How Pop Culture Impacts Mental Health Treatment

abandoned asylum hallway

Asylums. Insulin shock therapy. Metrazol shock therapy. Electric shock treatment. All miracle cures for mental illness, right? If you read the newspaper in the 1940s, you might think so.

While reporting on the “high standard of psychiatric care” at new facilities at the Hillside Hospital in Queens, NY, in October 1941, The New York Times wrote, “The hospital has pioneered in the use of insulin and metrazol, and also in the electric shock treatment, which has proved useful in shortening the average stay of patients.”

“The electric treatment, they say, at least is not unpleasant, so the patient may be more inclined to cooperate with the physician in future treatments,” said The New York Times in 1940.

If you think these treatments sound more like a horror film, there’s a reason. Continue reading How Pop Culture Impacts Mental Health Treatment

5 Ways To Improve Your Body Image, Confidence, and Mental Health

woman in red sweater looking at small square mirror

Imagine what life would be like if we stood in front of the mirror and focused on what we love about ourselves instead of what we wish we could change?

It seems instead that a majority of us veer toward thinking negatively, giving attention to our so-called flaws. We are bombarded with images of beautiful celebrities and models on television, in magazines, and on billboards. Even our own cell phones — Instagram, I’m looking at you — can be culprits, inundating us with photographs of people who have likely slapped on a filter and Facetuned themselves to “perfection.” What’s the result? A never ending supply of edited images and a load of viewers feeling inadequate and uncomfortable in their own skin.

All of this leads to unrealistic expectations of what we should look like, dress like, and act like. As technology advances and we’re more connected than ever, it seems that self esteem — especially of millennials — declines. Recent studies show a definite link between social media usage and low self esteem. It’s way too easy to fall down a rabbit hole on Facebook or Instagram. You can be on your feed and next thing you know you’re on your ex-boyfriend’s sister’s best friend’s page wishing you had abs as great as hers. Continue reading 5 Ways To Improve Your Body Image, Confidence, and Mental Health

How to Manage Social Anxiety When Meeting Your SO’s Friends

man with girlfriend her friends in living room

My first experience meeting a significant other’s close friends was like being thrown into the lion’s den. I’m from a small rural town and had recently moved to a city. The group I was diving into was a suburban clique that had known each other since childhood.

I was in an unfamiliar place. People asked me lots of questions. I drank to relax. Long story short, it was awful.

Just getting out and dating with social anxiety comes with its own set of pitfalls and requires both courage and commitment. Now that you’ve jumped that hurdle, getting serious means meeting friends and family. This step of relationship growth can be a big social anxiety trigger.

Over the years, I searched for ways to make the best of meeting my partner’s friends, much to the benefit of the authors of the books I bought and therapist I paid. The following tips are what I learned and will help you have the best experience possible when meeting your significant other’s close friends or family. Before we dive in, my tips assume your partner knows about your social anxiety, your symptoms, and is committed to supporting you. If that’s not the case, that should be your first step. Continue reading How to Manage Social Anxiety When Meeting Your SO’s Friends

Meet Our Therapists: Matt Lawson

Matt Lawson Talkspace therapist head shot quote

Therapists are as unique as the clients who seek their help. Talkspace’s “Meet Our Therapists” series offers intimate access to the mental health professionals who provide care. It’s a view of their passion for making therapy more accessible. Check out our latest interview below!

Name: Matt Lawson

Licensing Info: Licensed Professional Counselor in Illinois

Where You Live: Chicago, Illinois

Time Working With Talkspace: 4 years

Time Working as a Therapist: 7 years

Why are you working in therapy/mental health?

I got into therapy as a second career and went back to school in my early 30s. I had my own personal training business at the time and was seeing more and more people with eating disorders, body image issues, and a lot of other problems they were using exercise to escape from. To provide a deeper level of service, I needed more education and insight. Continue reading Meet Our Therapists: Matt Lawson

How I Knew I Had Bipolar Disorder, Not Depression

mentally ill young woman double exposure

In 1997 I was a happy person. I had recently moved to a new city with my then-boyfriend, gotten a little distance from my family, and started attending university. I was working toward a bachelor’s of computer science. It was challenging, but I was handling it and feeling uplifted by the challenge.

