In Mind

Is Mental Heath Really A Disease?

My guest post first appeared on Melissa Flickinger’s fabulous blog and is reprinted here with her permission.

Have you ever had a bad day? Did you know there was probably a mental health diagnosis for it?

There are many severe mental illnesses that people suffer with as a chronic disease on a daily basis. I’m not talking about those. What I want to discuss is our love for labeling.

There is a manual called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). which is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). It is relied upon by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, the legal system, and policy makers. Pretty much anyone dealing with mental issues uses this book as the holy grail of psychiatric diagnosis to properly classify and regulate care for a specific mental issue.

The first DSM manual, published in 1952, was 86 pages long and listed 60 mental disorders. The current one, now in its 5th edition, is 947 pages long and includes 450 mental disorders including brain fog and anxiety.

Do we really need an official mental health diagnosis for brain fog?

Especially since brain fog should be looked at from a physiological lens (brain fog is typically due to allergies, diet, medication and/or stress).

The need to over diagnose and over label mental issues that aren’t really mental could actually be dangerous to our children as well.Click To Tweet

‘Sluggish Cognitive Tempo’ is a ridiculous name for an even crazier concept. Its main characteristics are vaguely described but include some combination of daydreaming, lethargy and slow mental processing in children.

When I was a kid, I used to love spending a warm summer day laying under our gigantic willow tree dreaming up all the things I want to do when I grow up. I could lay there on the soft grass for hours thinking and playing out different scenarios in my head. Now, that childlike behavior is considered a mental disease affecting over 2 million american children according to the APA.

This concept would be comical if it not so scary because big pharma is actively looking for a drug treatment for, “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”.

Our chronic desire to fix ourselves and our children with medication is making us a nation of zombies. We are literally numbing the minds of our young, killing their creativity and sense of wonder to make them conform to our concept of what normal should be.

What would happen if we treated anxiety by teaching tools to process information instead of treating it as a mental health issue? We all get anxiety from time to time, it part of life. Why do we need to label it as a disease?

We have created a culture that needs to either keep up or med up. There is no more room for laying under a tree and thinking about life. Today that is considered a mental disorder that needs to be treated with medication.

Again, I fully understand that there are many mental issues that need counseling and medication and I completely support that — but there are just as many that can be treated by teaching actual coping skills on how to deal with life. Also, for some, a simple diet adjustment that could make all the difference.

We should take a holistic approach first by making sure diet, exercise, and a healthy environment is in order first before we jump into medication.

Give kids a chance to grow up without a label and teach them processing skills so when they have a moment and are upset, they don’t need to run to the doctor for drugs when they grow up.

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