I know my meds won't cure me but they help me to manage my condition. Without that help I have no hope of curing it - I'd be relying on a malfunctioning mind to cure itself! Ain't gonna happen ... This is not 'feeling a bit down or embattled'. It's total system failure; complete mental blackness and negativity; incoherent thought and the absence of hope. It is hell.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 23:28:23

"But the psychiatrists abused their position, and made their patients' problems worse."

Perk of the job for some of them. Another example - it's pretty well known that many male psychotherapists were outraged when they were told it was unethical to have sex with their patients.

So I'll add another wish to my list of items to help treat women's sexual distress - female therapists, with a feminist consciousness, in particular an awareness of the extent of sexual abuse and violence towards women and girls.

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 23:29:51

Hmmmm - Freudian slip there. Should be "women's mental distress".

garlicnutter Mon 27-Jun-11 23:30:42

Couldn't BE more Freudian! grin

queenbathsheba Mon 27-Jun-11 23:44:42

I think male psychiatrists, psychologists and the drugs companies have full awareness of the extent to which women suffer violence and abuse. Admitting that the root cause is male violence and oppression would be the end game for the medicalisation of mental distress. This would mean that mental illness is caused by environment and exp.

Lynham devised DBT therapy for BPD patients (mostly women) but few hospitals provide this therapy because it takes investment but the chemical cosh provides cost effective management and profits the drugs companies. Change is not going to come about from within the profession.

Message withdrawn

dittany Mon 27-Jun-11 23:55:58

I'm sure you're right that they do know. Also a pathologised, drug-subdued population gives the predators amongst them a group to prey on.

I think I will ask for female healers too rather than therapists which is obviously a problematic word.

queenbathsheba Mon 27-Jun-11 23:58:25

Dialectical Behavioral therapy. It's little more than a souped up version of CBT but the authors can sell this training for thousands, as always!

queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 00:00:13

Agreed, healers, excellent term because it imparts hope. Rather than the never ending cycle of despair and drug induced side effects dished out by the capitalist ellite.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 09:55:03

No diseases in psychiatry? Hmm, I have a hard time believing that yer proper, full-on schizophrenia and manic depression (or bipolar 1, as they like to call it these days) are not diseases. And by the way, plenty of girls/women suffer violence and abuse at the hands of other women. Just sayin'.

GetOrf Tue 28-Jun-11 10:28:39

Blimey, what a great thread. Well, not really, the subject matter is so grim. But the debate on here is excellent - you have voiced what I have worried about for ages.

Again an astoubnding amount of intelligence on here, Dittany, Proles, SAF, LDN - all people who I admire. I am astonished that you are all so knowledgable - I know nothing about this subject (other than personal anecdote).

Oh so much to think about - what makes me so angry and upset is the thought of how many young girls were shoved in institutions and drugged up for their whole lives. It is so disgusting - and it is STILL going on today, is not ancient history as SAF's experience shows. Those poor bloody women. angry It makes you think that modern psychology in view of women hasn't moved on much from those days where women were treated for 'hysteria' (in the original meaning of the word).

I don't mean to ramble on about my own personal experience but I feel quite strongly about it and it is pretty recent. I am starting to doubt I was actually clinically depressed at all, let alone 'severely depressed' as is written on my notes. I don't believe for a minute I am bipolar either. Didn;'t that used to be a hugely debilitating and life-ruining psychiatric illness?

Looking back perhaps I did not have PND - perhaps I was just rightly down in the dumps and stressed because I was a single teenage mum with no family or money and frantic about getting a job which paid the rent. Instead of giving me prozac perhaps it would have been better to have 'listened' to me (mind you I think at that point I wouldn't have listened, I am generally my own worst enemy). Perhaps I haven't been suffering for years, perhaps I have just been stressed and knackered, and lying awake worrying in the middle of the night is a NORMAL reaction to a stressful job and life. Perhaps that doesn't need pills.

Also, I think Dittany mentioned that serotonin is prevalent in the gut (and certainly in other parts of the body than the brain). Perhaps that describes the most unnerving side effect of venlafaxzine I suffered - complete inability to feel hunger. I could have gone weeks without eating, just living on orange juice and diet coke. In fact I did - I lost a tonne of weight, then thought 'this is fucking marvellous' because it was the best diet ever and was stick thin. Not really a good side effect for a woman with 'depression' and a competitive nature. I wonder how many women are affected by this side effect, and end up tipping into high-functioning anorexia.

Sorry I could type about this subject for hours and will probably be back to bore on some more. This is a fascinating subject and am learning a lot, thanks.

GetOrf Tue 28-Jun-11 10:30:18

I meant to say "Perhaps I haven't been suffering from depression for years"

Message withdrawn

Message withdrawn

SardineQueen Tue 28-Jun-11 11:11:43

Blimey saf I'm so sorry.

GetOrf Tue 28-Jun-11 11:13:47

Oh fucking NORAH SAF - I am so, so, so sorry. It makes me so angry that you went through all tha bollocks as a young woman. Jesus wept and then you saw all those young girls in the psych hospital??

Bloody good on you for getting where you have today. And thanks again for your fantastic support re abortion on that thread a couple of weeks ago, when you had such a hideous and painful experience of it personally.

It's a shocker what you have gone through, it really is. How many more of us have spent years on antids and ended up with a bipolar diagnosis? I am personally very worried at what I am going to do if I start falling into the black again, it is very easy to say here and now that i will never go on the meds again, however at the time (when I cannot sleep, when I am twitching and paranoid and loathe myself) I know I will probably take anthing to stop it.

