sadness

  1. Mental illness for everyone

    You might not feel mentally ill -- but you are. You just haven't been diagnosed yet.

    The psychiatric industry is getting ready to update its "bible," the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and you're not going to believe what's inside it.

    Just about every common emotion, condition, quirk, challenging life event, or personal flaw will become a disorder to be diagnosed and treated in the new book.

    It's so wacky even the shrinks themselves are protesting it: More than 11,000 mental health professionals and counting have signed an online petition to stop it before it's published.

    But maybe they don't really mean that -- maybe they're just suffering from "oppositional defiant disorder," one of the many proposed new conditions.

    Yes, I AM serious.

    That one's actually aimed at kids, of course, and it's what we used to just call "being a brat" or maybe even a "teenager." The definition includes "performs deliberate actions to annoy others."

    Can you think of a single kid who has never deliberately annoyed others?

    Of course, children aren't the only ones being targeted. You're in the crosshairs, too.

    Sad over the death of a loved one? No you're not! You're actually mentally ill, locked in a battle with "chronic depressive disorder."

    At least you'll have company: That same label is also going to be slapped on anyone who's lonely or just plain unhappy.

    Don't give a hoot about stuff? You've got apathy syndrome. I'd tell you more about that one...but I just don't care.

    Spending too much time online? You need treatment for Internet addiction disorder. No more House Calls for you!

    Even serious and violent crime would get a makeover in the new book. Rapists, for example, are just sick now -- fighting off "paraphilic coercive disorder."

    You just can't make this stuff up.

    Once you have millions of new "sick" patients, you get millions of new customers -- and not for some simple talk therapy. Talk therapy is on the outs -- many shrinks don't offer it, and many insurance companies offer little to no coverage for it.

    No, the real goal here is to get more patients on meds, because everyone wins: Shrinks make more in 15-minute sessions renewing and tweaking prescriptions than they ever did in 45-minute talk therapy sessions. It's cheaper per patient for insurers. And, of course, the drug industry loves it so much they'd print the new book themselves if they could.

    Everyone wins -- well, except you of course.

    I'm not done with mental health yet. Keep reading for the latest on depression.

  2. Risky business: Sleepless kids are bad news

    Kids who miss out on sleep aren't just groggy in school -- they're also far more likely to do all the things that give parents nightmares.

    From fistfights to fighting off depression, smoking pot to sucking back sugary drinks, researchers say kids who don't get the time they need in bed are busy doing other things… and clearly not the things you want your kids doing.

    Using data from the 2007 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the researchers found that 69 percent of 12,100 kids between 12 and 18 years old got less than eight hours of sleep a night.

    And these children -- the vast majority of kids, obviously -- were more likely to engage in some of the worst-of-the-worst activities: sex, booze, smoking, marijuana, and fistfights.

    It didn't stop there, either. These kids were also more likely to battle mood problems, including sadness and depression, and even entertain serious thoughts of suicide.

    Next to all that, the rest of the "risky" behaviors seem downright tame: The researchers say sleepless kids are more likely to drink a sugary soda each day, get less physical activity, and spend too much time on the computer.

    Maybe it's just that kids who stay up later stay out later -- and are more likely to be in situations where they'd engage in risky activities. Or maybe it's just the fact that, at 69 percent, sleepless kids make up such a huge percentage that they're more likely to do just about anything.

    Whatever the reason, as long as you keep control over what goes on in your home, make sure to set some rules about bedtime -- because even if your children aren't out boozing, smoking pot, and having sex, a lack of sleep could have an impact on everything from their waistlines to their schoolwork.

    Remember, a kid may hate the rules of the house -- but those same rules will help set either a long lifetime of good habits… or a shorter span of bad ones.

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