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MedicalIamA (Clinical Psychologist) AMA!

Oct 10th 2016 by Sookning • 14 Questions • 169 Points

Hey guys. We're assuming most of you didn't watch us on X Factor, but we'll make a long story short.

We were both going to college and making music in Florida when we saw an ad for a Simon Cowell singing competition. We never thought about making it on the show, or the repercussions, but we thought if we sent in a video that some producer would see it and hook us up with someone to work with in LA. (The naive logic of kids who knew NOTHING about the business.) Months later we get a phone call to audition in person, and eventually we find ourselves in LA. Simon Cowell becomes our mentor and we stumble our way through being on live television (FYI: it's not as fun as it sounds) and end up winning the whole thing. Us = "WTF?!"

Prior to being on the show, we had never written music together, so we also stumbled our way through putting an album out. We were signed to Columbia Records and Syco Records, had an army of people telling us what to do, had huge photo shoots, music videos, we played the Today Show, Radio City, went on two tours with Colbie Caillat, Andy Grammer & Rachel Platten.... and then no one talked to us for 3+ months. We found out we were dropped through a text message to someone we had just met who had a friend at one of the labels.

So we got dropped by our labels, agency, lost our publishing deal, and our manager all at once. After having some significant, not mind blowing but significant, success. We spent some time thinking and now we have new management that rule, but we're doing everything else independently now. We just released an EP to get music out while we work on a full length.

You can buy it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/as-seen-on-tv/id1138118582

Or listen for free on Spotify cause we're good with people streaming our music.

Ask us whatever you want! Proof: https://twitter.com/AlexandSierra/status/784091326006427648

EDIT @ 11:55am PST: We're starting rehearsal now, but we'll come back to this and answer more questions during our breaks!

Q:

Who is this guy Rorschach and why does he keep drawing pictures of my parents fighting?

A:

What is the biggest misconception about X Factor and do you regret doing it?


Q:

I know right? He was a psychiatrist in the early 1900s. The idea is that people can project all their fears, thoughts, ideas, feelings onto these ambiguous images. It's a form of tabula rasa (a blank slate).

A:

The biggest misconception is probably that the artists on the show have any control at all. There were people deciding what our make up looked like, what clothes we had to wear, what songs we were singing. There is also HEAVY editing and nudges by the producers during pre-filmed interviews to say certain things. We were pretty lucky that we were on the show at an age where it was difficult to force us to do anything at all haha, and it helped that Simon REALLY loved us at the time.

Ya know, parts of us regret doing it. There are those who will NEVER see us as real artists who write our own music. Some people will always see us as a cheesy couple who went on a reality singing competition. But it was an amazing learning experience, we made a lot of friends and connections, got exposure we would've never received, and when we're 80 we can brag about that time we won a TV show. :)


Q:

A friend of mine is going through some pretty rough stuff in their personal life (relationship breakdown, finances etc.) and it has really shaken them. They're really angry and hurt and it is affecting their ability to focus on work and enjoy everything around them. They are really struggling to see the positives in anything and constantly want to discuss how bad everything is. I'm trying to be supportive but they aren't keen to talk to someone (counsellor or psychologist or anyone) and everything I say gets shut down, which sometimes makes me want to say nothing. How do you best suggest I support them?

A:

I only discovered you recently and then watched all your X-Factor performances (There's a YouTube playlist of all your performances). Love the way your voices blend together. My question is kind of silly. Why do you only promote your iTunes album? I bought my copy from Google Play. Why aren't you promoting everywhere your album is sold?


Q:

The unfortunate thing is that help can't be imposed. There is research showing that invisible support is very helpful. So you don't need to be in their face about it, but the knowledge that you are there is in itself helpful. Forcing someone to get help is usually quite unhelpful. It's like forcing someone to be healthy usually leads the person to be unhealthy. People don't like to be forced. The problem with free will! *Of course there are situations where that is necessary - the person is a danger to him/herself or to others. *But if that's not the case yet, let your friend know that you are there and be prepared to wait. The difficulty is to continue caring when you are being shut down. The very fact that you won't give up on them means that when they are ready for help, they'll come to you.

