Mental disorder

Carrie Fisher Had Cocaine and Opiates in Her System at Time of Death

Fabrizio Maltese

“My mom battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it,” the late actress’ daughter said.

Carrie Fisher had cocaine and opiates in her system when she died of a heart attack last December, according to a coroner’s report obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

In addition to the aforementioned substances, the late Star Wars actress had methadone in her system, according to the report from the Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office.

The family objected to a full autopsy, the report notes.

Despite the substances discovered through toxicology tests, the medical examiner said it…

Carrie Fisher’s death shines a light on an underrated health problem

Carrie Fisher arrives for the European premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in London’s Leicester Square on Dec. 16, 2015. (Paul Hackett/Reuters)

Actress Carrie Fisher was unabashedly vocal about her lifelong battles with mental illness and drug abuse. She once defiantly told ABC News, “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it. But bring it on.”

Her candor inspired a generation of women. If a cool and funny Hollywood icon could be so open about getting help for her struggles, then so could they.

But a disorder that ultimately contributed to Fisher’s death was something she hadn’t publicly said much about: sleep apnea.

Fisher died Dec. 27, four days after she had a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles.

In a news release Friday, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office said sleep apnea — where a person repeatedly stops breathing during sleep, sometimes more than 100 times a night — was a contributing factor in her death, according to the Associated Press.

The medical examiner still listed the cause of Fisher’s death as “undetermined,” according to the AP. Other contributing factors were her ingestion of multiple unspecified drugs and a buildup of fatty tissue in her arteries.

But that the 60-year-old dealt with sleep apnea wasn’t widely known. It’s unclear if Fisher even knew she had it.

Grace Pien, a sleep specialist with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said that silence is something Fisher has in common with the legion of female sufferers of sleep apnea.

More than 18 million Americans have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Doctors cannot detect the disorder during a routine examination and it is the leading cause of daytime fatigue, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Symptoms include snoring and gasping for breath in one’s sleep. Untreated, sleep apnea could increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and heart failure, according to the National Institutes of Health. And one…

10 Successful Entrepreneurs Who Struggle Through Mental Illnesses

The social stigma around mental illness prevails despite one in five Americans suffering from some form of cognitive disorder. Perhaps there’s no better way to change people’s perception of mental health than examples of wildly successful people who worked through similar situations.

The people on this list are exceptional leaders and successful entrepreneurs in their respective fields. They’re all well known for their success as entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and innovators. Yet they’ve all had to overcome insurmountable odds and various mental illnesses to get there.

1. Steve Jobs

If you’ve ever read Steve Jobs’ biography, you probably know he was impossible to work with. Jobs actually suffered from a form of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, or OCPD. This led to him obsess over details and design flaws, rather than be compassionate to his partners and employees.

Jobs channeled his obsessive nature to create the best designed products the world had ever seen, but he struggled to make meaningful connections and was an argumentative boss.

2. Howard Hughes

The late Howard Hughes was a lot of things over the course of his illustrious life. He was a wildly successful and well known businessman, investor, pilot, film director, and philanthropist. He also suffered from obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD).

His condition took a toll on his physical wellbeing later in life, but his achievements live on in his films and work.

3. Henry J Heinz

In his diary, marketing wizard Henry Heinz wrote that he felt compelled to work himself to the point of burnout. He said he would wear himself out rather than “rust” at home.

Heinz carried…

Up to 7000 Former Mental Institution Patients are Buried Beneath a Mississippi Medical Center

Mississippi’s first insane asylum was established in 1855 in Jackson, thanks to the advocacy of Dorothea Dix. It was a step up from having no services for the mentally ill at all, but it wasn’t great. Like many asylums, the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum became a warehouse for people forgotten by their families, sheltered from the outside world, but not offered much in the way of treatment. The asylum got a new location…

A Disorder That Many Famous People Have and Makes Them So Different from the Others

People with Schizoid Personality Disorder are typically detached from social relationships for long periods of time. They have difficulty expressing their emotions, have a minimal desire for intimacy, and will avoid close relationships with others at all costs. Albert Einstein and Bill Gates are two well-known individuals who had Schizoid Personality Disorder.

The Common Symptoms

  • Neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family
  • Almost always chooses solitary activities
  • Has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person
  • Takes pleasure in few, if any, activities
  • Lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives
  • Appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others
  • Shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affect (emotion)

The Causes

What causes Schizoid Personality Disorder is unknown, however genetic and environmental factors, specifically in early childhood could possibly play a part in the development of the disorder.

If a person has a parent or another close relative who has schizophrenia or another similar mental illness, they may be at a greater risk of developing schizoid personality disorder.

