mental health

Living with depression? Grab your mat: 5-minute yoga video with Jamie from PatientsLikeMe

Studies have shown that practicing yoga can have positive effects on people with depression. So we tapped Jamie – a PatientsLikeMe research assistant who is also a certified yoga instructor – to show us some poses with mental health in mind. She put together a 5-minute, beginner-level flow that you can try at home. (As always, check with your doctor before trying a new type of exercise.) “I practice yoga to manage my mental and physical health, and to bring mindfulness to my day,” Jamie says. Don’t speak yogi? Here’s a breakdown of the poses (and phrases) featured in the video, plus some of their perks: Pranayama – The practice of purposefully controlling or regulating your breath. Benefits: Settles the mind and body in preparation to practice yoga. Dirga (pronounced “deerga”) – A form of pranayama, this three-part breath involves inhaling into your lower belly (with your right hand on your belly), then into your diaphragm or midsection of the lungs, and finally into the chest (with your left hand on your chest) – and reversing this flow when you exhale. Benefits: Helps increase oxygen to the heart and lung to counteract shallow breathing – which can occur with depression …

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Women’s Health Week: Ginny reflects on motherhood and “the perfect storm” of epilepsy and mental health conditions

In honor of National Women’s Health Week, Team of Advisors member Ginny (Mrslinkgetter) shares what it’s like to live with multiple health conditions – including major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder and epilepsy – as well as grief following the death of her son (who also had epilepsy and major depression). On PatientsLikeMe, hundreds of members report living with epilepsy along with depression and/or anxiety. “I’ve had anxiety from my earliest memories,” she says. In her early 30s, she also began experiencing MDD. She was dealing with a move, very active children, and worsening migraines, pain and other symptoms. “It was the perfect storm,” she says. Read on for more of her story, plus her tips for women dealing with multiple health conditions in their family. My name is Ginny. I had 12 years of misdiagnosis, until I was appropriately diagnosed with epilepsy, psoriatic arthritis, major depression and anxiety. In the middle of dealing with my own health issues, my son was diagnosed with epilepsy. I felt overwhelmed – extreme exhaustion beyond the norm for a mom and wife. When I started Topamax, a seizure medication for my epilepsy, it raised my anxiety and I told my neurologist I …

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World Health Day 2017: #LetsTalk about depression and mental health

Today is World Health Day! This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to spark discussions about mental health with their campaign called “Depression: Let’s talk.” Depression affects more than 300 million people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries – but less than half of people with depression (even less than 10 percent in many countries) receive treatment. “The stigma surrounding mental illness, including depression, remains a barrier to people seeking help throughout the world,” according to WHO. “Talking about depression, whether with a family member, friend or medical professional; in larger groups, for example in schools, the workplace and social settings; or in the public domain, in the news media, blogs or social media, helps break down this stigma, ultimately leading to more people seeking help.” In honor of World Health Day, WHO encourages you to use the hashtags #LetsTalk and #depression, as well their predesigned apps and graphics to spread awareness over social media today. Don’t go it alone WHO suggests talking to someone you trust about your feelings. “Being emotionally mature and authentic to those who are close to you can be an absolute game changer,” says Matthew Johnstone, a writer/illustrator who …

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Meet Ginny from the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors

Say hello to Ginny (Mrslinkgetter), a case manager and family partner with Youth Mobile Crisis Intervention living with depression and epilepsy.  She’s also a member of the 2016-2017 Team of Advisors. Check out what Ginny had to say about living with depression and epilepsy, the loss of her son, and how being her own advocate and the support of others helps her deal with stigma: What gives you the greatest joy and puts a smile on your face? My first greatest joy that puts a smile on my face is spending time with my granddaughter! (She is 2 and the cutest girl on the planet by my biased opinion!). My second greatest joy is connecting with people using either my journey with chronic health issues, or my son’s and being able to help them. I often edit my son’s story a bit if I believe the way his life ended might cause more harm to them, especially my clients. What has been your greatest obstacle living with your condition, and what societal shifts do you think need to happen so that we’re more compassionate or understanding of these challenges? People have pre-conceived ideas about depression, anxiety, and seizures and even …

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Touched with fire: A meaning behind the suffering

We’ve been talking with new PatientsLikeMe member Paul, whose debut feature-film, Touched with Fire – inspired by his experiences living with bipolar – opened last week in select theaters.  For Paul, the road to diagnosis was more like being on a rollercoaster. Years of using marijuana seemed to stimulate his creativity at film school, but culminated in the manic episode that would shape the rest of his life. His diagnosis was not the divine revelation he interpreted it as, but the triggering of a lifelong disease: bipolar disorder. Here’s how Paul describes this time in his life: Having trouble watching the video? Click the button below:     Share your own experiences and connect with more than 70,000 members in the Mental Health forum on PatientsLikeMe.  Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.

