Mental Illness Affects 1 in 5 Families

Mental Illness Affects 1 in 5 Families

Mental illness is so prevalent in the U.S. that we now have a reduced life expectancy as a result of 2 specific causes, and the pandemic is only making things worse. Dr. Ken Duckworth, the chief medical officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), joins Dr. H to talk about how his organization helps those with bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, schizophrenia, depression, thoughts of suicide, and other conditions.

Looking for help? Learn about NAMI by clicking HERE.

Is there a topic you’d like Dr. Hallowell to explore in a podcast? Write an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected].

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Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distruction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
If anybody here is listening to Ned’s podcast and lives with schizophrenia, or loves someone with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe post-traumatic distress, has had a suicide attempt, NAMI is a great group. It is a great group, and one thing you’ll know is that people will listen to you. They won’t dismiss you, they know how hard this is, they know how much pain there is in this, and they will embrace you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello and welcome to Distruction, I am your host Dr. Ned Hallowell. I am really excited about our show today. As you know, I have some very special people in my life and one of those is Dr. Ken Duckworth. I’ve known him since he was a resident back at Mass Mental Health Center, and I used to call him one of the living saints of this world. He’s an amazing man, he’s a Harvard professor, a psychiatrist and the Chief Medical Officer for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Ken and I share a personal history in that both of us had bipolar fathers, and that’s what brought us into the field. We exchange stories about that often. Ken is also double board certified in adult and child psychiatry, and he’s completed a forensic psychiatry fellowship, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about. He’s also an incredibly devoted dad to his three wonderful, brilliant daughters and has made them his top priority throughout his life. Another thing we share with me and my three kids and him with his three kids.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We over the years have grown up together and even though I’m a little bit older than he is, he is one of the most special people I know. Without further ado, let me welcome my friend the…

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I’ve got to meet this guy if any of that’s true.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well he is.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
[crosstalk 00:02:35].

