Online Christian Counseling and Opinion

In follow up to my previous article, “Depression is everybody’s problem”, this article will point out the danger of depression when gone unchecked.

The 2015 crash of the Germanwings  Airbus A320 flight 4U9525 on March 24, 2015 which killed all one hundred fifty persons on board is a stark reminder of the need for closer scrutiny of those who are put in charge of the lives of others.

In the crash of the Germanwings  Airbus A320 flight 4U9525, the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had apparently been struggling with mental  illness and depression for some time. He even received a letter declaring him unfit for work (at some point)which somehow officials are only finding out about now as a result of Lubitz hiding the letter.

Like many depressed and psychologically distressed people, Lubitz apparently was able to hide his illness all too well; many who knew him, found him, normal, capable and even fun.  

Even when he was originally hired by Lufthansa in 2008, the company said Lubitz was psychologically sound and completely fit to fly.

As of today however, after the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Bild (a German  Newspaper) citing unnamed sources claiming that Lubitz had suffered severe mental illness, Lufthansa has now admitted they learned in 2009 that Lubitz had suffered  a “previous episode of severe depression”.

Although Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, knew of Lubitz’s battle with depression, they allowed him to continue training and ultimately put him in the cockpit.

Lufthansa contends however, that because “Lubitz had a valid medical certificate, had passed all his examinations and “held all the licenses required”; there was no reason not to let him fly.

This is a staunch reminder of the need by every one of us to take a proverbial pinch of our mental capacity to see if we’re really ok. We all need to maintain good mental and emotional health but unfortunately not everyone is willing to check their mental and spiritual compass.

If you doubt your mental stability for even a minute, for goodness sakes talk to somebody professionally. Don’t be so proud that you endanger yourself or those around you.

On another level of mental health, too often like the recent German Air crash, someone with less than competent mental capacity gains control of people and either limits or ends their lives.

The potential for anyone with power over people to take such control to the extreme is just too fragile to allow incompetency to be put in control.

Having worn so many professional hats over the years as a pastor, theologian, psychologist and insurance adjuster, this writer has seen far too much incompetence among those in charge of others.

The old saying of “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is so true.

This writer has seen good men and women totally collapse under the obligation of power and control.

I’ve seen pastor’s attempt suicide after major catastrophes like hurricanes which wiped out their churches and homes, theologians who couldn’t handle a flaw in a theological truth they once held firm, attorneys who lost major cases, athletes who lost the big game, parents who lost children and on and on.

In short, everyone is vulnerable to mental illness and associated depression at some point in their life.

When life becomes more than we can handle on our own, that’s when we need to talk to someone professionally.

But what about the professionals who think they’re above talking to someone?

Does this not support the need for a required mental assessment of every major professional?

Certainly all pilots, bus drivers, train operators, ship captains and personnel, doctors and hospital staff, law enforcement, attorneys, prosecutors and certainly all politicians should be required to have an extensive mental health screening; not just a  criminal background check but an intensive mental health checkup.

Most of all both the Democratic and Republican Parties should include in their Presidential Candidate vetting process a mental health checkup made public to all.

Good mental health is very important and should never be taken for granted because the mind can indeed be a dangerous thing.

Please, if you are having strange or unusual thoughts, feeling depressed or lonely, call someone today at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org.

Also call your political party requesting that a mental health checkup be required in all political candidate vetting processes; especially of those running for the office of president.

© 2019 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III

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The suicide death of so many celebrities and returning military from combat zones brings to the forefront the all too common problem of depression with the often end result of suicide.

We all have seen the many public service announcements by the late Mike Wallace and others who have openly admitted their battle with depression in an effort to shed light on an all too common problem.

With one out of every seven people in the modern world dealing with this very serious mental health issue at some point in their life, there is simply never enough emphasis placed on this condition.

There is so much which can be said about depression and yet the reality is very few people actually attempt to do anything about either their own condition or the condition of a friend or loved one.

Depression is generally defined as, a condition marked by feelings of worthlessness, dejection and worry which is usually accompanied by a state of unhappiness and pessimistic outlook on life.

The depressed person is susceptible to minor states of frustration, feelings of guilt and even occasional paranoia with a tendency to feel they are either a failure or failure prone.

Basically the depressed person develops low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy.

In more severe cases, depression may result in suicide.

Depression can be brought on by many things including Parkinson disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

It has now been stated by the wife of the late Robin Williams that he was actually suffering from the early stages of Parkinson which might have contributed to his depression.

As an epileptic, this writer is well aware of the potential of the medication I take as well as the disorder itself which can lead to depression. In fact, my neurologists always ask me on each checkup visit if I am experiencing any depression.

As a child I witnessed the constant depression of my late mother and wanted to know more about the subject which ultimately led to my study of psychology.

Unfortunately, my mother never really recognized she had clinical depression; although it was quite evident to those around her.

For my mother as well as both of my Grandmothers, they simply addressed their problem as being “down in the dumps” or “having the blues”.

Down in the dumps and having the blues doesn’t last a life time but genuine clinical depression can; especially left untreated.

It should be noted here, that there is a clear clinical distinction between a person suffering from what is known as a “neurotic depressive reaction” which might result from a difficult situation or traumatic life event such as a divorce or family member’s death and “psychotic depression”.

“Psychotic depression” includes a variety of widely known depressions known as “manic-depression” and “Bi-polar condition” (which today is often included as one depression type).

Persons diagnosed with a psychotic depression usually have a long history of mood swings and depressed episodes accompanied by extreme paranoia, delusions and hallucinations.

Although both forms of depression are treated similarly, most forms of Psychotic depression require long term use of medication, personal and group psychotherapy and often even in-patient hospitalization.

In short, depression should never be ignored.