Meet Paul, an artist “touched with fire”

“I’m a filmmaker, husband of my NYU film school classmate, father of two children and bipolar. Of these labels, the one I’m certain stands out in your mind is bipolar – and not in a good way.” Being bipolar is not something that new PatientsLikeMe member Paul has ever tried to hide. On the contrary, he sees it as a gift that has fueled his creativity. Paul has written, directed, edited and scored a feature-film debut inspired by his experiences with bipolar disorder. Touched with Fire, starring Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby, opens tomorrow, February 12, 2016, in select theaters. Paul received his diagnosis at age 24 when he thought a manic episode was a divine revelation. What happened after that illuminated the path his life would take. “I was thrown into a hospital, pumped full of drugs and came down only to be told that I wasn’t experiencing anything divine; I just triggered a lifelong illness that would swing me from psychotic manias to suicidal depressions with progressive intensity until I would most likely fall into the 1-in-4 suicide statistic – unless I took my meds, which made me feel no emotion.” Refusing to accept what every medical text …

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Allison’s story

Last month we introduced Allison, a member of your 2015-2016 Team of Advisors living with bipolar II. She recently opened up in a video about how sharing her data on the site helped her recognize when she might have an episode, and partner better with her doctor to prevent new episodes from happening. You can see how much good data can do. During the month of December, we’re celebrating #24DaysofGiving. Any data you share on the site will go toward a donation of up to $20,000 by PatientsLikeMe to Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island to help fund life-affirming wishes for seriously ill children. Data for you. For others. For good.     Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.

Meet Allison from the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors

Meet Allison, one of your 2015-2016 PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors. Allison is living with bipolar II, has been a PatientsLikeMe member since 2008 and is a passionate advocate for people living with a mental health condition. Refusing to let her condition get the best of her, she partners with her family to self-assess her moods and tracks her condition on PatientsLikeMe where she’s been able to identify trends. She also gives back to others through her advocacy work on the board of directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Dallas, where she lives, and currently with the Dallas police, helping train officers with the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program. Additionally, she works with the Suicide Crisis Center of North Texas helping to implement a program called Teen Screen and has shared her story of living with mental illness to groups and organizations all over the state of Texas. She even testified to the Texas State Legislators about the importance of mental health funding. A former teacher, Allison is going to graduate this November with a master’s degree in counseling. Sharing about her journey with bipolar II has enabled her to live a life of recovery. This has …

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World Mental Health Day 2015: What does dignity mean to YOU?

Mental illness affects people in every corner of our global community. Thousands with mental health conditions around the world can face discrimination, stigma, and emotional and physical abuse in mental health facilities. Additionally, many receive poor quality of care due to dilapidated facilities and lack of qualified health professionals.[1] The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day, observed annually on October 10th, and sponsored by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), is “Dignity in mental health” and focuses on how dignity can be provided in all aspects of mental health – from patient care to the attitudes of the general public. The WFMH’s goal when it established World Mental Health Day in 1992 was public education at all levels of society. Today it’s become the largest and most widely promoted education and advocacy program of the WFMH. How can you take part?  You can read and share their campaign materials. And on social media, they’ve been asking: What does dignity mean to YOU? #WMHDay. You can share your responses on their Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget to log in to your PatientsLikeMe community to share there as well. Defining dignity, together. [1] http://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/2015/en/ Share this post on …

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Talking brain donation with Dr. Deborah Mash

Dr. Deborah Mash is a professor of neurology and molecular/cellular pharmacology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. She’s also the director of the university’s Brain Endowment Bank, and she recently spoke with PatientsLikeMe about her research and exactly what goes into donating your brain to science. As she says, “we still know very little about that which makes us uniquely human” – read her Q&A interview below. What led you to study diseases of the brain?  The brain is the next biologic frontier. We have learned more about the human brain in the past twenty years than throughout all of human history. And, we still know very little about that which makes us uniquely human – our brain. I was always very interested in the anatomy and the chemistry of the brain and in disease-related Neuroscience. I consider it a privilege to study the human brain in health and disease. How would you explain the process of brain donation to PatientsLikeMe members who might be new or uncomfortable with the idea of donating this organ to science? Brain donation is no different than donating other organs after death. Organ and tissue donations can give life or sight to …

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