When a parent repeatedly ignores the emotional needs of a child who is sensitive, they run the risk of causing long-term damage to that child’s social and emotional development, which can lead to the development of schizoid personality disorder later on.

If a person exhibits behavioral patterns and symptoms of this personality disorder, a doctor will do an evaluation. This includes getting their medical history and possibly a physical exam.

Unfortunately, lab tests that can be done…

The Most Debilitating Disease in the World Isn’t Just in Your Head

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a new condition as the leading cause of of poor health and disability around the world, which has seen an 18% spike in diagnoses over the past few years. A condition that most of us have encountered in our lives either through personal experience or the difficulties of a friend or loved one. And, in a new twist, this condition is a mental disorder.

Major Depressive Disorder, more commonly known as depression now affects more than 300 million people across the globe, causing a lack of self-esteem, the inability to enjoy activities that previously brought pleasure, low energy, pain, and in severe cases delusion and hallucination. Between 2-7% of individuals with depression will go on to commit suicide.

Depression infographic by Mental Health Association of AMerica
Infographic by Mental Health America.

While one might suppose this condition would be equal opportunity, rates of occurrence are higher in developed nations than in the developing world, whether or not this is a situation of higher rates of detection or the actual existence of many more cases overall is currently unknown. It has been shown that cases are more common…

A Study of Anorexics and Bulimics 22 Years Later Offers New Hope

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The full-recovery statistics on eating disorders in women have been bleak, with research suggesting that fewer than half the women with anorexia or bulimia ever recover fully. As a result, treatment for those who continue to suffer after 10 years generally shift to providing palliative care, since there seems so little hope for a cure beyond that time interval. Until now.

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry that followed women with eating disorders for a longer period, found that by 22 years since the onset of an eating disorder nearly two-thirds of women do fully recover. It may be that previous studies simply may not have been anorexia and bulimia victims long enough to see this. That 10-year victims previously viewed as hopeless still have a reason to keep working toward recovery is big news.


Anorexia and bulimia are brutal — anorexia is statistically more deadly than any other mental disorder. Driven by a distorted body image and a terror of gaining weight, anorexia sufferers starve themselves while bulimics embark on a dangerous cycle of binge-eating and purging. Both are damaging to the body, leading to a host of problems, including infertility and even heart failure.


The study was led by Kamryn Eddy of Massachusetts General Hospital. It followed 246 women who’d volunteered for the study between 1987 and…

What if mental health first aid was as widespread as CPR?

One in every four Americans experiences mental illness, and a lack of police understanding can lead to tragedy. What if more of us were trained to deal with depression and anxiety? New York City plans to do it

In February 2010, off-duty police officer Joseph C Coffey was driving by a pond when he noticed a car partially submerged. He got out of his car and entered the water. He couldn’t open the front door, so he climbed through the back. There was a woman inside. As Coffey prepared to get her out, he began to sense that this wasn’t an accident. The woman wasn’t panicking. Instead, she was crying. She started talking about her personal problems.

Coffey had been trained for this. In Warwick, Rhode Island, where he oversees frontline patrol officers, he had developed the department’s crisis intervention team and co-authored a manual on mental health first aid for the National Council for Behavioral Health for use in law enforcement trainings. The Warwick Police Department has taught mental health first aid at its academy since 2008. So far, more than 11,000 officers have been trained.

That night in the pond, Coffey knew to listen more than he talked. He knew he had to work quickly, to keep the woman from harming herself further. And he knew to remind her that he was there to help her rather than to demand anything of her.

“[Reassuring the victim] is not always the first thing that a police officer may do, coming upon a scene,” he said. “I used my first name. I made her feel that her crisis was real to her. I offered her a blanket when I was able to reach her. [By comforting her], I was able to delay her from her intentions.”

Coffey received an award for preventing a suicide.

One in every four Americans experiences mental illness – a burden that carries heavy social, financial, and emotional costs. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the number one cause of disability in the world.

“More people are suffering and miss more time from work from depression compared to any other medical problem,” explains Bryan Gibb, director of public education for the National Council for Behavioral Health. Untreated depression, he adds, is also the number one cause of suicide – and at more than 40,000 US suicides a year, “that’s 40,000 people who die from mental illness”.

More people are suffering and miss more time from work from depression compared to any other medical problem

When that behavior is misunderstood, police interactions can lead to tragedy. Recent years have seen increased media attention of the problem. In 2014, Ezell Ford, who had been diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, was shot and killed by an officer in Los Angeles. That same year in Albuquerque, New Mexico, James Boyd – a homeless man with mental health issues – was shot and killed by police. Such incidents underscore the need for better law enforcement training in recognising and dealing with mental illness. “If an officer can recognise what they’re seeing may be a manifestation of mental illness, they can take a more appropriate action – which may not be arrest,” Coffey says.