A:

That's actually a good question, and we don't really have a great answer for it... I guess there are a lot of moving parts that go on when you're releasing an album, so we seem to focus on the thing that creates the most buzz. iTunes is definitely where the majority of our sales come from, so we tend to promote that the most.... but now that we think about it, it sort of feels like a self fulfilling prophecy.


Q:

what is the most fascinating disorder you've come across or have read about?

A:

Who was the rudest celebrity you have interacted with?


Q:

Good question. I think I was fascinated by psychopathy which isn't in the DSM-V. Probably the closest you get to it is antisocial personality disorder. I think it's fascinating because that world is so different from mine. I still don't really understand their world TBH.

I'm also quite interested in eating disorders which is more common than psychopathy. Anorexia is one of the only disorders where people "want" the symptoms. For most other disorders: Distress is one of the diagnostic criterions.

A:

DON'T MAKE US ANSWER THIS hahaha.

We have been very lucky that most of the celebrities we've been around have been very nice and kind and really just like any person you'd meet on the street. A few are our friends now and it's weird to think of them as "famous".

There are some people we've met that weren't great experiences, but we don't wanna call them out. Who knows what kind of day they had, etc.


Q:

Can pedophilia be classified as a mental disorder?

A:

I met you guys in Chicago! Love you guys so much. Who do you want to collaborate with the most?


Q:

Yes. In the Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5 (the book of mental disorders published by APA), it is a mental disorder.

Diagnostic Criteria 302.2 (F65.4) Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger).

The individual has acted on these sexual urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.

The individual is at least age 16 years and at least 5 years older than the child or children in Criterion A.

Note: Do not include an individual in late adolescence involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old.

Specify whether: Exclusive type (attracted only to children)

Nonexclusive type

Specify if: Sexually attracted to males

Sexually attracted to females

Sexually attracted to both

Specify if: Limited to incest

A:

Hey! Hopefully we come back through on this tour so we can say hi again! :)

Probably Ed Sheeran. He's such a brilliant songwriter; we'd love to try to come up with something cool with him. He's also just a cool guy in general.


Q:

Can affected individuals be cured of it?

A:

Hey Guys!

I loved your rendition of Trouble, which you sang on one of the nights (cant remember which one exactly). I was rooting for you all the way! Did you realize how tough and messed up the music industry would be once you got your foot in the door? Does it feel better now that you're independent?

Thanks!


Q:

Since the cause is unknown, we don't have cures for it. I think that therapy is helpful to examine if there is any discernable contributing factors, to work through the individual's feelings about having these sexual desires, to help the individual to develop ways to cope with his/her feelings and not to act on them.

A:

Ah thank you so much! That was during big band week! It was definitely some of the most fun we had on the show.

We had NO IDEA how tough the industry would be. Obviously we grew up hearing how rough the entertainment industry is and how messed up Hollywood can be. As far as friends, we've been very lucky and we actually really enjoy living in Los Angeles. And the people working in the industry aren't ALL bad, but many of them don't want to develop or put too much effort into an artist. They want money. So they want churn out whatever will go #1, whether or not they think it's quality music.

It feels great being independent, but we'd be lying if we said we didn't miss the pros that come with having the backing of a label.


Q:

I am a patient who has been seeing a psychologist/counsellor and a psychiatrist. Due to personal issues, I need to see a female mental health professional, although I am a male. Based on my finding, there are mostly female psychologists/counsellors and hardly any female psychiatrists. I notice this phenomenon. Why is that so? Is it a global phenomenon?

A:

will you release your old covers again?


Q:

Hi Happy G8, the first psychiatrists/psychologists were male. Like most other fields, psychology and psychiatry were dominated by men. In some areas of psychology, it is more evenly split now with slight male majority e.g. Cognitive Psychology, Quantitative Psychology. Clinical Psychology does seem to be more female dominated. In my PhD class at McGill of 8 students, 7 were females (poor Dan!). I teach a MA class in counseling in Malaysia (15 students - 3 males). So it does seem to be a global phenomenon. Females have been found to be more relational and empathetic and thus I think they gravitate towards a field that provides opportunities for them to express these characteristics.

