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Is the Mainstream Media Bad for People's Mental Health

In recent years, the mainstream media has spoken a lot about mental health. What this has done is created greater awareness around this important topic; something that might not have occurred otherwise.

There are at least two ways that this source has played a part. Firstly, it has spoken about this area directly and, secondly, it has provided certain public figures with a platform to share their own challenges.

Out of the Dark

There is then likely to have been plenty of people who have benefit from what this source has covered in recent years. For one thing, it may have allowed them to realise that they are not the only ones who are going through a tough time.

Their experience would have been normalised, allowing them to reach out for the support that they needed. Yet, even if there are people who haven’t taken this step, at least they will know that they are not the only ones in this position.

A New View

When it comes to the public figures that have opened up about their own struggles, some of these people may have changed how some people perceive mental health problems. One reason for this is that some these people will have been perceived as being strong and having it altogether.

Said another way, as these people have struggled it will have meant that having mental problems doesn’t mean that someone is weak or incapable, for instance. If anything, it simply shows that they are human.

An Important Step

Naturally, if something is seen as a weakness, it is going to be normal for someone to do what they can to cover it up. Opening up abut what they are going through will be seen as something that could cause them to be ostracised.

Taking this into account, the sports stars and actors/actresses that have come forward and opened up have played a key role in changing how mental health problems are viewed. These people are just expressing the truth: having mental problems doesn’t mean that someone is weak, worthless or incapable.

A Process

Sadly, there are people out there that won’t have been impacted by any of this, which will mean that they will continue to suffer in silence. For others, hearing about this in the media will have opened them up to reaching out, but they might not know what do to next.

And even for those that have reached out, they may have felt that the support that they did receive was inadequate. In each of these cases, it will be essential for them to think about the fact that they don’t deserve to experience life in this way and that they need to keep going until they receive the assistance that they need.

The Other Side

However, although the mainstream media has played a key role in redefining how some people view mental health problems, and are continuing to do so, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t also played a part in the challenges that some people have had, and still have. To get an idea of what is being spoken about here; one only needs to think about what this source of information typically focuses on.

For so long, this source has focused on stories that are fear-based and, in recent years, this source has given a lot of attention to stories that are designed to cause outrage. It is then as if this source is serving medicine with one hand and poison with the other.

The First Part

When it comes to the fear-based content, this could relate to the need to attack another country due to some made up reason, for instance. Not doing so will be presented as something that would put their very survival at risk.

Hearing stories like this, along with a host of others, can set someone up to experience a fair among of fear and anxiety. Thanks to this fake news - the very thing that this source accuses the alternative media of - so many people will be kept in a continual state of existential angst.

The Second Part

When it comes to the content designed to cause outrage, it could relate to what someone has said or their interpretation of what has been said. The intention will most likely be to get as many people as possible to react in a certain way.

This source will be saying jump and there will be plenty of people who are willing to jump. As a result of this, these people can end up being consumed by anger or rage, with their stress levels going through the roof in the process.

A Fine Line

Clearly, no longer paying attention to what is going in the world is not the answer; this would just cause someone to be uniformed. Nonetheless, there is a massive difference between paying attention to sources that exist to inform and sources that exist to brainwash.

Living in a place of fear or outrage is not going to benefit ones mental and emotional health. Thus, if someone is sucked into what the mainstream media is trying to sell them, it is not going to be a surprise if their inner world is not in a good way.

Conclusion

This is not to say that they will experience inner peace if they no longer pay attention to this source, as there may be other steps that they need to take. There are many things that have an effect on their inner world, including: what they eat, who they spend time with, their sleeping habits, what they do for a living, how long they spend in nature, and the amount of exercise they do, amongst other things.

Along with this, there is the effect that their early years may have had on their brain and body. Having good mental and emotional health is then not about doing one thing in particular; it is about living in the right way.

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Depression is anxiety. It is the constellation of symptoms caused by relentless anxiety. This is critical to understand because anxiety is simply the sensation you feel when your body is full of stress chemicals, such as cortisol, adrenaline and histamines. It is the essence of your body’s neurochemical unconscious survival response, which is approximately a million times stronger than your conscious brain.

