April is stress awareness month. Stress is becoming more and more part of our everyday—we cannot even think of daily life without stress anymore—and as such is also either cause or accompanying many mental health and other psychological issues people bring into psychotherapy and counselling. However, a closer look at the internet search statistics, reveals astonishing figures related to stress, anxiety and depression, which are the top three mental health-related searches in the UK.
A corporate executive that spent half of her life chasing her career, getting one promotion after the other and moving up the corporate ladder, only to find out—usually in her thirties—that she in fact never achieved what she wanted, whilst her life is slipping by. She wakes up anxious, not knowing what she is doing, where she is going and slightly doubting that she knows what she wants to achieve. She cannot take pleasure in fruits of her hard work although she can afford to. She sees younger generation as competition and starts wondering how long she can keep this up. And what then? When? She can no longer relate to the little girl that sat on her daddy’s shoulders, pulling his hair as they walked through the zoo.
Narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder seem to be quite latent personality presentations—they are not commonly presented in therapy as the core presenting problem that a client will present when they come in for treatment. Often times, hence, narcissistic personality disorder is undiagnosed, which goes even more so for narcissism in general.
Narcissism by nature of the personality structure manifestation makes it hard for a narcissist to engage in authentic and intimate relationships. People who engage in a relationship with a narcissist will often be subject to the lack of connection, empathy and intimacy. They may find themselves under fire of allegations that they are too controlling and smothering. Even though these accusations will be part of narcissist’s distorted reality, there will often also be some pathology related to why someone gets involved with a narcissist in the first place. Usually such pathology will be unconscious.
Is narcissist a modern day standard and is narcissism on the rise in cosmopolitan world today? At least the latter is often a question and the answer is also simple. But I guess the straightforward answer would not really be enough. The next question is why is that so, why is it happening and why?
A therapist will often be faced with a question of what the difference between sadness and depression is and what low mood is then. This will either come up in therapy room as client is making progress beating depression or dealing with any other issue and trying to evaluate progress, or it will come up as a question before a client even comes in for the first session of psychotherapy or counselling.
Mental health statistics for UK in 2016 in terms of search results reveals that anxiety and depression are still the leading mental health conditions people search for. Other mental health topics that dominate are stress, bipolar, bereavement, panic attacks, trauma, burnout, suicide, addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Anxiety and depression are often considered hand in hand. When we talk about one, we often pin the other to it. When dealing with these two mental health manifestations within NHS, it is not a rare occasion that they will also be diagnosed together by GPs. And even though it might seem that sometimes depression will be accompanied by anxiety, the problem is much more complex than meets the eye.
Bipolar disorder and bipolar personality structure, also known as manic depression and manic-depressive structure, are something we are more likely to encounter in therapy than appears to be the case at first glance. Bipolar is predominantly characterised by swings in mood—from manic to depressive. However, contrary to common belief, neither the intensity of swings nor their frequency are deterministic of bipolar.
Bipolar and depression can often be mistaken for one another because of similarities in their presentation. Clients might come in for therapy claiming they are depressed, which they can in fact be, but that can easily be a symptom of bipolar personality structure or bipolar disorder whereby depression is only one of its manifestations.