I somehow think it is going to end up in a similar situation as the 80s - where lots of young women who had been prescribed mogadon in the 60s or whatever and had had their lives blighted, and lost 20 years, I rememebr so many of those stories coming out. Will that be repeated with loads of young women complaining about losing their essential selves to prozac and citalopram?

GetOrf Tue 28-Jun-11 11:14:41

Your story is so so upsetting SAF, I really feel for you. sad

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 11:17:15

Oh, SaF, that is awful. I'm so, so sorry you had to go through that.

It just piles up, doesn't it? This is what gets me: it's not that there are isolated incidents of misogyny or mistreatment (and a lot of the mistreatment you had was abuse, clearly). They all link together and people see you've been mistreated in the past and push on it - like someone seeing you've got a bruise and pressing down.

MitchiestInge Tue 28-Jun-11 11:18:47

I don't think dbt is 'souped up cbt', I think it's more like a cult.

GetOrf Tue 28-Jun-11 11:19:20

I also believe very strongly that if you have been abused in the past you somehow have a ready brek glow and attract other abusers sad

SardineQueen Tue 28-Jun-11 11:20:30

I do feel though that if you can take a "pain relief" for emotions, in the same way as an aspirin or paracetamol, then that in itself isn't a bad thing.

The bad thing is that people are being diagnosed with depression and similar rather than the (often apparently rather obvious) underlying causes being addressed, that these drugs do not seem to be as innocuous as the drug companies would have us believe.

If your life is not a life that is currently agreeing with you, and it's not something that you can actually change, then taking something to make you feel better is OK I think.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 11:20:53

It makes me so angry that doctors are so ignorant and callous about abortion. I am pro-choice all the way but I think neither pro-choice nor pro-life has made enough impact on the way women and women's bodies are treated in this situation. It is just utterly crap.

Message withdrawn

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 11:28:01

That makes perfect sense, SaF. sad

Also shows what sort of person you are very clearly - that's one heck of a thing to have done, when you would have been absolutely within your rights to become bitter and help no one.

I totally agree about sane reactions, btw. One of teh nastiest headfucks is people saying 'but why are you upset' - when it is fucking obvious any normal person would and should be.

Message withdrawn

GetOrf Tue 28-Jun-11 11:33:26

I agree with you SAF - I know it sounds insane but yes I think it is percetly possible to have mental health issues and yet be perfectly level headed.

If you met me you would think i was completely hunky dory, very level headed and calm (albeit a bit standoffish). I have a very clear mind at work as well, that is why whenever I have felt completely at my wits end I have never had to take time off work as I have been fine.

It is when I am on my own that I have felt the worst. In teh dark.

It feels like an epiphany this thread - "i believe that stress, anxiety, depression, not being able to cope at some point are PRETTY SANE REACTIONS TO THE WORLD WE"RE LIVING IN." - I so so agree with that.

GetOrf Tue 28-Jun-11 11:34:21

I would liketo think also that you were a light in the dark for those poor girls in the hospital.

Message withdrawn

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 11:37:58

I really find it hard not to think society as a whole is caught up in a massive delusion re. women's bodies and abortion - probably women's bodies and pregnancy in general judging by how awful people say treatment of miscarrige is.

It seems as if people have persuaded themselves to believe that these things should not affect women's mental health, and if they do, it is abnormal. I can't help feeling this would not be the case if men could experience pregnancy as women do. I just find the amount of crap out there that people honestly believe is astounding. When I was falling apart my parents' response was 'we didn't know you would be upset about an abortion, no-one told us it would be upsetting'. I mean - what the fuck? Why would you assume something like that is not upsetting? Are your natural feelings so totally out of place you need someone to tell you that?

I know this iis only one bit of mental health and I also knoow loads of women have abortions and don't feel regret, and my issue isn't with them. I just think we are fucked up as a society that things like what happened to SaF (and me, though I feel very underservedly lucky) can happen - and there is no real mechanism in place to deal with it. There's no widespread sense that we might be fucking up a generation of women, just a widespread feeling women are 'lucky' because they 'have it all'.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 11:38:23

(Sorry, took ages writing that.)

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 11:40:35

SaF that makes sense about therapy ... I would really be interested to hear about alternative ways of doing it and if you do end up going into that, I'd love to know about it?

Btw, please don't fele you have to shut up, I think you are saying really important and valuable things.

Message withdrawn

GetOrf Tue 28-Jun-11 11:43:52

Oh good lord SAF. That sounds utterly chilling.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 11:45:11

That is just awful. I'm so sorry for her and for you helping her.

I think it bears reapeating thaat for all these girls what you were doing was to bear witnesses. Which is obviously a horrible burden on you, but also hugely important.

Message withdrawn

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 11:52:44

That is terrifying, isn't it? Who dreams up these lables? I assume at some point someone had to decide 'hmm, what will we call the severely abused girls who're reacting to that abuse? I know, let's say they have behaviour problems!' ... do we know when that was decided and how? Can it be changed?

I know very little about this, but the first time you mentioned this I wondered why they don't have a diagnosis like PTSD - or is that too 'mild'?

queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 12:01:50

I have just had a look at the women's Aid website to see what they have to say about women and mental health. There is little doubt that domestic violence and abuse is the major cause of women's mental distress.

Between 50% and 60% of women mental health service users have experienced domestic violence,

Domestic violence and other abuse is the most prevalent cause of depression and other mental health difficulties in women

Domestic violence commonly results in self-harm and attempted suicide: one-third of women attending emergency departments for self-harm were domestic violence survivors; abused women are five times more likely to attempt suicide; and one third of all female suicide attempts can be attributed to current or past experience of domestic violence

70% women psychiatric in-patients and 80% of those in secure settings have histories of physical or sexual abuse

Children who live with domestic violence are at increased risk of behavioural problems and emotional trauma, and mental health difficulties in adult life


That doesn't take into account the fact that women fight other forms of oppression and abuse such as rape and violence outside of the home or have to deal with the general difficulties associated with all other equality issues we face.