A:

That's basically what "As Seen On TV" is. This is our final nod to the X-factor days! :)


Q:

Relate's aim to de-stigmatise mental illness is a great one especially if our tendency is to try to hide the negative stuff away like abandoning kids in homes because they have learning difficulties/mental health issues. So I'm all for normalising mental illness and getting help for it, the same way you would address a broken leg ie: ask for help. Question 1: Sometimes those of us who don't have mental illness simply don't know what to say or do/react when their friend/family reports feeling low/sad/anxious/panic/worry. We might say "just snap out of it" or "don't be silly" or "why so negative all the time". It lacks empathy and understanding where the person is coming from. However, I think its important to highlight that if we say those things, it doesn't mean that we don't care and probably think we're doing what's best for them. So then, what are the ways that we can better support those with these symptoms, even if we're not trained psychologists/psychiatrists? Question 2: If I have a mental illness, or think I might do, what would you recommend I do or say to people around me (apart from seeing a professional) so that they don't get scared of me or avoid me? How can I as someone with a mental health issue, help to de-stigmatise this too?

Thanks Dr Chua!

A:

I am LOVING every song on the new album. When will you be releasing your tour dates? I will see you Saturday in Costa Mesa.


Q:

Hi Jennsmer, thanks for your questions. Those are really good questions. I really like that you highlighted that you do care about them and that what you are doing comes from a good place. So a question that I always like to ask myself is: How can I best convey my care in a way that makes this person feel cared for? I don't think there is a one fit all cure. Each person feels loved differently. The first thing I would do is to ask the person: What is the best way I can care for you? More often then now, people have an idea of what is helpful and what is unhelpful. If they don't, give them permission to let you know when something you are doing is unhelpful (or helpful!). And this can shape your responses. Just by you asking for their direction and taking your lead from them will make them feel cared for.

I would also keep encouraging them to seek professional help.

And I would also make sure that I am supported myself. Being a caregiver is tiring. You have to receive to give. So have a support group. You know the saying - it takes a village to raise a child? It takes a support network to raise a friend. You get my drift. :)

Question 2. I think the best way is to be open about it. Your attitude can inform people how they should deal with it too. If you are embarrassed or ashamed, they probably will pick up on it and experience those emotions too. And the fact is some people won't know how to deal with it! That's ok too. We don't always know how to care for people, so revert back to Question 1 - help them help you by telling them what is helpful and what is not. And pass them information about whatever you are dealing with. There are many good sites out there with great resources/information.

Welcome! :)

A:

Thank you so much!!!!! :) Right now the tour is being routed and the logistics are being worked out, so we'll post them as soon as it's booked! See you soon :D


Q:

is it true that people who work in the psychology field are more prone to developing mental illnesses themselves, due to the passion they have for their job?

A:

how do you deal with people who pretend to be you? I'm pretty sure I've been catfished by you guys before but I was too gullible to realize it 😂


Q:

That's an interesting question. You know, there is some research showing that people in mental health professions experience a lot of stress because they have to bear other people's emotions. So it can be quite taxing. I am of the opinion that therapists need personal therapy too. Therapy isn't for "crazy" people. It's just a safe place to talk, process what's going on and then to move forward.

A:

Hahaha, you probably have. Our own friends and family have had fake facebook accounts reaching out to them. It's pretty ridiculous but most people can see through it. It comes with the territory of being in the public eye, but we still don't see why.


Q:

Definitely, i agree that therapists need personal therapy too. How readily available would those resources be though, do they talk to their family and friends, or do they seek another colleague to talk to, or look up information online for self help?

A:

I have loved you guys since I saw you on the xfactor! At my wedding me and my husband danced to your cover of 'the best song ever' because your actual CD hadn't come out yet. After hearing the songs I have wondered why so many of them seem to be about almost breaking up but staying together. Are you going to have happier love songs? 😋


Q:

Hey, personal therapy is set up like "regular" therapy i.e. Find a professional and start sessions. Self-help or friends/family while helpful and supportive does not take the place of a trained professional. You don't want your friends/family to be your therapist, you want them to remain your friends/family.

