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Thursday 13 June 2019

Walk Across England: Wainwright's Coast to Coast Trail

Some people like a solitary retreat; others like a long walk. How about a 330 kilometer walk from the Irish Sea to the North Sea? In spring 2018 I did the popular Wainwright's route solo. Here are some visuals from the trip, in case it's something you might like to do one day.

Depression Versus Mumps: Continuum Versus Dichotomy?

We often use physical illnesses as convenient metaphors for psychological difficulties, but there is always a bit of slippage in the analogy. In this short video I point out a basic problem in most psychiatric diagnosis: Most mental health challenges sit on continua; they are not "yes-or-no" dichotomies.

Well, fine. So what? This can lead us into trouble when diagnosing, and raises the inconvenient question of the utility of much diagnostic work.

Monday 3 June 2019

Is Depression Normal?

In recent posts I've been pointing out that some of the symptoms we associate with depression are somewhat predictable given circumstance and lifestyle.

Does this mean that depression can be a "normal" response? And if so, does this mean it isn't really a disorder in these cases? In this post, let's argue the opposite side of the coin. Knowing the cause of a problem doesn't stop it being a problem.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

The Kidnapping Question

When assessing someone with depression, one of the things that psychologists look at is the person's daily schedule and routine. Often this gives some significant hints about why the person might be feeling as they do.

When I finish up an assessment like this, I often invite the person to imagine that we gave their own life to a dozen strangers. Twenty four hours a day, they would live exactly as the client lives. After a month, we would see how they were feeling. The usual answer is that they would be depressed.

Huh. But that would mean that the depressive reaction was normal, not disordered...

Here's a post on the topic from my new VLog on YouTube, How to be Miserable. Consider subscribing to it within YouTube if seeing these posts on depression, anxiety, failure to launch, and psychotherapy might be of interest to you.

Sunday 26 May 2019

Depression Tends to Snowball

Most of the problems that trouble us - flu, mumps, other illnesses - have identifiable causes and result in specific symptoms. The symptoms are, in effect, end-points in a causal chain.

In depression the symptoms tend to feed back on the problem and intensify the other symptoms, resulting in a snowball effect - or, to go to the other end of the heat spectrum, a wildfire.

In this post I discuss this phenomenon and what it means for treatment.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

The Return of the Blog: How to be Miserable, the VLog

Hello everyone,

I haven't updated the blog in quite a while, as I have been working on a new book to be released in March 2020, as well as a few other projects.

Today I'd like to announce the return of the blog on a new platform: YouTube. I have launched the How to be Miserable channel here:

Here is the introductory video:

And here are the first few launch posts:




I hope you like this new format. Coming posts will focus on topics including:

  • Clinical depression
  • Anxiety and stress-related problems
  • Positive psychology
  • Seeking out psychotherapy
  • Mental health policy
  • Sexuality and sexual orientation
  • The transition from adolescence to independent adulthood

Consider subscribing by pressing the "SUBSCRIBE" button in YouTube, and please feel free to add questions and comments. I monitor the comments feeds and in coming posts I will respond to issues that arise. I hope that you like the new channel!

I will also be posting links to posts here, but can't claim that I will be completely reliable or prompt about this, as simply developing and maintaining the YouTube VLog is a lot of work!

Have a wonderful spring!