Saturday, June 19, 2010

Celebrity Rehab, Intervention, Hoarders and Obsessed: Media brings light to mental health disorders

So, is that the way is REALLY is? This is a common question people ask when discussing these increasingly popular reality shows. Over the last several years, mental health disorders have been in the spotlight in television shows like Celebrity Rehab, Intervention, Hoarders and Obsessed. But is their portrayal of these disorders accurate?

Yes. And no. Mental illness and mental health disorders are complex, and are never that cut and dried. The facts are sobering (pun intended) and the reality is that, according to statistic from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), 26.2 percent of adults aged 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year. That's more than 1 in 4. 57.7 million people. Staggering. Preventable? Maybe. Treatable? Definitely.

Approximately 6 percent of those suffer from what is called a "serious mental illness". And, nearly half of those diagnosed with one mental health disorder, are diagnosed with 2 or more. Mental disorders are the number 1 cause of disability in the United States.

Some of the most common disorders are Mood Disorders (Depression, Bipolar Disorder), Anxiety Disorders (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety and Phobia, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), Disorders in Childhood (Autism, Aspergers), Eating Disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder), as well as Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

So, is the way that television portrays these disorders accurate? In a very generalized way, the individuals featured on these shows represent the extreme examples of the mental health disorders. Are there actually people who hoard items to the point that they cannot move in their homes? Sure. But more than likely, most patients have a combination of symptoms and a lesser form of hoarding.

When should you get help for a mental health disorder? If your symptoms are interfering with your normal daily routine, you are missing work, or your happiness is compromised, it is time to seek assistance. There are many very effective, research based, time limited treatments for many disorders, and finding an experienced and skilled psychologist is important in recovery. A psychologist is a professional who is most likely a doctor, and has specialized training and extensive experience in diagnosis, assessment and treatment of most common mental health disorders.

Do I need medication? Maybe, but not necessarily. Most mental health disorders respond quite well to therapy with a skilled psychologist. Some people have an imbalance in their chemical makeup, and require medication while they are developing skills to manage their symptoms. Psychologists will assess the need for referral to a psychiatrist. The fact is, that the majority of people receive anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and stimulants for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) from their primary care physician. A psychiatrist is an important part of any medication plan and should communicate regularly with the psychologist.

Where to turn? Several sources list outpatient providers of psychological and psychiatric services. Check with the provider to see if they accept insurance or for payment structures. Clink on one of the links below to find a licensed psychologist.;jsessionid=9C5178BA07C75DFB7B7266E65D58477F.mc1

For more information about mental health disorders see the website of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) ( or the website of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association (

Or, for more information ASK ME!! You don't have to suffer alone....


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