A:

This makes us feel SO many feels. Congratulations and best wishes to you and yours! <3

Honestly, we feel like that's a common misconception. We understand that our most popular covers/originals are definitely the sad love songs. But people tend to forget that we wrote songs like "Just Kids" (happy & drinking summer tune), "Give Me Something"... (sex hahaha), "Here We Go" (festival? sex kinda hahaha), "All For You" (jazzy love song about how everything is for the other person), etc.

On the show we covered a lot of sad songs because the producers/Simon saw what worked best and got the most reaction. We think that it's just something that a lot of people can relate to. Even at the happiest times of my life, I love a good cry to a sad song. (-S)

But our new originals aren't sad! "You Will Find Me" is a "happy" love song, even though it sounds somber. "Animals" is.... well... about sex. Hahaha. And "Take Me" is about wanting to be with someone all the time and getting in their thoughts and wanting to be with them even while they're dreaming. :)


Q:

ah, that makes sense! Thank you for your insights and patience! (:

A:

I really love you as musical duo, and have since your audition. You are so considerate to each other vocally, and that really is like a unicorn and almost impossible to find. What are some other vocal duos you think work together at a similar level of compatibility? Who's your inspiration?


Q:

Pleasure!

A:

Thank you so much! We've always been inspired by The Civil Wars as far as duos... their harmonies are haunting and beautiful. The same with Simon & Garfunkel. Good harmonies are the key to our hearts.


Q:

how long does it take for one to enter psychology school? I've heard that you've to take up a lot of degrees to even major in psychology. Give or take, how many years is that?

A:

Have you ever edited your own Wikipedia page?


Q:

Hi castleTerr. You can start majoring in Psychology once you start your BA/BSc. To be a clinical psychologist in Malaysia, you need a MA. So that's (4 (BA) +2 years (MA)). To be a clinical psychologist in the West, you need a PhD = 4 + 2 + 6 (PhD). Yikes! It's long but I really enjoyed my time as a graduate student!

A:

HAHA a few years ago, yes! Can't remember, but some stuff in the personal information section was soOoOo off, it was laughable. Now we tend not to look ourselves up on google/wikipedia etc... not a good move. Haha.


Q:

To be a clinical psychologist in the West, you need a PhD = 4 + 2 + 6 (PhD). Yikes!

Quick note: most clinical psych PhD programs in the US do NOT require a Masters beforehand, so that extra 2 years you mentioned isn't necessary. It's 4 years of undergrad and then 5-7 years of PhD/internship, but admission is so competitive that you may have a 1-2 year gap between Undergrad and Grad school where you get experience to build a competitive application

A:

What are you doing now?


Q:

Thanks for the note!

A:

Chilling in bed getting ready for rehearsal in about an hour.

Is... is that what you meant by that?


Q:

Ahh, thanks for the information! Would it be the same for Singapore though,do you know?

A:

[deleted]


Q:

Yes - Singapore also requires a minimum of a MA. No worries. :)

A:

Funny you say taking the shortcut to fame... Alex here btw. I initially thought the same thing, that we were taking a shortcut, that we were jeopardizing our art just to get some fans. I actually was doing the same thing as you just before the show started. And was on my 7th or 8th year of playing bar gigs and restaurant gigs to no one who cared to listen, minus my family and friends. I would wake up some days and think "Man, there's no real future here, you're going to be playing these same covers and originals to your parents and cousins forever." Then there would be days where I'd wake up and I KNEW that something was going to happen eventually; that I would happen to be at the right place at the right time in front of the right people. Then Sierra brought the audition tape to my attention. Immediately I wasn't into the idea; here I am years into creating a following, however small it was, and I'm just going to hand everything over to the man... give Simon everything i've been working for. A buddy told me that the thing about luck is it's just where preparation meets opportunity or something like that. That's what X factor was... the opportunity. I had worked my ASS off for years to learn how to perform, learn how to write, learn how to mess up and keep going, learn how to be heckled, learn how to play guitar and X factor was just the second half of the luck.

