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Mental Health Use this forum to share your mental health concerns and to seek advice.

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LittleFish Offline
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Are mental health issues becoming a "trend?" - February 28th 2010, 04:41 AM

Okay, I apologize if I get too angry or whatever, but right now, I am pissed. Also, I'm sorry if this belongs in the events/debates section, so feel free to move it there if that is the case. I was just on this role-play website looking for a new RP to join when I noticed one that was about a school for teens with mental disorders. They had it all decked out. Under the options for profiles, they described schizophrenia like it was multiple personality disorder. As if the ignorance of this RP's creator wasn't pissing me off enough as it was, it then occurred to me that people were doing this for fun. They were pretending to have mental disorders for fun. Even though I personally do not have mental health issues, I was extremely offended by the fact that these people took something so serious and turned it into a cute little game.

So, my question is, have you noticed that mental health problems are almost becoming a trend? I hear so many people around school talk about having "bipolar" episodes and "hearing voices." I hear people saying they have severe depression. I hear people blathering about how they cut themselves all the time. I know this is a serious issue. I know that not all people who say things like this are seeking attention and that a lot of them need help. But seriously? Are that many people really suffering from mental disorders? I honestly doubt it. Frankly, the last thing I'd do if I had a disorder is go around telling everybody about it. A lot of them talk about them like they're cool, like being mentally ill makes you seem really deep or something. It's disgusting because I know how it must hurt to actually have a mental disorder and be disregarded as one of the attention seekers. I think that's why it's so hard for some teens to get help. No one will listen, and although I know I shouldn't point fingers, I can't help but feel that all this "hype" is somewhat responsible for that. I apologize if I've offended anyone, as I honestly wasn't trying to. All of the things I said are purely based on my observations, and I was in no way trying to deny that some of these people might actually need help. That said, what are your views on this matter? Do you agree or disagree that mental disorders (or pretending to have them, anyway) are becoming a trend?
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Re: Are mental health issues becoming a "trend?" - February 28th 2010, 05:09 AM

I agree that, in a sense, some people treat mental illness like a trend. I've seen people pretend to be depressed, bipolar, various other things, or make up traumatic events in their lives and such to fulfill an angsty stereotype.

In fact, I mentioned in the "Self-Diagnosing Mental Illness" thread about this former friend I had, who claimed to have Depression, Bipolar (which contradict), BPD, OCD, ADHD. She had NO symptoms of any of it, except acting mopey, really. She was put on ADHD medications, and tried to say they didn't work. Truth is, she has snorted Ritalin recreationally (which my friend with REAL ADHD has said wouldn't do anything), and the only reason she didn't keep on the medications the doctor put her on was because they weren't the easy-to-crush, snortable kind.

I'm pretty sure this friend claimed such, to a certain few people, to be a cliche angsty, "troubled" punk. After she had moved away from the area for a bit, she seemed to get this idea that you had to have issues to be a punk. I don't know.

But I have definitely seen people claim to have mental illnesses without having a clue about the things they're faking, and although alot of the time its for attention, sometimes it's just to fulfill some stereotype. Seriously, you don't have to be Depressed to be Goth, or be "crazy" to be Punk. But people fail to understand this.
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Re: Are mental health issues becoming a "trend?" - February 28th 2010, 05:15 AM

Whether or not they're a trend is a bit hard to say but I do agree with the ignorance people show towards what certain disorders actually are. This may be due to having criteria and symptoms posted online that can be accessed easily or it can be in part due to the media, or perhaps something else. I think part of it seems to be somewhat of a trend when I look at the "emo" style, which essentially can glorify depression, so much so that when someone appears "emo", they must be depressed in order for the stereotype to register as correct to someone. So, I do think certain mental illnesses are becoming more of a trend but certainly not all of them. Another one has to be with ADHD in that it's being diagnosed so much more and it's been questioned many times whether the increased rate is actually of legit patients or of a fad or trend.

However, there have historically been mental illness trends, such as the famous one of multiple personality disorder or DID. It all sparked mainly from 2 movies: Sybil and Two Faces of Eve. Before those movies, MPD was the rarest mental illness (or in the top few) with only about 70-75 cases. After that movie, over 40,000 cases were documented in a matter of around 10 years (bare in mind that the 70-75 cases prior were accumulated for more than 10 years). So, it is very reasonable to say that mental illnesses can become a trend or a fad.

You'd be surprised at how many actually have mental illnesses. In Canada, just as in the US, it's about 50% with some sort of mental illness, although there's always an issue of people who are mentally ill not seeking treatment so that number could realistically be higher. Due to the stigma associated with mental illnesses, many people do not reply in national health surveys, even if they are diagnosed so the number of around 50% is speculative, best thought of as a rough baseline although the real value as far as I know isn't known.

One of the reasons for this potential increases is that the DSM has been gradually introducing more and more mental illnesses, so things that were not viewed as illnesses now are. For example, caffeine withdrawl can be a mental illness. Another reason is that more doctors may be more lenient with their diagnoses because if they see that the rate of disorder X is increasing, then if their patient in front of them seems to be displaying symptoms of disorder X than a rarer disorder Y, it's more likely to be X than Y.

So, to summarize, yes there have been and potentially are mental illness trends or fads but only certain ones. There is also a large ignorance towards mental illnesses, some of which are very unusual and when studies are done, the results sometimes seem to boggle your mind as to how people can be this way. If you want, I'll post some as well as the links to the 50% rate I mentioned above, although you may need journal access (i.e. can only read the abstract).
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