Asperger Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (or Pervasive Developmental Disorder) characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. Those with Asperger Syndrome, or AS, may exhibit a lack of empathy for their peers, clumsiness, and atypical use of language, though none of these symptoms are required for a diagnosis.1
The pain of coming to terms with having Asperger's is still very real for me right now. There is a tremendous sense of grief. Grief for all that I suffered through to try to be "normal" and grief for how short of "normal" I always have been. There is also great relief to know that I am not crazy and that not everything can be traced back to an abusive past in the sense that some of what I experience is not choice/emotional but neurons/physical. The greatest challenge I face right now is trying to figure out which is which. This is not easy.
One of the most common side effects of a number of antidepressant medications is loss of sex drive. I could forgive our friends at fine companies such as Eli Lilly, Bristol Meyers Squibb, and Pfizer if dry mouth, irritability, disrupted sleep patterns, loss of appetite, sloth, and social phobia were the sole issues related to the medications I take on a daily basis. However, it is the sex thing I find most challenging.
Anhedonia is the technical term for the inability to experience joy. When people are in the depths of depression, nothing touches them, not the most intensely pleasurable activities, not the most familiar comforts. They are emotionally frozen. In this state, people either have to get professional help or simply wait for weeks or months until the depression lifts by itself; nothing is going to make them feel better.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness which affects one person in every hundred.
Depression is perhaps the most common of all mental health problems, currently felt to affect one in every four adults to some degree. Depression is a problem with mood/feeling in which the mood is described as sad, feeling down in the dumps, being blue, or feeling low. While the depressed mood is present, evidence is also present which reflects the neurochemical or "brain chemistry" aspects of depression with the depressed individual experiencing poor concentration/attention, loss of energy, accelerated thought/worry, sleep/appetite disturbance, and other physical manifestations. When this diagnosis is present, the individual will exhibit at least five of the following symptoms during the depressive periods:
When a person is experiencing psychological or emotional difficulties (hereafter called "mental health problems"), they may well attend their GP. The GP will interview them and based on the nature and severity of the persons symptoms may either recommend treatment himself or refer the person on to a specialist. There can seem a bewildering array of such specialists, all with rather similar titles, and one can wonder as to why they've been referred to one specialist rather than another. In this article I give an outline of the qualifications, roles and typical working styles of these specialists. This may be of interest to anyone who is about to, or already seeing, these specialists.
Although not a mental health specialist, the GP is a common first contact for those with mental health problems. A GP is a doctor who possesses a medical degree (usually a five-year course) and has completed a one-year "pre-registration" period in a general hospital (six-months on a surgical ward and six-months on a medical ward as a "junior house officer"). Following this a GP has completed a number of six-month placements in various hospital-based specialities – typical choices include obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, psychiatry and/or general medicine. Finally, a year is spent in general practice as a "GP registrar" under the supervision of a senior GP. During this period, most doctors will take examinations to obtain the professional qualification of the Royal College of General Practitioners ("Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners", or MRCGP). Others qualifications, such as diplomas in child health, may also be obtained.
The GP is thus a doctor with a wide range of skills and experience, able to recognise and treat a multitude of conditions. Of course the necessity of this wide range of experience places limits on the depth of knowledge and skills that they can acquire. Therefore, if a patient's condition is rare or, complicated, or particularly severe and requiring hospital-based treatment, then they will refer that patient on to a specialist.
Focusing on mental health problems it will be noted that whilst the majority of GP's have completed a six-month placement in psychiatry, such a placement is not compulsory for GP's. However, mental health problems are a common reason for attending the GP and, subsequently, GP's tend to acquire a lot of experience "on the job".
Most GP's feel able to diagnose and treat the common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. The treatments will typically consist of prescribing medication (such as antidepressants or anxiolytics) in the first instance. If these are ineffective, alternative medication may be tried, or they may refer the patient to a specialist. GP's are more likely to refer a patient to a specialist immediately if their condition is severe, or they are suicidal, or they are experiencing "psychotic" symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.
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