About Me

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Personality Disorders are like tips of icebergs. They rest on a foundation of causes and effects, interactions and events, emotions and cognitions, functions and dysfunctions that together form the individual and make him or her what s/he is. I have always been interested in people, their ways of thinking and behaving. Studying psychology has partially satisfied my curiosity, however, I have also ended up more intrigued then ever! I have a great interest in neuropsychology or simply, the way our brains work. I have worked in various mental health environments and have seen the effects that absence of good mental health can have on people. However, I have also become much more aware of the ignorance and stigma, which is unfortunately, still attached to mental illnesses and mental instabilities. I have set up a web site as well as this blog to promote the awareness of mental health and the related issues, to help eliminate the prejudiced thinking prevalent in our societies. I hope both will develop into useful resources for different individuals and I look forward to all the interesting comments and posts from the readers, who are all welcome to sign up to the blog.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Racing Thoughts

It is normal for people to have several things going on in their minds at any given time. When planning for the day ahead, there are usually several things that should be done. But for some people, however, these multiple thoughts become too much for them to bear. They begin to show symptoms of irritability, uneasiness, slurred speech, and inability to concentrate.

Generally, racing thoughts are described as an event where the mind uncontrollably brings up random thoughts and memories and switches between them very quickly. Sometimes they are related, as one thought leads to another; other times they are completely random. A person suffering from an episode of racing thoughts has no control over his or her train of thought and this stops them from focusing on one topic or prevents sleeping.

Racing thoughts are not just "thinking fast." They are thoughts that just won't be quiet; they can be in the background of other thoughts or take over a person's consciousness. Thoughts, music, and voices might be zooming through one's mind. There also might be a repetitive pattern of voice or of pressure without any associated "sound". It is a very overwhelming and irritating feeling, and can result in losing track of time. Sometimes racing thoughts are accompanied by a pounding hearth or pounding pulses, including drumming in the ears.

The phenomenon called racing thoughts is distinct from "hearing voices," which is a symptom of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, severe mania or other psychotic disorders.

Racing thoughts can be a symptom of bipolar disorder, depression, OCD or a variety of other mood and anxiety disorders. They are also associated with use of amphetamines and sleep deprivation. Treatment is available for each of these conditions.

There some suggestions put forward that can help with racing thoughts: 

  • Do crossword puzzles - helps you to focus your thoughts on something specific instead of letting them roam. 
  • Read a book  - Especially one in which you can become absorbed. 
  • The chalkboard technique - Imagine a blackboard in your mind. As each thought comes to you, it is "written" on the chalkboard, which you instantly erase. Keep doing this with every thought as it comes. Eventually, you will tire yourself out and/or the thoughts will cease.  
  • Write in a journal  
  • Use a tape recorder: Just tape record your thoughts. This way you can speak as fast as your thoughts come to you. Eventually you will exhaust those thoughts (as well as your voice), and be able to sleep.

You may also want to read an article by Jordana Mansbacher entitled: Anxiety Reactions and Techniques to Stop Racing Thoughts

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Treating Bipolar Disorder

If you have bipolar disorder, taking medication is the key to reducing the frequency and severity of mood episodes. However, bipolar medications are most effective when used in conjunction with therapy and healthy lifestyle choices, including diet, exercise and support networks. These factors play an important role in managing symptoms of mania and depression and will also determine how much of medication is required.

It can take a while to find the right bipolar medication and dose. Everyone responds to medication differently thus several drugs might be tried before the one that works in a particular case is found. It may also take some time to establish the optimal dose, so it is important to work closely with a doctor. This is crucial since the medication should be re-evaluated on regular basis because the optimal dose fluctuates along the changes in a lifestyle. Medication should be continued even if a person feels better as the likelihood of having a relapse is very high.

All prescription drugs come with risks, but if taken RESPONSIBLY and especially, if combined with therapy and healthy lifestyle, the risks will be minimized and the efficiency of the treatment maximized. Responsibly here refers to the following:

- Medication is taken as prescribed
- Track of side effects is noted/recorded
- Being aware of potential drug interactions

Common Mood Stabilizers used in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder are:

1) LITHIUM, which is the oldest and most well-known mood stabilizer, highly effective for treating mania. It can also help bipolar depression, however, it is not as effective for mixed episodes or rapid cycling. Lithium takes from one to two weeks to reach its full effect. If lithium is taken, it is important to have regular blood tests to make sure the dose is in the effective range.

2) ANTICONVULSANTS, which have been shown to relieve the symptoms of mania and reduce mood swings. These include:

-Valproic acid (Depakote) – often the first choice for rapid cycling, mixed mania or mania with hallucinations or delusions.
-Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
-Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
-Topiramate (Topamax)

3) Natural Mood Stabilizers

Other medications used in treatment of bipolar include:

- ANTIDEPRESSANTS, however their use is becoming increasingly controversial
- BENZODIAZEPINES – fast acting sedatives that work within 30 minutes to an hour. These might be prescribed while a person is waiting for the medication to kick in, however these are also highly addictive so they should be used only as a 'temporary measure'.


Research shows that people who take medication for bipolar disorder tend to recover much faster and control their moods much better if they also get therapy. Therapy helps with coping strategies, monitoring the progress and dealing with problems that the disorder is causing in one's life.

If anyone wants to share their personal experience with regards to the treatment of Bipolar Disorder, please do so. This may prove invaluable for other readers. Thanks.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) versus Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

It has only been a few weeks since launching my personality disorders website and I must say, I am absolutely thrilled about the feedback and comments coming in. Many have already given their ideas and suggestions and I shall endeavour to consider and work on these to make sure that the site becomes a good and inspiring source of information.

A feedback from one OCD sufferer has initiated the content of this post, in which I would like to emphasize the DIFFERENCE between OCD and OCPD – two distinctly different conditions that are often the subject of much confusion. While they share similar names and some common symptoms between them, the two are very different forms of mental illness that should be recognized as such.

OCD is an anxiety-related disorder rather than a personality disorder. A person with OCD experiences frequent intrusive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts, often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges. Compulsions are repetitive physical behaviours and actions or mental thought rituals that are performed over and over again in an attempt to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessional thoughts.

OCPD is a condition in which a person is preoccupied with rules, orderliness and control. It is a type of personality disorder marked by rigidity, control, perfectionism, and an over-concern with work at the expense of close interpersonal relationships. People with OCPD tend to stress perfectionism above everything else, and feel anxious when they perceive that things are not right. They may hoard money, keep their home perfectly organized, or be anxious about delegating tasks for fear that they will not be completed correctly.

So how do we best distinguish between the conditions?

As expressed by the OCD suffer herself, “...those with OCPD are usually controlling, dislike delegating, and rarely seek treatment of their volition as they think they are right, whereas those with OCD are tortured by anxiety and would do anything to get rid of their obsessions”.

The biggest difference between OCD and OCPD is the fact that obsessions and compulsions do not exist in OCPD in the same sense they exist for sufferers of OCD. OCD sufferers tend to spend much more of their time dealing with rituals and repeated actions than those with OCPD and they are usually distressed by having to carry out these tasks or rituals. In contrast, people with OCPD view activities such as excessive list making or organization of items around the home as necessary and even beneficial.

Finally, whereas the severity of OCD symptoms will often fluctuate over time, OCPD is chronic in nature, with little change in personality style. As such, both condition subsequently require a specific treatment.