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s you Ken, just look in the mirror.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
[inaudible 00:02:37] all right, so I want to start with a story if I may.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Please.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
This is about Ned, and in 1986 I took the radical path which was extremely unfashionable, to write about my dad’s bipolar disorder as the reason I wanted to become a psychiatrist. This essay was very personal and intense and real, my father was a very good man with a very bad illness. I spent a lot of time at state hospitals, police coming to the house and then on alternate summers or falls or winters, my friends and relatives saying, “How come you got the nice dad?”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I’m like, “Yes, I did get the nice dad,” but there was an asterisk there which is that, his bipolar disorder was quite severe and it made a big mark on me. This is 1986, this is NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness had just gotten started. I thought, “I’m just going to write the truth because for God’s sake I’m going into psychiatry. Surely someone will understand what this is like and have been through a personal experience.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Little did I know how naïve that was and I went to 15 of the best programs in America. 14 of those people ignored my essay, literally talking to me about my major in Political Science or my passion for college football, which is ongoing. I went to the University of Michigan and no, I don’t want to talk about Ohio State.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
One person that I interviewed with the day before I saw Ned in Boston, at our world’s famous Harvard Institution, said to me, he’s the only person besides Ned who I met the next day who took a look at my essay. He said, “So, you want to help your father, that’s a terrible reason to become a psychiatrist.” I say that with an accent because he had an accent.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
He apparently was a very famous person because I was a 26-year-old scared kid out of medical school, I didn’t know what that whole thing was that he was a world famous psychoanalyst. I said, “Well, I have been traumatized by this experience, but I loved him very much. I thought it might be good if I could see if I could make a difference because I know a little bit about what it’s like to love someone with a severe illness and see them for their strengths.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
He further ridiculed me and before I left and I walked out to my car, burst into tears and didn’t even finish the interview with that world famous program, I asked him, “One last question,” and again I sound like I have confidence but I don’t at the time. I’m a kid, I know no one. I said, “What would be a good reason to become a psychiatrist?” He paused for a minute, I think nobody had ever asked him that hard of a question. Paused for a really long time and he said, “Well, if your father is a psychiatrist, that would be a good reason.” I said, “Don’t we have something of a workforce shortage in the field?” Like I did say it, I got in one punch but then I left and I even skipped the free lunch, which is very unlike me if you knew me at all. I walked in my car, burst into tears and the next day I met Ned Hallowell.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Now, I’m going to finish this story about this world famous hospital flash forward 14 years and I’m the commissioner of mental health and this hospital does something very bad to a patient. When I called them into my office I wanted to remind them that I had the power to shut their facility because I was over licensing and control. What I did is, I didn’t do that of course. Maybe wonder what kind of person I was because I did have the power to actually harm them back, but I said, “I’d like to tell you a story.” I told them this story about how they had treated me when I was a nobody, but now I was the commissioner of mental health with power over their facility. I don’t know if they listened to my story, but it was very therapeutic to tell it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That next day I got up and I thought, “Maybe psychiatry isn’t for me.” I liked cardiology and I noticed they drove nicer cars than the psychiatry. I thought maybe I could just switch my whole orientation and just go into cardiology. I like talking to people about their hearts, it seemed very concrete and I really thought that morning that it wasn’t for me.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
After 14 programs had ignored me, one program had humiliated me, the last interview I did was with Ned Hallowell at the Massachusetts Health Center. The other three people I interviewed with at Mass Mental Health Center were very nice, but they also ignored my essay. It was just too much to take on, I mean you want to deal with this guy’s problems and his issues and how does that fit into who he is?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Ned read my essay and I’m going to say 45 or 50 people I interviewed across America, he was the only person who read the essay, looked at me and said, “What a great thing. You know what this is like. Do you know what a difference you can make in people’s lives?” When Ned said that to me, I made a decision to move to Boston from Philadelphia. I’m still affiliated with the same Massachusetts Mental Health Center three decades later.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It matters how you talk to people and it matters how you talk to them about their vulnerabilities. Ned was encouraging and supportive. You also encouraged me to pursue my actual interest, which was the first person and family experience of living with a condition and try to master it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Then of course I found the National Alliance on Mental Illness or they found me, and I’ve been their National Medical Director now Chief Medical Officer for 15 years. I found this community of people who live their first experience and the family experience and Ned’s encouragement, pursue what you want to do. You might actually have some knowledge or advantage through your traumatic experiences that will help you be a better doctor.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s a long story about Ned, but it’s the crucial story of my becoming a psychiatrist because for that one day after I was humiliated at the world famous Harvard Institution down the street, I thought seriously about becoming a cardiologist.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well I’m glad you didn’t do that Ken.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I do drive a Mazda, it should be noted I could be driving a Bima, but psychiatry is my calling. I just needed one person to respond to my essay with an affirmation or at least an inquiry of, why was that important? Ned you made a big difference in my career and I shall never forget that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much and you in turn have made a huge difference in the lives of thousands if not millions of people around the country. With various kinds of mental illness, do you want to just talk a little bit about, what are some of the misconceptions in the general public that you could disabuse people of?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well I’d start with the idea that these aren’t real illnesses. Back in the day before this thing called mental health parody, I testified before Congress in multiple state houses that my dad had bipolar disorder which easily could have killed him if he didn’t receive medical care, and his medical care was the bare minimum. I had the misfortune of having cancer as a psychiatric resident and I could have been dead of course through an illness that would have killed me if I had not attended to it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I said and somehow in our society, this is in the 1990s, cancer is considered legitimate, [inaudible 00:10:11] casseroles they call you a hero. They offer to cover for you, they send you flowers. My father after his manic episodes was isolated, alone, people wouldn’t talk to us at church. Church is supposed to be theoretically nice people, who would all move away from us after a manic episode. I thought, this was a big part of my life in my 40s which was to fight for this idea of mental health parody.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