It's highly unlikey that the social model of mental distress will ever replace the biomedical model because social = investment and biomedical = profit.

Does this mean that men both cause and profit from women's mental distress.

dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 12:03:55

Radical feminism cured my depression - no joke. I stopped thinking things that weren't my fault were my fault and began to see what was really going on.

That and craniosacral therapy which is all about getting in touch with your real self and your body.

I agree that a lot of this so-called mental illness is the after effects of trauma or the results of ongoing trauma.

dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 12:05:47

It would be better to describe these "illnesses" as psychological and emotional wounds.

If someone hit you and you had a big bruise because of it, you don't have a disease or an illness, you have been harmed.

queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 12:06:37

LRD most women survivors of abuse who enter the psych system end up with DX of Borderline personality Disorder.

GetOrf Tue 28-Jun-11 12:10:36

Oh god this is awful "most women survivors of abuse who enter the psych system end up with DX of Borderline personality Disorder"

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 12:13:53

Thanks queen for that information - chilling.

I think you are rright that the patriarchy both causes and profits from women's mental distress.

And I think calling these illnesses wounds is right too.

oh dear. I have been diagnosed with BPD (diagnosis now withdrawn) as was my mother. It's the notorious Difficult Woman Diagnosis.

A lot of people who work in psychiatry do know all this- they are not all bad, I think themselves driven mad by trying to help victims of abuse and illness while hidebound by the rigid rules of the 'discipline' they have to work with. I remember a mental health nurse laughing with me about my mother's BPD diagnosis. She said, 'oh, so that means she met a psychiatrist'

OpinionatedPlusSprogs Tue 28-Jun-11 12:18:52

Women do not have it all though do they? We are still subject to widespread rape and violence and the perpertrators are not brought to justice in the majority of cases. We have no real choice on whether we are stay at home mums or go out to work. Some women can not afford to work some are unable to afford to give it up. Maternity services are overstretched and there is an not enough postnatal support. Women are still expected to conform to certain ideals with regards to the way the look and behave etc etc. All these situations put women at a higher risk of depression.

Lack of support, isolation, abuse and high levels of stress have all been known to cause depression. The situations I have highlighted all involve these risk factors. It's not a chemical imbalance it a power imbalance. Women are still rendered powerless over their own lives. The medicalisation of female distress and depression is disturbing. It causes to believe their is something wrong with ourselves rather than the way we are being treated.

That is not to say there are no mental illnesses related to brain function. There is plenty of evidence to suggest there is. For example i have been told that the risk of Bipolar is one in ten if you have a parent with it but one in 100 if you don't. There have been studies on identical twins raised apart that show some mental illnesses do have a genetic component. However there is also plenty of evidence that life experiences play a role too, 75% of women with borderline personality disorder have been sexually abused. In my experience it's easy to get antidepressants but hard to get proper assesment , support or talking therapy. That's worrying considering antidepressants may be more harmful than the drug companies admit and clinical dpression might not be the underlying cause of the distress.

I have had bad experiences of SSRI medications and horrendous experiences of the NHS mental health system.

perfumedlife Tue 28-Jun-11 12:19:57

This is a fascinating thread Dittany.
Swallowedafly I am so very sorry for your experiences, deeply troubling to read them and I admire you hugely.

In my own experience, when I was 15 I was left alone with my grandmothers corpse, sudden death at home, for a whole night and was very traumatised. Several years later the trauma manifested in nightmares. I went to my GP and left, minutes later, with a prescription for valium and anti depressants. I took the first dose and felt so petrified I walked into the nearest Boots begging for help. He had given me 10 x the recommended dose.

So, I never got the talking therapy I needed. Fast forward to my late thirties, ds was born, I became ill with over active thryoid, actually got to thryoid storm before I was diagnosed, I weighed six stone and was constantly told I had a virus. Finally got stable enough to have thryoid removed, but post surgery I was left alone and almost bled to death, despite repeatedly begging for help. It got so bad I called my dh to come, and I rang a taxi to take me to another hospital. As I was leaving, a passing aneasthetist saw the emergency and reached in his pocket for a knife and cut my throat open, to remove the blood clots. In the corridor sad Thereafter, I lay on the floor facing my own mortality. Dh asked if I was dying, no one would answer. When I was stable enough, I went back to theatre for what was meant to be an hours surgery. Eight hours later dh was sure I had died. But hey, I made it!

The day after, the doctor who operated (and neglected to come back post op) apologised, but it was between me and him and the four walls. Much as I appreciated it, and would never want to 'punish' someone for human error, this was a hospital procedure error and could have been easily solved so as not to risk anyone's life again. They closed ranks.

I ended up a year later diagnosed with fibromyalgia, similar to Chronic Fatigue and was instantly whapped on to anti depressants. I suffered these awful pills because the doctors told me this was how they treated it, and the chest pain and breathlessness, the sinus tachycardia were all in my mind. The bloody were not. I took myself to A & E where an ECG showed a heart rate of 155 bpm and blood pressure through the roof. Immediately I stopped the anti depressants, and three months later I feel like a new woman. I have me back. Clearly if they work for some then brilliant. They were poisoning me and no one, but no one, will tell me different. I was made to feel like a pest, a nuisance for not getting over the catastrophic op quicker, for not bouncing back. I was told pain was in my head. The doctors, to a man, talked to my dh as though I wasn't there.