I was used to a roller-coaster of moods through my earlier teenage years, but I thought that turbulence was behind me. I had no idea anything was brewing in my brain.

Unfortunately, by the end of 1998, my mental health had reached its breaking point. I had slid, little by little, into the vortex of a severe depression. By that time I was wishing for death every day, could barely get out of bed, and had turned to self-harm for some small measure of relief. I had no idea why these things were happening to me as nothing notable had preceded them, but they were obviously happening — brutally.

Continue reading How I Knew I Had Bipolar Disorder, Not Depression

Lying About Your Depression Will Make It Worse

lying child with fingers crossed behind back

In high school I lied to my doctor. My mother had long suspected I was dealing with depression. She talked to our family doctor about it and then scheduled an appointment for me.

When I went in for my check up, my doctor asked me if I was depressed. I lied. I told him that I was not depressed.

Continue reading Lying About Your Depression Will Make It Worse

Meet Our Therapists: Alicia Winkle

Alicia Winkle talkspace therapist headshot

Therapists are as unique as the clients who seek their help. Talkspace’s “Meet Our Therapists” series offers intimate access to the mental health professionals who provide care. It’s a view of their passion for making therapy more accessible. Check out our latest interview below!

Name: Alicia Winkle

Licensing Info: Licensed Professional Counselor [LPC #3290] in Alabama

Time Working With Talkspace: 2 years

Time Working as a Therapist: 5 years

Why are you working in therapy/mental health?

I’ve always wanted to be in the helping field. Originally, I was in school to be a nurse practitioner. After having anxiety issues myself and dropping out of nursing school and college for a semester, I changed my major to psychology. From there I decided I wanted to help people overcome their own obstacles and make changes in their lives by working as a therapist. I went back to school at the University of North Alabama and got my master’s degree in Community Counseling. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Continue reading Meet Our Therapists: Alicia Winkle

The Stigma of Depression

woman fading away in pieces illustration

The stigma of depression is alive.

When we have depression, we are “lesser people.” We are incapable of living a “normal” life, holding down a job, or keeping a relationship. We are the ones that “normal” people don’t know how to deal with. They keep away, because we are contagious. They don’t want to contract the “crazy.”

At least, this is what many people think. None of it is true, of course. This is the stigma that follows us around daily when we suffer from depression — like a mosquito we keep swatting away that keeps coming back to bite us.

On whom can we place the blame for the creation and longevity of the stigma? Our friends and family who don’t fully understand depression? The media? Society as a whole? Continue reading The Stigma of Depression

Divorcing A Sociopath

phrenology head in profile

It’s been nearly four years since I left my ex-husband. When I think back to that time, I think about how naive I was, how foggy and confused. I had never heard of a personality disorder. I still believed that dangerous people would be easy to spot, that they came wielding chain saws and screaming, “I’m a dangerous person!”

Sigh. There was so much I did not know.

Continue reading Divorcing A Sociopath

How Borderline Personality Disorder Impacts Relationships

black and white masks on stairs

Ben learns he is not allowed to take personal calls during business hours at his new job at a strict government agency. His supervisor gives him an emergency number so family members can reach him when absolutely necessary.

The news immediately fills him with dread. Ben’s daughter, Lisa, has borderline personality disorder. She calls him a few times a week, often while he’s at work. A supportive and understanding father, Ben was happy to chat with her at his old office where there were no limitations on phone calls.

Now he has to inform his daughter that their mid-week check ins will need to be less frequent and occur only in the evening. With noticeable reluctance, he provides the emergency number to Lisa.

Continue reading How Borderline Personality Disorder Impacts Relationships