Sierra is in the same boat. She spent her entire life dancing. Learning to be on stage, learning how to handle something going wrong, learning how music makes you feel, how it makes you move. Preparing for the opportunity to show itself. We've both worked really hard to be able to be in this position.

And to actually answer your questions, we don't actually feel like we deserve anything... We're working our way up the ladder just like everyone, we just happened to find a way to skip a few rungs. That doesn't mean we aren't still living or dying by our creations. It just means we're able to create without the looming fear of being completely broke. We're lucky and we know that, but don't let these shows trick you into thinking that it doesn't take work to be on one, let alone win. It took work and it still takes work... A lot of work.


Q:

The psychiatrists I have seen do not have strong interest in my personal issues. They seem to be only interested in the symptoms. After I have described the symptoms briefly, they start talking about the dosage of the medication. Based on my experience, it is possible for psychiatrists prescribe effective medication with just the knowledge of symptoms without understanding of the personal issues. However, is this what you should expect from a psychiatrist - that is not too keen to listen to the patients' problems? Or have I been meeting the wrong psychiatrists? For example, the psychiatrist I have been seeing for nearly a year always speaks the wrong language to me (I cannot understand Chinese). He does not remember my preferred language!

A:

I for one am VERY glad you auditioned for Xfactor, other wise I am not sure when I would have discovered you both. I love your voices together pure magic.


Q:

I'm sorry to hear that this is your experience. Yes, there are psychiatrists focus primarily on medication. I would say majority of psychiatrists do focus on medication and so your experience, while not pleasant, is not uncommon. I don't think psychiatrists should treat without an understanding of psychological issues, but it happens. :/

Medication cannot address the psychological causes of the distress, but it can help with the symptoms. I find medication helpful particularly when the symptoms are severe and prevents the client from processing and addressing psychological issues. e.g. a client who is severely depressed may not be able to make it to therapy or is unable to focused during therapy.

A:

Also, good luck with your music! :)


Q:

[deleted]

A:

I think that you might be right and that your fantasies stem from your traumatic experience. It sounds like things were very very difficult for you. I'm sorry that you suffered the way you did. Even though there is an explanation for your fantasies, I would encourage you to get help for what you have gone through in the past.


Q:

I have a mental illness (type 2 bipolar) and a degree in psychology/biology. I've been able to do some work in the mental health field, but am unable to last longer than 6 months before an episode hits. I've heard that some companies are attempting to instill mental health days. If so, I think a lot of people could benefit. Do you think that this is something needed? How can we go about making this a priority?

A:

Hi, I'm sorry to hear that things have been tough for you. Yes! I think it is essential that we have better insurance coverage for mental health treatments and that employers recognize that there is no health without mental health. There are some EAP (Employee Assisted Programs) starting up, but these are usually time limited. I think that companies should provide support for individuals suffering with a mental illness the same way they support individuals suffering from physical illnesses. How do we go about that? It's about raising awareness and bringing it out into the open. Start and sustain the dialogue about it. Talk about it. In Malaysia, I think the fact that 1 in 3 suffer from a mental health disorder should compel us to rethink our attitude towards mental illness. It's not uncommon anymore. Ignoring it doesn't make it go away. Talking about it doesn't increase the prevalence (yes, some people actually think this).


Q:

I suffer from a myriad of psychological/psychiatric disorders- the major ones being bipolar, anxiety, ADD, and a touch of asperbergs. Is an actual 'cure' for any of these a relative possibility in the near future or will it continue to be a matter of treating symptoms as they occur?

A:

Hey, I'm sorry to hear that. That's a good question. Some disorders are certainly more "curable" than others e.g. depression. An individual can suffer from just one depressive episode in their lifetime. The ones that you mentioned - Bipolar and Aspergers are "lifetime" disorders. Anxiety would depend on what kind of anxiety you have e.g. phobias which can be treated very successfully ("cure"). I suspect that the "lifetime" disorders would involve symptom management in the near future. E.g. You'll always need to be careful about your sleep and stressful negative life events to prevent an onset of a manic episode.
But in the far future? I'm certainly hoping that we will come up with better treatment! We are on track, but the complexities of these disorders require a lot of research.