I believe I needed to talk through what happened to me in hospital and the easiest thing for them, and least likely to lead to a lawsuit, was to dope me up, and put the onus on my mental health. Bastards.

queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 12:24:24

"In both males and females with borderline personality disorder, traumas during childhood are especially prevalent (Timmerman & Emmelkamp, 2001). Child sexual abuse, for example, is associated with borderline personality disorder (Ludolph, Westen, Misle, Jackson, Wixom, & Wiss, 1990). Indeed, in one study, 74% of people with borderline personality disorder reported they were the victims of sexual abuse, whereas 6% of people in a healthy control group reported they were the victims of sexual abuse (Bandelow, Krause, Wedekind, Broocks, Hajak, & Ruther, 2005)"

I don't agree with some of the info in this article but it's worth a look


What these stats highlight though is that a DX of a mental disorder (Life long, stigmatising and disabling) in the case of BPD actually isn't biomedical but social. It's also wholly concocted as a means of controlling women in the prison system too. Because many women in prisons also exhibit behaviour common to a DX of BPD. They aren't always DX.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 12:30:59

'Women do not have it all though do they?'

No kidding. As if anyone could read this thread and think otherwise.

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OpinionatedPlusSprogs Tue 28-Jun-11 12:34:04


Gillian Proctor has written a report about BPD, it is linked in the article. She believes it is an invalid catch all label that damages women.

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OpinionatedPlusSprogs Tue 28-Jun-11 12:38:12

Women do not have it all though do they?'

No kidding. As if anyone could read this thread and think otherwise.

People do think otherwise. A lot of people think women have their rights and there is no need for feminism any more. Most people don't know much about the mental health system and how it treats women unless they are unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end.

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LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 12:42:42

Yes, I know - I just mean it's shocking that here we are, this thread so copiously proves that we need feminism ... and yet it also shows exactly why that message doesn't get out. There are so many interconnecting systems that make disbelieve or minimize or just refuse to address women's issues and women's objections.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 12:43:40

Sorry, my reply was to opinionated, but obviously I agree with what you say too SaF.

queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 12:45:04

"It's not a chemical imbalance it a power imbalance" opinionated has hit the nail on the head.

Great link too. I'm off to read some more.

I'm lucky to have never been on the receiving end. I worked in psych for 4 yrs and of that worked with BPD victims of abuse for 2 weeks. I couldn't accept the label as a valid dx because it made illness out of suffering. What is so disturbing to me is that abuse is bad enough but coupled with the stigma of "madness" these poor women rarely recover and meet their personal potential as individuals.

I think psychiatric diagnoses operate to discredit women and their feelings and perceptions across a number of arenas. I study it from the legal perspective- in residence disputes where a woman alleges abuse the man will frequently allege BPD.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 12:51:02

Something that terrifies me is how easy to is for someone to be defined as mentally ill and how quickly that can slide towards 'mentally ill and can't be trusted to make her own decisions'.

I had a mild issue but it still scares the heck of out me - I went to my uni course head to ask for help in the first instance, and he insisted that I would fail my exams (bad for him!) so needed to be sent away from uni as it was unfair on other students to have a mentally ill student around. He then got in touch with the uni's tame shrink, who obligingly said I was not in a fit state to stay at university, clearly struggling with all sorts of issues including an abusive relationship with my parents, so hadn't I best go home to those parents? Yet the same shrink miraculously discovered I was better exactly in time to start again at the beginning of the next academic year so I could go repeat a year of uni, pass my exams and no shame them with a black mark on their dropout rate. I had to see this guy for weekly 'therapy' which as far as I know got nowhere -he certainly never gave the slightest suggestion I was making progress and we never did anything different - and of course, once term started again, I didn't need therapy any more, did I? No matter that the issues that had been so serious were totally un-addressed.

Interestingly, when I was in danger of failing my exams, my alcohol problem was a severe worry ... as soon as I came back to start the year again, these problems were totally discounted and they happily watched me get as trollied as I liked.

It was just so incredibly transparent I am still gobsmacked ... I can only begin to imagine how much worse it gets if the situation is actually serious.

Ormirian Tue 28-Jun-11 13:02:08

I didn't know what BPD was before this. But apart from the sheer unfairness of the label it doesn't actually mean anything does it. It's like saying 'bodily illness disorder' for anything from flu to a stubbed toe confused. What's wrong with saying' we don't know what's wrong with you'?

How many more ways can women be put in neat little boxes and forgotten about?

nenevomito Tue 28-Jun-11 13:24:10

I was once diagnosed with BPD in my late teens, but then grew up and surprisingly haven't been symptomatic since then. I remember reading Susannah Kaysen's "Girl, Interrupted" where she critiques the diagnosis at the end and suggests its the diagnosis of choice for anyone who doesn't want to 'fit the mould' or actually anyone who is still in adolescence.

The depression that went with it was cured very much by accepting responsibility for my own actions and making better choices - if not always the right choice.

Mental health is very much a feminist issue. Its sad that we can't congratulate ourselves from no longer being locked up for getting pregnant, or being intelligent or not wanting to do what men wanted us to do as we're locked up in other ways through the prescriptions of first, tranquillisers an then the explosion of anti depressants which are an easy fix when resources are stretched.

What also concerns me is the prescription for ADs for what could be described as "shit life syndrome" where someone finds themselves trapped in a difficult life that they can't get out of due to lack of education, money and options and how women are disproportionately represented in that group. v. interesting topic.

GetOrf Tue 28-Jun-11 13:29:48

I dread to think what would happen to me if I was genuinely mentally ill. I have already got a trumped up diagnosis of bipolar on my records (from a GP, can they actyually diagnose that in 5 x 5 minute appointments or so?) which i don't believe for a second. It makes me think that thats is the last place I would go to help if I started feeling shit again.