In contemporary society, there is simply no need for anyone to suffer with the pain of depression or to inflict in those around us the pain of watching our reactions to difficult and depressed feelings.

With proper psychotherapy and medication most types of depression can be “handled” and most people live a full, healthy and satisfied life.

Available medication, good doctors, neurologist and psychotherapist are usually the easy part.

The difficult part is helping people understand they have a problem and then leading them to seek out the appropriate solution.

Bear in mind, you cannot push a depressed person; it can only make their situation worst.

Most men cover up their feelings and as such seldom admit they’re having any kind of an emotional problem.

Even if their Family doctor prescribes some medication and warns the patient one of the side effects can be depression, many men will simply respond by saying, “it’s nothing I can’t deal with”.

Women usually will seek professional help for depression the quickest due to recognizing and understanding their own feelings.

Unlike men, women openly and easily display their feelings and emotions; any change in that normality seen by themselves or their friends and family often sends up a red flag that something is wrong.

As a result a visit to the doctor, therapist or at the least the best friend or hair stylist is sought to talk things out.

Herein is where depression becomes everybody’s problem.

Women realize for the most part, that “airing out” their feelings or differences helps and often even bring about a solution or complete healing of the depressed state of mine.

Men on the other hand hold it in and are very good at putting up a façade that there is “nothing wrong”.

Teens too, are often good at hiding their true feelings for fear of being “singled out” and made fun of for admitting they have a problem, talking about it to friends and family and seeking the professional help they need.

In over thirty years of counseling, the main reason most people came to me ultimately led back to depression.

Their depression escalated other problems such as marriage and family relationships, employment problems, long time friendships and various forms of sexual dysfunction.

Often depression can affect health problems such as appetite, weight gain or loss, hair loss, visual problems and much more.

Many times it is necessary for a psychologist to refer a patient back to their family doctor in order to eliminate a possible physical problem.

Again, depression is such a huge problem that it is everybody’s problem; it is a personal problem, and your friends’ and family’s problem.

It is your church and pastor’s problem and it is your family doctor and psychotherapist’s problem.

It takes all of us working together to recognize our own depression and/or that of our friends, family and co-workers.

Depression is indeed everybody’s business and my next Christian Counseling article will look at its many warning signs.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Becoming EpiAware

This is a meme I came across several years back from one of my Epilepsy support groups and felt it time to include with a short article on anti seizure medication side effects.

The meme addresses a subject we don’t often think about; our anti seizure medication and the side effects they bring to our lives. It sometimes causes us to do or say spur of the moment things we don’t intentionally mean to say or do. It’s very similar to or may even be part of an aura or seizure; and yes most anti seizure meds can cause auras and or seizures.

The side effects are not wanted or planned; they “just happen” without warning. We need to familiarize both our self as well as family members and friends with these side effects.

Remember, most epilepsy medications are not only prescribed for epilepsy and seizures but also for behavioral health use in treating such illnesses as Bipolar Disorder and many Schizophrenia disorders.

Unfortunately for the epileptic, the medication can often have the exact opposite effect for which it was intended in treating such behavioral disorders.

As a result it is extremely important to know your medication’s side effects; not just in general but in you specifically; find out everything you can. Becoming familiar with these side effects can help prevent wrongly diagnosed mental health issues as well as social and relationship issues.

It is important that every epileptic as well as friends and family know and understand anti seizure medication side effects; not just in general but specifically for the epileptic in their life.

We should all become “#EpiAware”.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

A short video describing epilepsy and prevention

Not even considered

Symptoms often overlooked as epilepsy related

Being involved with literally hundreds of epileptics in epilepsy support groups, I’m amazed at those recently diagnosed as epileptics who had started out with simple illness symptoms that most of us wouldn’t consider as having anything to do with epilepsy; at least on their own.

The problem arises when over time and normal medical treatment by your General Practitioner these symptoms remain or even seem to increase.

Unfortunately, the GP prescribes a few tests which come back normal or maybe he or she gives you a Rx for a med that eliminates the problem but over time actually triggers other symptoms or even a seizure.

The attached drawing is an admittedly somewhat controversial drawing of many of the associated illnesses or symptoms of epilepsy. However, if you experience any of these, especially together, you should inform your doctor or neurologist immediately.

Any one of these illnesses can be signs of an impending seizure or related to an aura.

We all have these symptoms from time to time and as such the reason many consider this as controversial, but my experience has shown most epileptics have had these associated illnesses at one time.

I hope this drawing will help you better understand yourself as an epileptic or the epileptic in your life.

May God keep us all seizure free.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Epileptics be ware

Since many of us participate in various support groups for epilepsy as a means of strength and encouragement we are so excited to find others like ourselves with the same needs and concerns that we don’t give a second thought to the lurking danger of posting and sharing those feelings on line with others in the group.

This past week as I suddenly found my counseling articles on epilepsy being denied posting on Facebook even in a private and closed personal group, I became aware that Facebook has access to all the private conversations posted even in private, closed groups.

It seems that although the general public does not have access to these so called closed groups (which actually aren’t closed at all) Facebook can and does read everything.
The end result is that anything you post about your epilepsy condition or that of a friend or loved one (via Facebook) on line even in a CLOSED group Facebook sees and knows.

Likewise, hackers and trolls can also utilize such information for their own demented purposes.

You should also be aware that Facebook and possibly a few others are not only violating their own privacy policies that each of us are forced to electronically sign and agree with but with regard to anything concerning medical or mental health they also violate the Federal HIPPA guidelines for patient rights and privacy.

As such, I urge each of you to think twice on what and where you post your questions and comments. Consider personal one on one or genuine local support groups. If that isn’t convenient, then select real, genuine web sites such as this one or some of the new social media groups such as GAB.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD