Monthly Archives: July 2013

Aside

An excellent infographic explaining bipolar disorder: symptoms, prevalence, treatment   —  Find it here

A new 3 min. online self-test for depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder

I just tried a new online tool from Mental Health America called “How’s Your Mood Today?” that can help you evaluate whether things you’re thinking,  doing, or feeling may in fact be symptoms of one of these four, perhaps not yet diagnosed, mental disorders.

mhaBecause of the continuing stigma about mental illness, one of the hardest things for many of us is to seek help for bonafide symptoms of depression, and anxiety — or one of the other two less-common disorders, PTSD or Bipolar Disorder. Here’s a simple way to find out if some bothersome or distressing symptoms you  may be experiencing add up to a possible mental health disorder for which you should seek help — right away!

Before recommending it to you I tried it myself. After filling out the quick multiple choice questionnaire (truly took 90 sec) with answers that described the me of 12 years ago —  before I began using antidepressants to treat my (lifelong) depression and anxiety disorder –I found the (instant assessment) that popped up to be very accurate. It described me as someone displaying symptoms of moderate depression and therefore in need of professional evaluation and possible treatment. One thing I like very much in this test is its emphasis on identifying symptoms that interfere with some aspect of your life.

If you haven’t yet found the courage and/or financial resources to actually go to a clinic or public mental health department for such a screening, taking this test would be a solid first step to give you a better idea of how serious your symptoms are right now.

Here’s how MHA describes the tool:

Mental Health America  provides the only online test that screens for depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD and anxiety. The innovative online mood-screening tool is offered in partnership with M3 which created this medically proven checklist for mental health well-being.

Visitors simply need to click on the box in the upper right corner of the Mental Health America home page labeled “How’s Your Mood Today” to start the three-minute self-assessment process. The customized assessment provides a score that a person can then share with his or her physician and monitor over time.

Among the most popular things I offer on this Mental Health Mom blog are the self and family member psych tests (on the top bar). This new test is worth doing and it’s free. Here again is the link: http://bit.ly/XVa3mS

A Footnote to the Jenny McCarthy Public Health Threat: MMR Vaccines NEVER Contained Thimersol

Jenny-The-View-132467-9094-300x215The following came today from one of our PLOS Bloggers, Seth Mnookin, whose book, The Panic Virus chronicles the rise of the antivaccine movement,  including its celebrity spokesperson du jour, Jenny McCarthy. In the book, and his recent blog posts, Mnookin profiles McCarthy and recounts how the antivaxx message has scared parents out of getting proper immunizations for babies and young children — in the process posing a grave threat to kids’ health; one that has already resulted in pertussis and measles outbreaks in the US and UK.

Needless to say, giving McCarthy a daily TV platform such as The View to spew such misinformation is a BAD IDEA. A petition to get ABC to reverse its Jenny McCarthy hiring is circulating and can be found here: http://www.change.org/petitions/abc-s-the-view-just-say-no-to-adding-jenny-mccarthy-to-the-view

 Although Seth addresses his post to other science and health journalists, its message is equally relevant to today’s parents.

A PSA to journalists writing about vaccines: Thimerosal was never used in the MMR vaccine

By Seth Mnookin
Posted: July 16, 2013

The shameless and lamentable decision on the part of ABC to hire Jenny McCarthy as one of its co-hosts for the daytime talk show The View has, once again, brought the topic of vaccines and autism into the news. Fortunately, the spineless “on the one hand, on the other hand” reporting that characterized this debate for so many years has, for the most part, been replaced by an almost universal acknowledgment that vaccines are a safe, life-saving public health intervention — and that there is not now and never has been the smallest shred of evidence showing a causal link between any vaccine and autism.

As someone who’s been reporting on and writing about this issue for five years, I know how confusing it all can be — and anti-vaccine activists (like McCarthy orRFK Jr.) take advantage of this confusion by moving the goalposts, throwing up smokescreens, and generally doing whatever they can to obfuscate the reality of the situation. (When there aren’t any facts on your side, your only hope is to create enough distractions so that the public forgets what the real issue was in the first place.)

Which is why I get a little nuts when I see well-meaning journalists who are attempting to grapple seriously with the issue make basic mistakes. Take thisLos Angeles Times story titled “Jenny McCarthy on ‘View’: A new forum for discredited autism theories.” After running through the sorry history of charlatan/opportunist Andrew Wakefield’s efforts to scare people into thinking the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine could cause autism, the author writes (the emphasis, obviously, is mine):

Subsequent efforts to replicate Wakefield’s findings failed. But vaccination rates began a steep decline anyway, and a new generation of parent activists — skeptics of the biomedical industry’s claim on their children — was born. Meanwhile, the findings spurred additional research, which suggested that the specific culprit in the MMR vaccine was the widely used preservative thimerosol.

I’ll say this as clearly as I can: The MMR vaccine does not and never didcontained thimerosal. (This mistake is made so often that the FDA has included it as one of it’s FAQ’s about thimerosal.) It’s a small, niggling point in this larger debate — but when the anti-vaccine movement’s entire tactic is to blur reality, it’s crucially important that those of us dedicated to uncovering and reporting the truth make sure we get every last detail right.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… Here is Seth Mnookin’s four part series on McCarthy and her antivaxx movement:

http://blogs.plos.org/thepanicvirus/2013/07/15/a-jenny-mccarthy-reader-pt-1-the-birth-of-a-star-and-an-embrace-of-crystal-children/