It is very unneerving how the whole medical care freight train can overtake you. When I had an op earlier this year, I was in a lot of post op pain. They wouldn't give me any more morphine or tramadol, I had paracetamol and diclofenac. I had last had a dose about 5 hours previously, I bizzed and asked for more. Cue nurse arguing with me at length saying that I was imagining things, I CAN'T be in that much pain. I am normally very forthright but I souldn't argue with her - I was in a bed with drip in, hair not washed for days, in a load of pain, knackered because I couldn't sleep, covered in bloody because earlier I had mistakenly yanked my drip out and bled all over the place. I just cried - I hated feeling so vulnerable and part of the machine. God only knows how I would have felt if I was really really ill.

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dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 13:35:24

That's what feminism is all about though - changing society so that women's lives are at the centre.

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LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 13:39:29

GetOrf I really hate teh way people think it's ok to tell you how much pain you're in.

Since this thread is mostly not painting medics very well, I have a good example for a change. When my gran was very ill with brain cancer she was in hospital complaining of terrible pain in her legs. The nurse took her very seriously and talked to her about how it was an unusual symptom but she was evidently in great pain and needed medicating. Then the nurse took me to one side - I thought she was going to tell me she'd been humouring my gran and couldn't give her anything much, but no - she told me loads about how pain is very complicated and brain cancer interferes with all sorts of sensory processing so my gran could be in horrible pain without having a physical reason. She was absolutely amazing about it and totally ready to advocate for her patient, which I thought was great - very telling about the nature of pain, too, I thought.

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LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 13:40:50

That is so true SaF!

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LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 13:44:57

grin I love being dyslexic ... I didn't realize that was a word, I just took it as the adjective cos you'd already mentioned 'species'.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 13:46:18

I don't think it is naive at all.

This thread is a real eye-opening. Isn't it amazing - and telling - that when we talk about this stuff the patterns of anti-woman action become so very clear? And we can all see what's going on.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 28-Jun-11 13:47:42

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StewieGriffinsMom Tue 28-Jun-11 13:56:26

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Prolesworth Tue 28-Jun-11 13:57:39

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LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 13:57:59

Julie Bindel is a radical feminist - if you check the Guardian you'lll find her columns. Some people would say she's the most radical/most prestigious living feminist (by 'some people' I mean the Guardian article I read after Andrea Dworkin died ... exhaustive research, no?)

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dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 14:09:33

Because she likes us. Flattery is a great thing. I'm also convinced because she must want somewhere nice to visit on the internet after Misogyny is Free.

We could ask her to tweet hi to us to prove it's her.

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Prolesworth Tue 28-Jun-11 14:18:14

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dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 14:21:02

I'll be sad if it isn't her. sad

Prolesworth Tue 28-Jun-11 14:22:01

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StewieGriffinsMom Tue 28-Jun-11 14:29:52

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sfxmum Tue 28-Jun-11 14:34:49

will read the thread carefully but saw BPD mentioned, that is a very good example of the bias, overwhelming majority are women
in practice means oh dear it is a woman with funny symptoms kind of emotional, put her in that box

it might have been mentioned but a lot of what used to be called ( and unfortunately still is) BPD is being reassessed as PTSD

sfxmum Tue 28-Jun-11 14:37:57

also worth noting if you are a woman going to the doctor with symptoms like pain in the belly or back and there is even a whiff of any sort of mental health history the likelihood of being taken seriously drops significantly

then think about women cancers with symptoms such as those

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sunshineandbooks Tue 28-Jun-11 16:25:09

I've just read the whole of this thread. Very very interesting but a terrible reflection of the level of pain so many women seem to be experiencing today. sad You are all amazing in your capacity to pick yourselves up and keep going. I feel quite humbled by your courage

My friend has bi-polar (Type 1). She cannot function without lithium or risperodone (mood stabilisers). In the past she has stopped taking these because she feels better, but then she quickly cycles out of control and has ended up being sectioned. However, in the last 6 or 7 years she has been receiving much more intensive counselling through her psychiatrist (who sounds lovely and very pro-feminist) and the dosage she is taking has been reduced. Also, she was on anti-depressants as well as mood stabilisers and those have now completely stopped. Is it a coincidence that the drug reduction coincides with therapy? Is the fact that my friend is now able to talk about her past helping her more than the medication? I don't know for sure but it certainly supports the anecdotal evidence presented by other posters, and suggests a strong enough trend to warrant a proper investigation.

I also think it's no coincidence that her recovery and self-awareness of her own condition have improved at the same time as her life has improved. When she was first diagnosed she had a heroin-addicted partner who was very violent towards her, a 5-year-old with 'behavioural problems' and a newborn baby. Now her oldest DC is an adult and her youngest a teenager, partner has gone, in fact a lot of poisonous influences in her life have gone, and she has friends and a support network. I completely agree with posters who say we are treating a healthy, sane response to a shitty period in life by labelling it illness and medicating it. I know lots of people (all women) who I think would be able to kick the ADs if they could kick their useless partners into touch.

Whoever mentioned the word sanctuary earlier, as a mainstay of treatment, has got it right. What my friend badly needed was a sage place - both physically and mentally. She has had to forge her own sanctuary in her own world by fighting tooth and nail to erect some boundaries and regain some control. Even so, that sanctuary is poised on a knife edge, subject to cuts in her benefits and other people's perceptions of a benefit-dependent single parent with MH issues. Less resilient people would have given up a long time ago, but she is amazing.