Q:

Damn.... I'm screwed. Damn you depression!

A:

In some ways, all of us are screwed. :) We are all vulnerable to having a mental illness...just like having a physical illness. Anyone can have an illness. That's why the stigma doesn't really make sense! Some physical illness leaves you with a limp (e.g. a broken leg that didn't set properly). You still function really well, but there are certain activities you need to be more careful about.


Q:

"It is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to that"

How much of this meme is true? It seems that our personal reality is mostly constructed by our mind. This suggests perspectives we choose to take or train ourselves to take are very powerful. So, can we train ourselves into healthy / resilient beings?

A:

Hey, I haven't seen that meme. I'll Google it now. First thought: I don't think it's a fixed percentage..:) I think that our reality is very much influenced by our perceptions. And we can certainly "train" ourselves to be healthy beings.

But 1. I don't want to psychopathologize every single thing. If someone we love passes away, and we grieve about it, that's perfectly fine and normal. We have normal negative human feelings. 2. I don't want to ignore "real" life. There is reality beyond our social construction. Someone passes away = reality. I'm sick = reality. These are objective events. And then there are the subjective events that are open to interpretation. "My best friend read my messaged (I saw the tick!) and did not reply" =>Multiple interpretations. E.g. She hates me, She's busy, She is at a meeting, my message isn't worth replying to.


Q:

Well, this is helpful for me but it doesn't mean I would necessarily arrive at the truth. If it's a solitary incident, I'm inclined to go clarify with the person; if it happens many times, maybe there's an underlying feeling of insecurity that I need to address in myself, or a larger issue in the friendship it would also be helpful to work out?

A:

Yes, that's a good point Jennsmer. If it is a solitary incident, do clarify. If it happens over and over again (reassurance seeking where you ask your friend: "Are you angry? Are you sure?"), then reassurance seeking behaviour will strain the relationship. In that case, training yourself to think the best of the person and choosing a more adaptive interpretation is very helpful!


Q:

When treating a depression, is there some kind of escalation of the means to hand to the patient?

(E.g. First some SSRI, then ssri + therapy, then meds + hospitalization)

A:

Hi, 1. First you would want to rule out/check any physical illnesses (which may be the cause of the depression). For depression, a combination treatment of medication and psychotherapy has been found to be very helpful. I personally am not inclined to recommend medication without any psychotherapy. 2. Hospitalization is usually reserved for the severely depressed individuals who need monitoring or are a danger themselves (suicidal). So yes I agree with you.:) I think there is an escalation of care.


Q:

What is your view on the Kübler-Ross model (i.e. the 5 stages of grief) and it's use?

Should it's use be limited to the original setting (i.e. projection of terminally ill patient's mental state) as originally presented in the book "Kübler-Ross, E. (1969) On Death and Dying" or can the model's use be expanded (as it has been in popular culture) to include more mundane situations like a bad day at work or a stressful situation?

A:

Hi! Well, I think it is useful for some individuals to identify what a relative "normal" process of grieving looks like. However, there is individual differences in the progression through the stages. So I may not go through depression after bargaining, but I might go through it straight before denial.

I also think that some might misunderstand the stages to mean that you can't be depressed (because there is a cause). Grief could be a cause for a depressive episode.

I actually did not know that some people use it in mundane situations. I am guessing that some people use it just because it's popular. Then again, I don't think it's fair to judge what a "real loss" is. If someone's pet died, they very well might experience these 5 emotions (or fewer) but still deeply and for a period of time. But perhaps just a bad day at work is a stretch! One could be stressed :) IMHO


Q:

what are some pieces of advice/tips you would give someone who wants to do psychology when they enter university?

A:

Embrace all of it. My students are surprised by the fact that Psychology is a science. So there is research, statistics, and lots of reading! Psychology is not a subject you can cram for at all, IMHO. Get as much practical experience as you can - be it research or clinical.


Q:

I have a few questions. Since your focus is in self-regulation and motivation, I assume it can be applied to many psychopathies.

