Giving a Voice to the Silence offers positive angles to the issue that faces those with mental illness. Living with Schizo-Affective Disorder and being able to share my experiences with others, is the best way I know how to pay it forward. Life can be difficult, my goal is to bring a bit of hope to a place where many feel there is none.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The New Face of a Nervous Breakdown

Sign warning of possible electric shock hazardImage via WikipediaNervous Breakdown, not a word that is heard much anymore, today we have names that are more specific to what was once referred to as a Nervous Breakdown. In the 1950's and 60's, having a nervous breakdown was a polite way of saying there is a problem, and we are taking care of it, and would refer to everything from a bad day to a psychotic episode. The idea of mental illness being spoken out loud was unheard of. Today, things are different. The advances in the field of psychiatry that have been made over the years, along with public knowledge is encouraging people to talk about topics that once were only whispered between family members.

In the 19th century the "cure" for a nervous breakdown consisted of rest, isolation and/or preventing all stimulation. The 20th century brought hydrotherapy, electric shock treatments, insulin treatment or a lobotomy. During these periods of time long-term commitments in institutions were common. The 1950's brought a new anxiety medication, Milltown, and marketed to both men and women in an attempt to calm women's nerves and pressure men felt at work. It was marketed with the idea that modern society was moving too fast for those who had been sheltered from the realities of life. Today treatments can include antipsychotic medications, people are now more educated and willing to approach their issues head on and not hide behind code words and silence. They are more likely to seek support groups, medication and focus living a ‘normal’ life.

In 1952 there were only 106 mental disorder listen in the DSM, today in the 4th and current edition includes 297 listings. The code words have not completely disappeared though, in Hollywood it more often referred to as "exhaustion," when stars and musicians find themselves "in trouble."

It is common knowledge that everyone has a point where they just feel they can not take anymore; they reach their "breaking point." It is not a secret or abnormal, everyone has that point where they just need to take a break from life. In many cases, a day off to relax and do things for yourself are what are needed. For those who need something more, it is no longer seen as a bad thing, there is more understanding and help available. We just need to seek out that help.