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  • Laura Goorin: So, the myth that all neat freaks

  • have OCD is a common one.

  • Most people who are clean

  • just actually care about being clean,

  • and that's totally different than having OCD.

  • Also, there are no five stages of loss.

  • It's just a myth.

  • Narrator: That's Laura Goorin,

  • one of three psychologists we brought into our studios

  • to debunk some of the most common mental-health myths.

  • Goorin: So, the myth that most people with schizophrenia

  • have multiple personalities,

  • that was a very old way that it was understood,

  • and it's been proven to not be true.

  • So, with schizophrenia, it's not another personality.

  • What it is, though, is a break with reality

  • and a part of ourselves, maybe, for instance,

  • that believes that someone is out to get them.

  • OK, so that's a really common one with schizophrenia.

  • So the myth that all "neat freaks" have OCD is a common one.

  • It seems like it's almost a popular cultural thing

  • that people say to each other, "You have OCD,"

  • when somebody is, like, organizing their bag.

  • And, in reality, OCD itself,

  • the illness has different components.

  • And one of the subsets

  • is the keeping things organized and clean.

  • But it has to be at an obsessive level,

  • where people are thinking about it all the time.

  • And so that itself is really uncommon.

  • Most people who are clean

  • just actually care about being clean.

  • And that's totally different than having OCD.

  • Jillian Stile: Bipolar disorder is not simply mood swings.

  • It's a very high elevation of maybe a positive mood

  • and a very low, negative mood.

  • Everybody has mood swings.

  • But with bipolar disorder, it's not just that.

  • It's severe forms of elevated mood or depressed mood,

  • and they cycle through that.

  • And so sometimes it could be shown

  • as symptoms of, like, a manic episode,

  • might be somebody, like,

  • hypersexuality or not sleeping at all

  • and things like that.

  • It's not simply feeling good.

  • Goorin: This is a common myth,

  • and I hear people throw this one around a lot too.

  • Anxiety itself is thinking, thinking, thinking.

  • And just imagine yourself

  • going into the worry thoughts of "what if."

  • What if, what if this happens, what if that happens.

  • And it's unremitting,

  • and it goes on for hours for some people.

  • Sometimes it's more passing for others.

  • But being stressed out about something,

  • as humans, we're wired to handle stressors,

  • and we've been dealing with an onslaught of stressors

  • since the beginning of time.

  • You know, going to work, taking the subway,

  • coming in contact with other people. You know,

  • that can be stressful. That can be stress-inducing.

  • Unless you have an actual, like, panic attack

  • while you're taking the subway,

  • that would be more of an anxiety reaction,

  • whereas the stress of taking the subway

  • is more stress-based.

  • Stile: You know, everybody feels anxious, let's say,

  • before a presentation or before an exam.

  • But an anxiety disorder is the extreme form of that

  • where it becomes, you know,

  • it interferes with somebody's daily functioning.

  • Goorin: This is actually a really important myth.

  • Sadness is an ephemeral reaction to something.

  • It's an emotion and, by definition, lasts a few seconds.

  • It can last, like, 10 minutes, but on average,

  • we have an emotion, it passes,

  • and then we have another emotion.

  • The thing that tends to bring us

  • from sadness to depression is rumination,

  • which means thinking and thinking and thinking

  • about the thing over and over and over again.

  • And that's how we then go from sadness to depression,

  • but it's not an immediate thing.

  • We all have moments of sadness,

  • and we just allow them and let them pass.

  • We tend to be OK.

  • But if we get caught up in getting ruminating

  • and thinking about all the reasons why we're sad,

  • that's when we tend to go into depression.

  • So, to the myth that depression is not a real illness,

  • it is a real illness,

  • and, in fact, it can be incredibly debilitating.

  • In order to classify as having depression,

  • we have to have some kind of a lethargic kind of behavior

  • where we have trouble getting out of bed.

  • I mean, there are different ways of depression,

  • but one of the primary ones has this,

  • what they're called neurovegetative symptoms,

  • like, where we can't sleep, where we can't eat.

  • There's also a kind of depression which is dysthymia,

  • which has an anhedonia component into it,

  • which means less pleasure in things that we used to enjoy,

  • which is another kind of depression.

  • And a lot of people will describe, like,

  • "Oh, I used to love pottery,

  • and now I can't even look at pots."

  • You know? Like, something just totally changes for them

  • when they're deeply in this state of depression.

  • Neil Altman: Talking about painful things

  • that you've learned how to sort cover over

  • can initially be more painful

  • but in the interest of working out things

  • that if not dealt with straightforwardly

  • are gonna come back to bite them.

  • I'll say another thing about that

  • is that sometimes patients wonder,

  • "What's the therapist gonna feel if I say thus and so?"

  • Like, "Can the therapist handle

  • the level of despair that I sometimes feel?"

  • And on those occasions,

  • when the patient has the strength to put it out there

  • and see how the therapist responds,

  • the fact that the therapist can handle it

  • is a big step toward

  • the patient then being able to handle it.

  • There are reasons, and they may change over time.