These conditions are real conditions. Is it true that there’s things that we don’t know about the brain that’s absolutely true? Is it true that I can’t tell you how lithium works to save people’s lives? It’s true. Might have something to do with membrane stabilization, but is it true that we don’t really know how the antipsychotics impact voices? The answer is, it’s really humbling because there’s a lot we don’t know. The fact that we don’t know a lot about the brain has nothing to do with the fact that these are real conditions.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
If you need to any further proof, I mean look at the evidence on suicide which has gone up steadily over the last two decades. From 1999 to 2018, we’ve had essentially a straight line of increase in suicide. At the same time we’ve had an increase in overdoes deaths too to opioids. These two illnesses together are conditions, are outcomes together are for the first time in 100 years caused a reduction in the American life expectancy.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Really? Wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The deaths by suicide and the deaths by overdose, the French continue to smoke their brains out, drink coffee up to the max and their life span keeps expanding. This is an American problem, and it has something to do with health disparity, it has something to do with the complexity of the uninsured but it has a lot to do with the fact that mental illnesses are not fully treated. Because of our problem with opioids, we’ve seen a lot of premature death.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
When you say mental health parody, Ken, what does that mean, mental health parody?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Mental health parody means your insurance company can’t give you unlimited visits to see your oncologist, which of course as a cancer patient when I was a young man, I was allowed to do anything I wanted to. I think my treatment probably cost half a million dollars, while final copay was 50 bucks. Cancer was legitimate, my illness was legitimate. Was I grateful? I’m incredibly grateful. Medical science saved my life but the insurance company at the same time would have $500 as your outpatient psychotherapy maximum.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That meant I could go see an oncologist twice a week if I wanted to, but I can only see a mental health practitioner perhaps five times if they charge $100 an hour. If they had the courage to charge 250 an hour, I only had two sessions that were covered. This is the inequity that was structured into the mental health system and into health insurance.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Mental health parody was a big cause celeb of mine personally and largely National Alliance on Mental Illness made this happen. The first version was 1998, Domenici and Wellstone. Domenici was a Senator from New Mexico, Wellstone a Democrat from Minnesota and they together had family members with serious mental illness. They got it, and they did version kind of 1.0 and then later on Patrick Kennedy with the affordable Care Act and all the activity after the housing collapsed 2008.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
This amendment was tied to it, and to make the long story short, mental health access has improved. I think a lot of people still feel that we’re not at true parody yet. That means treating them exactly the same, but I do think we’re going in the right direction.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What percentage of families in the country have at least one member who does have a serious mental illness?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The answer Ned is one in five Americans would endorse, one in five families have a person who would endorse an anxiety disorder, a depressive disorder. Another mood disorder like bipolar disorder, psychotic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD, these are kind of the major categories. For serious mental illness the number is smaller, that’s about one in 17 people has a condition that is severely impacting their functioning. That is brain based and it involves emotion, behavior, cognition that is severely impacting their functioning. Frequently with work, relationships and their health and self-care.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. What percentage of people who could benefit from help from a mental health professional actually consult the mental health professional?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s a good question. We think less than half of people with most mental health conditions actually get help.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well the good news is since we’ve done this whole mental health parody thing, the number of people who are seeking help is increasing. We saw this in the pandemic. NAMI has a helpline 1-800-950-NAMI which is staffed by individuals with first person experience or family experience. Our calls went up very substantially.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The other thing which was surprising in the pandemic is the American mental health field not known for sprinting, pivoted in three days to become a teleservice. The experience of the therapists and the patients has been very positive, although not universally positive, but I think it’s a new way of delivering care that’s here to stay.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The therapists were surprised that the people always show up, that the cancellation rate is low. That they don’t have that first five minutes of accession where they can read CNN online because the patient show up on time as they do for their professional meetings or other Zoom calls during the course of the day. The patients notice that it’s convenient, they get heard and they don’t have to pay for parking or fight traffic.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I think that for people who don’t have a lot of privacy, it’s important to have a phone service covered so people can go into their car. If you live in a studio apartment with another person and part of your experience is to talk about that person, privacy can be a challenge. I do think there are people who are a little bit paranoid of technology. There are people for whom this isn’t an ideal setup. I think if you talk to people they’d rather see somebody like you Ned in person, but given the fact that we’re in the middle of our first pandemic in our lifetime, the rules have changed. I think the mental health field has responded.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