I think many women are unable to reach or even try to reach sanctuary because they are the lynchpin that holds families together. Even if there was somewhere for them to go, they often cannot (or do not want to) because there are too many people depending on them. Maybe we need to bring sanctuary to them, which maybe means things like giving outside agencies the power to evict violent men and keep them away, Sadly, in a patriarchal society I suspect even this good intention could be co-opted and result in women's wishes being over-riden by men who know 'what's best for them'. I don't know what the solution is TBH. sad

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 16:41:07

Support and education are part of the answer. Women need to be educated out of the mindset that causes them to make crap relationship choices.

Ormirian Tue 28-Jun-11 16:43:07

"I think many women are unable to reach or even try to reach sanctuary because they are the lynchpin that holds families together"

YES! 100%

sunshineandbooks Tue 28-Jun-11 17:06:28

Support and education are part of the answer. Women need to be educated out of the mindset that causes them to make crap relationship choices.

I agree, but to do this means we have to create an environment where female children are not being raised in a household where women are treated as secondary, whether that's overt or quite subtle. DV is a massive problem in this country. With the official stats being 1 in 4, and the consensus being that this is just the top of the iceberg, I suspect the real figure is more like half. sad If that's normal in your family, how the hell are you going to break that mindset as an adult?

And that doesn't even begin to tackle the social pressures for women to put up with crap 'for the sake of the children' or for the good of the family overall.

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queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 17:18:15

"Women need to be educated out of the mindset that causes them to make crap relationship choices"

I don't believe women are making crap choices if I did I would pack up and stay home! Women are not making crap choices. Men make crap choices when they choose to inflict domestic violence and abuse upon their partners.

sfxmum Tue 28-Jun-11 17:42:09

medication is sometimes necessary although quite a few survivors think it is not but the solutions have to be wide ranging

many times the approach is to fix something, sometimes I feel this is a matter of perspective, does one need to be fixed? into what? neatly set to conform and to what?

there is quite a lot of debate along the lines of Disability rights, simply put, the world needs to meet my specific needs, I am not wrong'
see what happened with ramps, hearing loop etc.

the issues with MH are more complex but a lot of diagnosis shift over time and are closely linked to socio economic factors as well as the prevailing morality of the day

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 17:53:55

SaF - not twee, comforting. If I were in a really horrible situation such as those described in this thread, I would genuinely feel better and less stressed knowing there are women out there who would tell me I wasn't mad or beyond help. The patriarchy would like us to think it's twee to rely on other women, though.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 19:35:27

Some women DO make crap relationship choices - because they are conditioned to, because this was how they were brought up.This is why you see the phenomenon of women having a series of violent, abusive partners. It's not always the case, but it does happen. This is the case for many women who are diagnosed with personality disorders.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. And have now - in middle age - finally learnt how to take responsibility and make a better choice. Hopefully in time for my dd to see how a healthy relationship works.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 19:49:42

With reference to the stats on DV quoted by sunshineandbooks: half? Well, somebody tell me why women are putting up with it if that is really the case. FGS, in these days of refuges and helplines, why would you want to stay and put yourself and your children through that crap? What kind of a parent are you if you do that?

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Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 20:14:37

Mmmm, don't think I mentioned anything about any suppositions about my own intelligence. Intelligence doesn't come into it, you see. Nor am I trying to be provocative. You obviously missed the bit about me having some personal experience of DV. What I can't understand is the "thinking it's what everyone puts up with" bit. I KNEW that not everyone puts up with it. In fact, I knew that it was very far from the norm.

dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 20:16:48

The problem is with violent abusive men, not with women's "choices".

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AliceWhirled Tue 28-Jun-11 20:19:05

Stroperella - your experience is not everyone's. You knew it, some women don't. Not sure what's hard to understand about that.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 20:22:49

I am not lucky. I made some hard choices and learned a different way to live and take responsibility for myself and my children.

My ex is now dead, having turned his violence against himself.

MitchiestInge Tue 28-Jun-11 20:24:35

Just popping in to hand out medals. One for you Stropperella.

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Ormirian Tue 28-Jun-11 20:34:10

Fuck me! it is all women's fault after all. For making the Wrong Choices!

How reassuring.

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Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 20:44:16

Because I'm making the point that it is often the case that women who have been diagnosed with personality disorders have issues with relationships. I did. I made crap choices. I didn't know that at the time but they were. But the point is women can recognise that they are making bad choices and change. I'm not saying all DV is down to this - but some is.

dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 20:46:52

Yes this thread isn't about criticising women for "poor" choices or whatever. This thread is about the pathologisation of women's distress, and the fact that the treatments for it, turn out to be ineffective. It's also about the patriarchal nature of the psychiatric profession. Did you read both articles Stropperella?

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 20:52:03

Yup. And I had plenty of experience of the psychiatric profession during the year I spent in an NHS psychiatric unit 20 years ago, thanks.

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Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 20:53:01

Oh and the treatment involved NO DRUGS at all.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 20:56:16

Jeez, yeah, heaven forbid anyone should fix it and move on to have a decent life!

dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 20:58:38

Do you have a point? Because I'm not seeing it.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 21:04:15

Ah well. I tried, but couldn't communicate it, obviously. Sorry, but my take on these matters is clearly very different from everyone else's here, so I will withdraw.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 21:12:26

How do you 'take responsibility' for a man who hits you?

Sorry if I am putting this in terms so simple they insult anyone's intelligence, but this one eludes me.

MitchiestInge Tue 28-Jun-11 21:18:34

You use your crystal ball and avoid making the poor choice of entering into the relationship in the first place.

Or you leave the very instant it happens, you don't indulge in shock or denial or shame like your feckless counterparts.

queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 21:21:12

Stropperella, I'm glad you have overcome your difficulties.