“I know better”

So, anxiety is not primarily psychological and not solvable by your rational brain. Have you ever wondered why so many people (maybe all of us) act badly when we know better? How successful are we at keeping our New Year’s resolutions? Why would you treat your loved ones worse than you would treat a stranger? What about the atrocities that are commonly committed at a societal level? This list is endless because you can’t outrun or overpower your mind and need to survive.

I have known for many years that anxiety is the driving force behind depression, and have seen smatterings of it being discussed in the literature and news. I suffered from a major depression for over 15 years with the last eight of them being extreme. In 2002, I was actively suicidal, and am still not quite sure why I didn’t go through with my plan. I got lucky and have been given a second chance. About 18 months later, I pulled out of my downward spiral of anxiety and major depression. Little did I know that they were the same entity.

I eventually was able to live a fuller and richer life than I dreamed was possible. It is also the experience of many of my patients who escaped from the grips of chronic pain in that their quality of life is even better than before they developed chronic pain.

Why is depression just the expression of sustained anxiety?

  • All people with depression have anxiety (although it can be suppressed by anger), but not everyone with anxiety has depression.
  • One of the earliest signs of depression is waking up in the morning and not being able to fall back asleep. This is usually from racing thoughts – connected to anxiety.
  • Then you can’t fall asleep. Again, from disruptive thoughts, but also from your body being full of stress chemicals. You are on high alert, which isn’t conducive to falling asleep.
  • You’re not sleeping – a cardinal symptom of depression.
  • Eventually, you have trouble concentrating, which is a combination of your racing thoughts and not being able to sleep.

You have already defined a minor to moderate depression – and the relentless anxiety continues and becomes increasingly intolerable. It was by far and away the worst part of my ordeal. From a survival perspective, the intention is to create such an unpleasant feeling that you are compelled to take action that to escape the threat. But I couldn’t escape my thoughts and they progressed to vivid, obsessive thought patterns, which is the core of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I was introduced to another realm of suffering I never would have imagined. It is beyond words, and that is why I use the term, “The Abyss.” I watched my patients try to describe how deep their suffering was, and all that kept coming up for me was the word, “dark”, and without any hope of light. The next word was, “despair.”

None

I also experienced the more advanced symptoms of a major depression (anxiety).

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss – adrenaline decreases the blood supply to your GI tract.
  • Lack of energy – being full of these chemicals keeps your body on high alert and it just wears you down. It is similar to attempting to sprint a mile.
  • Multiple diffuse physical symptoms – direct effect of your body’s hormones on the different organ systems. I was experiencing over 17 of them at the worst phase of my ordeal.
  • Social isolation – the one worst part of my journey, besides the anxiety, was loneliness. It was crushing and many self-deprecating thought patterns emerged. This occurred in spite of the fact that I am normally extremely social. It still took me down.
  • Suicidal ideation – and action plan.

You get the point. What we are calling depression is a set of symptoms created by sustained levels of stress chemicals (anxiety).

Anger – stepping it up a notch

Then the story gets worse – a lot worse. One antidote to anxiety is control, and normally when a physical threat is solved, the anxiety drops, and you’ll live another day. However, when you can’t escape (your thoughts for example), your body will secrete more adrenaline, cortisol and histamines in an effort to regain control, and you’ll feel angry (trapped). So, anger is anxiety with a chemical kick and is the same entity. The problem is that anger is truly the last-ditch effort to survive and is destructive. An animal will do whatever it has to do to stay alive. Humans have the same need, but the destructive behavior doesn’t have an endpoint because we have consciousness. Additionally, it is self-destructive.

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Medicine has missed it

I will get a lot of push back on this article from almost every corner of the medical world. But, they have missed this one – badly. Anxiety and depression are conceptualized, labeled and treated differently. They are not only the same entity, but neither are truly solvable with isolated psychological interventions. Although, psychological treatments are important aspects of care by providing support, wisdom, guidance and symptom control they must be combined with other strategies that teach you how to develop your own individualized way of regulating your body’s chemistry. Learning how to change your hormonal profile to “play”, which includes oxytocin (love drug), dopamine (rewards), GABA chemicals (anti-anxiety), and serotonin (antidepressant) is simple, effective, easily learned and will change your life.

Anxiety and depression are the same entity. The core driver is anxiety, which is not primarily a psychological problem. We can’t get rid of it or we wouldn’t survive. Understanding the nature of any problem will allow you to address the root issue. It is a solvable problem using strategies that stimulate your brain to rewire.

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