For a site extremely focused on fixing bad thinking patterns, I've noticed a bizarre lack of discussion here. Considering the high correlation between intelligence and mental illness, you'd think it would be a bigger topic.
I personally suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a very tame panic disorder. Most of this is focused on financial and academic things, but I will also get panicky about social interaction, responsibilities, and things that happened in the past that seriously shouldn't bother me. I have an almost amusing response to anxiety that is basically my brain panicking and telling me to go hide under my desk.
I know lukeprog and Alicorn managed to fight off a good deal of their issues in this area and wrote up how, but I don't think enough has been done. They mostly dealt with depression. What about rational schizophrenics and phobics and bipolar people? It's difficult to find anxiety advice that goes beyond "do yoga while watching the sunrise!" Pop psych isn't very helpful. I think LessWrong could be. What's mental illness but a wrongness in the head?
Mental illness seems to be worse to intelligent people than your typical biases, honestly. Hiding under my desk is even less useful than, say, appealing to authority during an argument. At least the latter has the potential to be useful. I know it's limiting me, and starting cycles of avoidance, and so much more. And my mental illness isn't even that bad! Trying to be rational and successful when schizophrenic sounds like a Sisyphusian nightmare.
I'm not fighting my difficulties nearly well enough to feel qualified to author my own posts. Hearing from people who are managing is more likely to help. If nothing else, maybe a Rational Support Group would be a lot of fun.
There are rationalists talking about mental illness, but mostly offsite. Ozy talks about BPD among others, Kate and theunitofcaring talk about eating disorders among other things, I'm probably forgetting some.
Disclaimer: My opinions are solely my own and not based on psychological science (at least as far as I know).
I've always thought that things like depression and anxiety have some genetic component (the mix of chemicals in your brain) and some environmental 'trigger' component. You may not be able to do much about the genetic component, but if you get rid of the environmental component you can go a long way towards getting better.
I also have anxiety disorder. A lot of happiness has to do with being financially secure, having a fulfilling job/career, having a good social circle, eating well, having a good mix of hobbies, and working out. I've noticed that in my life whenever I was lagging in one or more of these areas, the anxiety and depression started bubbling up again. But whenever I tried taking care of these issues, I was mostly happy.
If someone is depressed, I don't think it will do to just give them some medications or tell them to do yoga, as you say. But maybe giving them meaningful employment or an exercise regimen will make them happy. Of course, people who are depressed get 'stuck' in a cycle where they are unable to 'break out' and obtain these things.
Again, these are solely my own opinions. Some of them might be stupid, others obvious.
May I ask a stupid question? How do people find out they are mentally ill? Obviously, I mean the not too severe cases. Let's take this GAD or tamer panic thing. During your childhood and youth you have reactions that people call "timid", "nervous", high strung" or "cowardly", depending on the situation and on them. I see four possible courses there.
A)One is you don't give a damn, you just accept it. It makes you less than happy but why would you ever expect to be happy? So you just accept some aspect of your life sucks.... (read more)
Reminder that CBT workbooks for specific problems have been shown to be almost as effective as in person therapies and that you can just buy them on Amazon.
referral link is for Slate Star Codex if you're wondering.
And it goes on and on, with no victory in sight.
I feel like I could fight the rest of my problems effectively with what I have (or at least, quickly learn otherwise) if I wasn't so paralyzed by Akrasia that the only resource I actually have is the ability to type incoherent comments into a small selection of websites.
I couldn't so... (read more)
I think cognitive delusions often maintain themselves by being non-falsifiable, and an explicit knowledge of epistemology might help people better use logic to compensate.
I managed to get a schizophrenic acquaintance who had anxiety-causing delusional ideas which originated in mind-body dualism to reject mind-body dualism, after carefully explaining why parsimony is a good way to distinguish between the various non-falsifiable hypotheses and how one can roughly approximate what is and is not parsimonious and why the mind instinctively gravitates to mind-b... (read more)
Very important. I think a lot of us need to pool together one day and write and release a general F.A.Q. that people can recursively apply to help themselves. It's risky but worth it.
If anyone is interested in actually being part of a support group of sorts, let me know- if enough people are interested, I'll see if I can find a good way to do it.
On what basis are you making that claim? Are there studies that suggest that such a correlation exists?
There's risk involved in giving medical advice over the internet. It's hard to fully understand another person if you just have text and no face to face interaction.
I can debug someone's phobia in a face to face interaction, but it's much harder to do anything productive over the internet.
Did you actually do that exercise and tried whether it's helpful for you?
I overcame depression a few years ago and have been meaning to write about how I did it, but honestly, the current me is so different from the old me, that I don't even remember how being depressed felt.
I do remember some of the things that got me out of the depression:
Coming independently to the insight that I should "Avoid Misinterpreting my Emotions". One day, I was sitting there thinking the same old depressed thoughts I'd usually thought. Something like "what's the purpose of doing anything." But, I realized that when those wor
I have anxiety/depression/ADHD and aspirations in conflict with my abilities and situation in life.
One strategy I have learned to employ which I consider "rational" is to approach maintenance of my mood and mental health as a limited resource allocation problem. One of the big leaps was learning to see my good mood as a limited resource which is spent as I think about potentially difficult or disturbing topics.
It is not "free" for me to consider all the ways I might do better in life, or past mistakes I have made, or ways the world is m... (read more)
My advice for anyone with any mental illness is to talk to somebody you can feel comfortable around about your problems. Often a therapist is that person, but not always. If you don't think your condition is serious enough to require medication, trying to discern the often minute differences between therapies can be more trouble than it's worth. Even if you discover the optimum therapy, there's no guarantee you'll get optimum implementation, eliminating the difference in value.
It's hard to give good advice on the topic of mental illness without falling into the trap of Other-Optimizing.
There are two battling narratives of mental illness. The first narrative says that mental illness is a disease of the mind, the second that it is a disease of the brain.
The "mind" story is that these illnesses come from bad ways of thinking, whether this be childhood trauma, diseased patterns of thoughts, etc. The treatment is therefore in psychotherapy, CBT, or other such. To the extent that this narrative is true, discussion of mental illness is likely relevant to rationality.
However, the other narrative is that mental illnesses come from chemi... (read more)
On of the best studied interventions for increasing happiness and thus help with issues like depression are gratitude exercises.
With a few friends I just started a group where everyone posts an audio message into a "What's up" before going to sleep about 5 good things that happened to him the last day. I'm just at day one, but I would expect the exercise to be very beneficial for both increasing happiness and creating group cohesion/friendships among LessWrong Meetup participants.
Examine.com seems like a great resource to find supplements to help with different types of mental disorders.
One of the more useful books I've read on the topic of mental illness is Adventures in Psychiatry by Dr. Abram Hoffer, a research scientist and medical doctor. He did the first double-blind studies of using vitamins to treat schizophrenia in the 1950s. He gave LSD to an architect to help the architect understand what patients may experience, so as to make the design of a clinic better. Those are just two examples of interesting things he did in his life.
The book can be hard to find on Amazon, or in brick-and-mortar book stores, but it can be ordered fro... (read more)
Why should LW be a mental consuler? No offense intended - but I bet there are people out there who will help more than anyone one LW can.