Women may in some cases be conditioned to accept the behaviour of others and come to believe it is normal. I agree. However we are not infalliable and we are entitled to make mistakes or lack judgement at times. NO man though has any entitlement to use violence against women and children.

Women shouldn't have to overcome domestic violence and abuse because it simply shouldn't be happening.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 21:23:12

Ah, thanks Mitchiest, all makes sense now.

Particularly easy, I would think, if said relationship is a familial rather than marital one and the person hitting you has done so since before you can remember.


What happened to this thread?

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 21:23:20

Er, trying to leave this now, but .. watch the quotes. I didn't say anything about taking responsibility for a man who hits you. Quite the contrary. Every woman takes responsibility for herself. Or should do.

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LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 21:28:07

But strop, the reason I phrased it like that is because you imply a lack of responsibility for herself in a woman wwho's in an abusive relationship.

Why so? What would a more 'responsible' woman do? What would she need to do if the man wasn't hitting her?

MitchiestInge Tue 28-Jun-11 21:29:34

"in these days of refuges and helplines, why would you want to stay and put yourself and your children through that crap? What kind of a parent are you if you do that?"

I thought this was the worst thing you said. But I am being very hypocritical as have been quite horrible and judgmental at times too.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 21:30:55

I was raised in a house with plenty of violence, but it wasn't a man that was doing it. Which probably accounts for much of my attitude, frankly. grin And I wasn't alone, as I found out when in the loony-bin. Women can be plenty abusive too. (Dear god, in all the years I've been online, I've never before got into an argument, not even close, so this thread is a humdinger for me).

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 21:33:55

Yes, my mum hit me around too. It's not nice. But what's your point? How does the fact it's another woman make it the hit person's responsibility?

I am tryinig to understand here.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 21:34:29

A responsible person would leave. And I'm sorry, but I will always think that those of us who stay with a man who is violent and abusive when we have children are not being good parents. I wasn't doing good by my daughter. I hope that she doesn't think an alcoholic misogynist is a good choice of partner when she is older.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 21:38:11

OK, I'm losing heart here. The point is: you gain insight. You realise that your upbringing has made you accept abuse as the norm, but in fact it is not. You realise that if you continue to accept abuse (from whoever) as the norm, your children will grow up accepting it as the norm and the cycle will continue forever. Your children will grow up to be either victims or abusers. I thought: do I want that? No! Did a psychiatrist tell me this would happen? Yes! Can I change things? I will try and find a way.

dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 21:40:27

It is absolutely yawnsome to bring this issue down to individual women's choices.

People on this thread have described horrendous treatment at the hands of the psychiatric and medical professions. We've heard about abused girls who have been abused and traumatised for a second time within the system. There is an article about women who have given birth to babies with genetic defects because of the massive doses of psychiatric drugs they were prescribed by a psychiatrist when they had the misfortune to be in a children's home. These aern't isolated incidents, they are systemic. The medical and in particular the psychiatric profession is not geared to dealing with women's distress, it is geared to silencing and pathologising women in pain and ignoring the causes of that pain.

But "me, me, me" in feminist discussions apparently always trumps women's wide experiences. Its' the rule. We can't make connections, we can't draw conclusions, we can't turn accepted truths on their head. We must accept the status quo - women are to blame, now shut up complaining.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 21:41:55

OK, whatever you say.

dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 21:42:03

Have you read the two articles in the first post stropparella about the flawed medical model of mental illness, and the ineffective drug treatments that flow from it.

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LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 21:49:48

strop, it is awful that someone has given you the idea that the solution to physical abuse is to expect moore of the person abused.

Why would it not be simpler and quicker and all-round better to accept that abusers should not abuse? I really don't get it. Do you honestly think learning 'I must not stay with an abusive partner' is a more valuable thing for your daughter to learn than 'no-one should hit me'? Really?

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 21:51:32

I've already answered that question upthread, dittany. It's ok, I'll go away and work out how to hide the thread, and indeed, the topic. grin I've always thought I was making connections and drawing conclusions, but they are obviously the WRONG ones.

queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 21:58:10


Indeed we must all take responsibility for our choices. Therefore following this logic men who abuse must also take responsibility. This way we can expect the conviction rates to rise 100-fold.

dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 21:58:10

You're just repeating mainstream prejudices - that women are to blame for their own abuse.

You're not saying anything at all that threatens the status quo. I don't get why people act all offended because their mainstream ideas are disagreed with in this section. It's called Feminism after all. What exactly were you expecting?

Ormirian Tue 28-Jun-11 22:04:51

All functioning adults need to be able to take responsibility for themselves in normal circumstances. Of course. Women as much as men.

But taking responsiblity for themselves should not include defending themselves against emotional and physical abuse in their own homes. That should not be normal circumstances.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 22:06:38

I don't even understand these ideas enough to form a disagreement, except on the very basic level of 'I think you're blaming abused women'.

I don't get what this 'responsibility' is or could achieve, if it's other than shifting blame from the abuser. Yet you say it's not the same as asking women to take responsibility for men hitting them.

No need to flounce grinning out of the section, just explain what you mean.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 22:12:36

But I don't understand what you lot are saying. Of course we should not be having to defend ourselves against emotional and physical abuse in our own homes. No, that shouldn't happen. But it does. Even though most people think it shouldn't. So what then?

Ormirian Tue 28-Jun-11 22:14:40

So you attempt to change things. That is what feminism is for isn't it?

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 22:14:47

So then, you speak out against abuse.