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New York City is partnering with the National Council for Behavioral Health to make such trainings accessible to entire communities. ThriveNYC, a public initiative launched in November 2015 and led by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will provide $850m (£680m) in funding for mental health programmes over four years. A key investment will be providing mental health first aid training to 250,000 people, beginning with first responders such as police officers and firefighters. Because of the pervasiveness of mental illness (insured New Yorkers spend $17bn [£13.6bn] a year on treating anxiety, depression, and addiction), proponents of the plan believe first aid for mental illness should be taken as seriously as for physical illnesses and injuries.

The goal is to make mental health first aid as ubiquitous as regular first aid, such as CPR. Experienced bystanders can help prevent deaths, assess harmful situations, and seek appropriate medical treatment. The American Heart Association and The Red Cross train more than 20 million Americans each year in CPR.

The initiative is being driven largely by the leadership of Chirlane McCray, who is married to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. McCray was inspired by her own experiences with mental illness, both within her family and with a high school friend who took her own life. McCray has said that her parents suffered from depression that affected the whole family, but it was only “talked about in whispers and shadows”. A few years ago, her 18-year-old daughter Chiara told her parents she had been diagnosed with anxiety, addiction and depression. McCray remembers not knowing where to turn for support. “It was hard to figure out who I could trust and know what path to…

Always Suspecting Others Have Hidden Motives Can Be a Sign of Mental Illness

You may recognize this person: Always suspicious of the decisions, actions and motives of others.

This paranoid individual could be a friend of yours, or perhaps a relative. But one thing is for sure – they have a universal distrust of other people.

You may remember a grandparent who was always suspicious of everyone who walked past their house. They would constantly peek out their windows, and stare intently at anyone who walked by. If they saw anyone acting even a little unusually, their imaginations would run wild, and they would quickly become agitated or panicky.

Individuals such as the character above are likely to be suffering from a mental illness known as “paranoid personality disorder.” People with this disorder will nearly always be suspicious of others.1 As well as paranoid behavior, they may also display odd or eccentric ways of thinking and acting.

People with Paranoid Personality Disorder are difficult to get on with.

While it’s not unusual to have times in your life when you are suspicious (or even paranoid), when this becomes the norm, then something is definitely wrong.

Paranoid personality disorder (PPD) sufferers are so caught up in their world of defensiveness, that they can easily become incessant complainers, argumentative or even hostile. Their hyper-vigilant behavior often leads to a cold, guarded and lonely existence.

As you can imagine (or perhaps have experienced), PPD sufferers don’t tend to attract or hold onto harmonious friendships or relationships.

Family influence and childhood trauma are some potential causes of PPD.

At present, mental health researchers have been unable to determine the exact cause of…

How to Deal with People Who Can’t Stop Getting Attention

Have you noticed how some people always want to be the center of attention? Whether at work or play, they behave in a way that makes them stand out from the crowd.

You meet these people regularly. “Mr. Outrageous” dresses and acts in such an eccentric way that heads turn when he walks down the street. “Ms. Flirty” oozes appeal that men can’t resist. Even women take notice of the way she moves and her sultry voice. But wait. Are these normal levels of attention seeking or something more?

Attention seeking individuals may be suffering from “Histrionic Personality Disorder.”

Even though you’re sure to be familiar with people who crave attention, you may not be aware that they could be suffering from a mental illness known as Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD).1 The American Psychiatric Association defines HPD as a personality disorder characterized by excessive attention-seeking behaviors and emotions.2

If the word “histrionic” is new to you, here’s how Merriam-Webster3 defines it: Deliberately affected, overly dramatic or emotional, theatrical.

Think of reality TV participants. Frequently they display the traits listed above. In most cases it’s obvious that the participants are huge attention seekers.

How to Identify People with Histrionic Personality Disorder

Let’s now look at how to quickly spot people with HPD. They’re likely to display some or all of the symptoms below:

  • Intense, unstable emotions
  • Inappropriately flirtatious or seductive behavior
  • Constant need for reassurance and approval
  • Easily bored by routine
  • Overly concerned with physical appearance
  • Problems maintaining relationships
  • Uncomfortable in situations where they fail to be the center of attention

It’s important to be clear that we can all suffer from the above symptoms from time to time. However, individuals suffering from HPD are prone to exhibiting the symptoms incessantly.

Mental health studies have revealed some of the likely causes of HPD:

  • Brain wiring response to early developmental trauma caused by neglect
  • Genetical inheritance
  • Environmental factors such as lack of criticism…