  • But I think the thing that I would want to debunk

  • in that respect

  • is the idea that there's a single reason.

  • So that if you handle that,

  • then you're gonna be freed of that.

  • And there's not.

  • In most cases, there's not.

  • You've got to discover the reasons, in the plural,

  • that you're depressed and what you can do something about.

  • And what you can't.

  • Stile: The myth that only women get depressed

  • couldn't be further from the truth.

  • However, women are twice as likely to experience depression.

  • So, the reason why oftentimes people think

  • women have a higher rate of depression than men

  • is because of maybe hormonal changes,

  • life circumstances, and stress.

  • The other thing that I like to think about

  • is that women might express their feelings

  • in a different way than men do.

  • So, sometimes men might, you know, act out behaviorally,

  • whereas women might focus on their internal experience.

  • And so they might be more likely

  • to see a therapist if that's the case.

  • Goorin: When people have gone down the road

  • of eventually deciding to go on medications

  • for antidepressants,

  • they don't change your personality;

  • they change the symptoms of depression.

  • They can also work for anxiety.

  • So, typically, if you have

  • just typical symptoms of depression and anxiety,

  • we'll be given an antidepressant

  • is what it's called, an SSRI.

  • And that will help us regulate the symptoms

  • of our, just, up and down of moods.

  • And the way I describe it to people is

  • it's like going back to your baseline you

  • when it's the right medication.

  • But it doesn't change your personality.

  • Your personality, you're you.

  • So, in terms of the myth that we'll always be cured

  • from depression by antidepressants,

  • the research shows that the most effective thing right now

  • for depression is actually therapy.

  • And then for people who need antidepressants,

  • therapy and antidepressants together

  • are another effective form.

  • And not everybody has to take it.

  • So even with people who are taking antidepressants,

  • it's important to still be in therapy.

  • Altman: The myth that bad parenting causes mental illness

  • I think is a trap.

  • Because parents are all too ready

  • to take responsibility and to feel guilty

  • about all sorts of problems that their children have.

  • So there's no point in reinforcing that

  • and harming and damaging the mental health of parents.

  • If you think that your parents caused your mental illness,

  • you're gonna end up endlessly complaining about your parent.

  • What can you do about the way you were raised?

  • You can do something about what it's left you with

  • in the present.

  • Goorin: Around LGBT adults and youth,

  • there's so many myths associated with mental health.

  • And a big part of it I think is,

  • unfortunately, because the profession that I'm in

  • had a really dirty history along these lines in the DSM,

  • which is our Diagnostic Statistic Manual, until 1973,

  • homosexuality was actually listed as a disorder.

  • And after a lot of pushback and studies

  • and LGBTQ rights being integrated into theory,

  • we realized that that was really outdated.

  • And since then, in DSM-3, it stopped being,

  • unless somebody has specific anxiety related to being gay,

  • then they're not diagnosed ever

  • with a mental-health-related disorder associated with it.

  • The same is true for being trans, actually.

  • That it's only if somebody has what's called dysphoria,

  • where they don't like their body,

  • that they then have a diagnosis.

  • But just being trans in and of itself

  • isn't a disorder anymore.

  • You know, to the question about what role

  • mental health plays in the attacks of gun violence,

  • unfortunately, that's been a mischaracterization

  • of people who have severe mental illness,

  • is that they're more likely to commit crimes and with guns.

  • It's not that people with mental illness

  • are more likely to be aggressive.

  • It's the people who commit these crimes have access to guns,

  • and they tend to be really self-loathing.

  • Like, that's kind of the primary thing

  • that makes people have a lack of empathy.

  • That seems to be the things

  • that make them be more violent and aggressive.

  • Those are better predictors

  • than any type of a mental health disorder.

  • People talk about a whole town, like, on the news,

  • "A whole town was traumatized by the shooting,"

  • for instance. Right?

  • And it doesn't work that way, and that's actually

  • one of the most common mental-health disorders

  • that I've seen mischaracterized

  • in that particular way, is PTSD.

  • People seem to think that by virtue of having the experience

  • to a potentially traumatic event,

  • that you'll have these particular realm of symptoms

  • that include hypervigilance, there's impulsivity.

  • There's so many different realms

  • of what comes up for people after trauma,

  • and I've heard people say, you know,

  • "Because I was traumatized,

  • because I was there at 9/11," for instance.

  • Well, a whole city was there,

  • and we have really good numbers

  • about the number of people who ended up having PTSD,

  • and they're actually really small.

  • When something like this happens,

  • a major tragedy like a gun shooting or a 9/11

  • or any other type of tragedy like that,

  • people tend to be resilient.

  • There's a big myth, actually,

  • even within the mental-health field

  • saying that there are prototypical ways

  • to respond to grief and loss.

  • And that's in pop culture as well,

  • that people have these ideas

  • that there's one way to grieve

  • and if we're not devastated and deeply traumatized

  • that somehow we're in denial or unfeeling.

  • And that's not true.

  • In fact, since the beginning of time,

  • we've been dealing with death.