That's what we're saying. Does that not seem sensible?

floyjoy Tue 28-Jun-11 22:14:50

I've been following this thread and it's been so intelligent and thought provoking. My thinking on this topic has been kind of basic and this is so beyond that. That people have posted their experiences is such a generous thing to do. There's so much to think about and it's made me re-frame some experiences which is always good.
Just wanted to say that (especially given the anti-women vibe that's crept in) it is appreciated.

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 22:15:31

Meantime, can you explain what this 'responsibility' constitutes? In practical terms.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 22:17:50

yes, so I attempted to change my circs. I spoke out. And if I can, then others can do the same. What is so bad about saying that? What is so bad about stating the obvious that the longer you stay in a DV situation with your children, the more they accept it as the norm?

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 22:19:54

No-one is denying it's great you changed your circumstances. But let's be blunt. You didn't actually change the root problem, right? Your ex is presumably still perfectly capable of going out and finding another person to beat up. So, in net terms, are we any fuirther forward?

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LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 22:21:56

Btw, to be clear - I don't think it's your job to change the root problem. I just think that, in saying 'look, I got out, other women should' makes it sound as if, if they can't, that's their fault.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 22:22:27

The responsibility is to try and extricate yourself from the situation. Not to make excuses for the perpetrator of the violence, and to do your best not to have any more children whilst still in that situation. I do appreciate that at the extreme end of the spectrum that some women may have no bloody choice at all. But some do.

sunshineandbooks Tue 28-Jun-11 22:23:23

I think it's quite simple really. There are two ways to end a DV relationship:

1. The woman leaves (gain for the woman and her DC)
2. The man stops doing it (overall gain for society) - either by changing behaviour or by being made to stop through the enforcement of consequences - prosecution, eviction etc.

Option 1 means DV is normalised because no one is punishing the perpetrator for what he's doing.
Option 2 sends a clear message that DV is wrong and that perpetrators will be held accountable.

It wouldn't be so bad if at least the facilities for option 1 were more available, but refuges and funding for victims of DV are being shut down as part of the Coalition cuts - what message does that send out.

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LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 22:24:33

That's what I was trying to say SaF, but I have to say I don't like the way we're arguing it either. It is not ever an abuser's fault. Not even if she's so scared she stays quiet.

The problem with the analogy is that a hole in the road isn't malicious, or immoral - it's just there. And that's the problem with strop's attitude.

Abusers aren't natural disasters we could hope to avoid - they're people making the choice to abuse.

Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 22:24:40

My ex committed suicide, but that is neither here nor there.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 22:25:25

"But I don't understand what you lot are saying. Of course we should not be having to defend ourselves against emotional and physical abuse in our own homes. No, that shouldn't happen. But it does. Even though most people think it shouldn't. So what then?"

You become a feminist and join other feminists in fighting male abuse and violence against women and girls in all it's forms.

Feminism is a great idea, a bit new fangled, and not many people have heard of it. But we think it's going to work.

electra Tue 28-Jun-11 22:26:09

I don't think SSRIs should be handed out the way they are but cannot agree they never work.

I know for certain that they make me feel incredible, warm, fuzzy and so confident - it is such a specific feeling I cannot begin to describe how wonderful it is. BUT since I have bipolar depression I am perhaps a different case. My doctor never liked me to be on SSRIs for too long anyway in case they induced mania.

dittany Tue 28-Jun-11 22:26:23

How did this thread, which was so interesting and multi-faceted get dragged down to the most basic dull misogyny - women are to blame for our own abuse?

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 22:26:54

strop, why should women in abusive relationships be held to a higher standard than all other women? Because that is what your argument does.

My DH doesn't hit me; I have no need to 'take responsibility'. But - by your argument - if he were to start, that would instantly make me lacking in responsibility. Why? I haven't done anything differently. So why me?

LRDTheFeministNutcase Tue 28-Jun-11 22:27:53

dittany it is a great thread. It's amazing.

queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 22:30:07

I am discombobulated grin I can't cope with the way this is heading.

Strop, great, you have survived and come through. Your experiences are valid and helpful to hear but not many people will agree with you. To do so essentially means that women are to blame when someone uses violence against them. This means we are also responsible for rape, female infanticide, low wages and poor working conditions............the list goes on teenage pregnancy...........drug abuse....................... all we need to do is blame ourselves and all will be fine.

I know it's not a popular choice of bed time reading but might I suggest you go read about the holocaust. Come back and tell me if the victims should have taken responsibility for their lives.

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Stropperella Tue 28-Jun-11 22:38:47

Ooh, yes, that new-fangled feminism thingy, I should really give that a look. But I've just realised I'm a reactionary, basic, dull misogynist. I probably ought to go away and think a while. No really, I should. Thanks for your input. (They never should have let me out of the nuthouse, should they?)

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electra Tue 28-Jun-11 22:42:28

Well, I certainly resent that my psychiatrist told me in no uncertain terms that drugs were the only thing that would make me better and psychotherapy would not.

She was so wrong that I am glad I did not listen to her. Since I started psychotherapy I have had no episodes and my life has come together. I am a well person again. The drugs did not heal me in any way at all. The mood stabilisers just knocked me out so that I couldn't do anything unpredictable.

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queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 22:52:03

"covern of witches" you sure about that

‘witchcraft’. Women who threatened social norms in the
Middle Ages weren’t called mad they were called ‘witches,’ in the 19th century they had hysteria and in the modern age they are just "mad" or BPD because that's a good fit for any woman who doesn't accept the norms of her gender specific and clearly defined place in society.

Just been reading the Gillian Proctor chapter from the link.

On that basis I don't mind being a witch

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queenbathsheba Tue 28-Jun-11 23:00:47

I'm off on my broomstick, good night everyone

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