What is your treatment approach for disorders like binge eating and for those who have trouble with impulse control? How is it different than the mainstay treatments of these disorders? Could you describe what a typical session of yours would look like with your clients?

A:

Hey! I would use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to treat individuals with binge eating disorders and impulse control. I tend to take an eclectic approach to therapy. I take a client-centered approach and work with the client to come up with a treatment plan that he/she is comfortable with and agrees with. Having said that, I do believe in using treatments that are empirically based. So I wouldn't use hypotherapy to treat Binge Eating Disorder for example. I would probably use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). A typical session looks like : My client and I discussing what happened over the week, going over homework (if there is any), and talking about whatever issues are relevant/important to my client.


Q:

Thank you for your response.

I'm also curious about the stigma toward mental disorders in Malaysia or in the east in general and when compared to the the views of the west?

How do Malaysian generally feel toward treating mental disorders as a physical real condition and diease?

A:

Sorry about this. I didn't see your reply. I find that there is greater sigma in the East then in the West. There is no insurance coverage for treatment in the East vs. west. People are asked to declare if they hah or have a mental illness on their job applications which may very well affect their chances of the job. Therapy is seen as a last resort rather then something that is normal and helpful. Malaysians rather see mental illness as a physical illness. Taking a pill to make life " better". I suspect they want to see mental illness purely as physical rather than psychological because a psychological explanation makes them feel like they are "weaker" , or just " crazy". If it's a physical explanation then it's like having as flu or like cancer which they can understand. But this also means that underlying issues are not dealt with, only symptoms. The chances of relapse is higher with just meds vs. psychotherapy.


Q:

How useful is CBT?

A:

Very useful! It's one of the most well researched psychotherapies that we have and has been shown to be effective in alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorders etc.


Q:

I was diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) when I was a child. I was medicated through school and college. I stopped taking my medication for a while but recently started taking it again. I've noticed that my symptoms are worse on the days when I forget to take my medication. Is this normal, and how concerned should I be about depression and my ADD?

A:

I am assuming you are referring to medication for ADD? Any medication prescribed for long-term chronic use can have this effect- i.e., you feel worsening symptoms when you stop the medication. This does not mean that you're addicted to the drug. Rather, from a pharmacological point of view, your body has adjusted itself to this "new normal". Hence, on days where you miss a dose, you may feel worse than before you started. Talk to your psychiatrist about your mood and other symptoms you are experiencing, make sure that the medication is at the right dosage, and seek psychotherapy. Psychologists can help you with your depression and also provide ways of coping better with ADD to help you function at your optimal level.


Q:

What is one thing everyone should do to improve their mental health?

A:

Hi, I am a fan of gratitude exercises. The research shows that these exercises are really helpful. 1. Write down 3 good things that happened you and why they happened. E.g. Event: My boyfriend bought me a chocolate cake. Because: he cared about me and was trying to cheer me up on a bad day. 2. Write a letter to someone to whom you are grateful to. Be very specific about what you are grateful about and thank the person.


Q:

Trauma can solve violence. Mindfulness class should be taught along side history class. I work with Great Hearts but I don't have any pull. How do we get meditation in to schools?

A:

Hi Megamindbrian, You are right, mindfulness can be helpful. Like you, however, I don't have any pull as well! :) I think that you could start by talking to the board of education of your school and show them the research on mindfulness. I would suggest that it should not be tied to just history classes, but rather well-being. Parents may be cautious about mindfulness however, so it is not something that should be forced on students. Which is why pushing for it to be taught in schools may be a harder sell. Possible what's an easier sell is having after school mindfulness sessions offered to students, run by a therapist. All the best!


Q:

How do you change a person's ambitions?

A:

Hi Megamindbrian, I don't usually aim to change a person's ambitions. By ambitions I mean something the person is striving towards? If I don't think the ambition is a good fit, I would encourage the person to go for career counselling, to find out more about the job, gain some internship experience, explore different options. However, if the person is adamant on it, I am unlikely to stand in the person's way (assuming that the ambition is legal and not harmful). I am not living the person's life, and so that person needs to figure out what he/she wants to do for him/herself. Ultimately the choice is theirs because the life is theirs to live and experience.