They’ve changed by using Zoom or some other platform, that’s one.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Any platform that they’ve been using has made a difference, and it’s interesting the other fields of medicine have really struggled. How do I do ophthalmology care? How do I take care of people’s knee problems? Well, those things are very hard to do virtually but because our skillset is listening, judgment, empathy, compassion, and thoughtful reflection and potentially recommendations, that’s a skillset that’s ongoing.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We can’t touch the patients. We’re not supposed to take their blood pressure. We have to be thoughtful about what we’re trying to do here in the field of medicine and it turns out mental health is an incredibly easy thing to apply to the tele space. I think that’s been a great gift.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do you think that will continue after the pandemic is over?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I do think people will want to see their therapist in person. I think they’ll want to, but now that they’ve been thrown into the deep end of the teletherapy pool, and realized they can swim pretty well, I think a lot of people are going to say, “You know, it’s an hour to drive to Sudbury,” you probably don’t charge people for parking Ned at your office.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Sudbury’s not next to my house, so if I want to come see you as a professional, be an hour commitment going out, an hour commitment coming back, I’d had to pick up some apples in Concord on the way. It’s four hours round trip, so it’s a big commitment. If I could see you by pushing a button, then go back to work or engage in child care or do any other tasks that might be relevant like cooking dinner for the family, I think I might choose to do that some of the time. Some other time I just break down and make the trip.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
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Dr. Ned Hallowell:
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Dr. Ned Hallowell:
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Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What about the person who’s listening now and is saying, “This living at home and this keeping social distance is starting to drive me crazy.” That’s not a mental illness but what should that person do?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well first of all I don’t think anybody likes it. Although I have one friend who’s a psychiatrist who’s a severe introvert, who seems happier. He works out of his basement, has lunch with his wife every day. I go over to his backyard every other week, we stay at 20 feet away from each other and chat. I think his quality of life has improved. Now, this speaks to how individual this all this.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
True.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I of course I’m an extrovert.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes you are.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I struggle to not see my friends. I don’t like not going down to my coffee shop at the end of my street and hanging out, and talking to the owners. The owners are hiding in their masks, it’s not a convivial environment. In fact, all the tables have been removed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh gosh.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
You can have a standing chat for two minutes, nobody checks in about my daughter who used to work there, but there’s something lost there. I guess what I would say is isolation is hard on all of us. If you have an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, it’s a challenge. You have to figure out, how do you stay connected with people?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Connection is crucial for mental wellbeing and it doesn’t solve all problems, but through your faith group, through AA, through anomie connection, through some other vehicle. I have a Monday night meeting with four friends, we used to go out to dinner once a month and now we meet once a week. It’s fun.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I actually look forward to it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I have a friend deficit disorder during the variation on the thing you study. It’s hard to be isolated.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It is.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It is weary. I will say that, I do think it’s going to be a very long haul, like I don’t think the vaccine’s going to turn up and everything’s going to be okay. I think we’re up for a pro crafted experience, so figuring out what your inventory of coping skills is. Mine happens to be connecting with friends online, family reunions of sorts online. We’re doing a memorial service for a beloved member of the family this week in New Jersey. I didn’t really want to do it but somebody really wanted to get us together.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh good for you.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I’m driving to New Jersey and I’m going to see the family and it’s not the way I wanted to see them. I wanted to have a party and hang out and toast the family member, but what we’re going to do is have lunch under this tree where our little grave sites in Cape May, New Jersey and we’re going to have lunch. Elbow bump, and go back to our respective corners, extremely suboptimal.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I have come around from opposing this idea to believing it’s probably better to make it a choice to be connected.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yes.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
You mentioned that your family’s in North Carolina, see and they’re cousins right? There’s some risk there, but there’s a lot of benefit in the connection.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. There sure is, I mean it’s essential. I mean we’ve learned social isolation is as dangerous as cigarette smoking.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Yeah, it’s really not a good thing and so I really think we miss the boat when we called it social distancing. We should have called it physical distancing from the get-go. I think you’ve seen in this entire pandemic that we’ve missed several big boats. Telling people not to wear masks because we were trying to secure them from medical providers I think has confused a lot of people. Giving the impression that young people can’t really get the virus so they can feel free to party on at the beach. Again, just some young people duly noted.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I think we haven’t done a very good job and by calling it social distancing, I think we missed it. The idea is we have to stay away from each other because the virus is transmitted physically. Socially you got to stay connected to your people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
You really have to because that’s an antidepressant and an antianxiety treatment.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I call it the other vitamin C, vitamin connect.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
There we go, vitamin connect. It’s also good for people who have addiction vulnerabilities.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Connection is really important. I have a friend who’s a physician who’s in AA, and on his birthday, I checked in on him on his birthday and he said, “I had a great birthday.” I said, “What made it great?” He said, “Well, I’m here in my apartment and I have been to two AA meetings and I got a lot of love in both of them. It was new and I called them in the middle of the day.” I thought, “This man has figured something out.” He said, “I’d be at meetings anyway and it turns out the AA platform is very well suited, and it might even be better because when on a Zoom call, somebody’s speaking, you get to see their face. You’re not spacing out in the room like you might be the rest of the time.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
He found something that meant something to him and this is the art of self-care. You have to find out, what is it that will help you get through this because this might be a long haul? It’s not good for people to lose their jobs, it’s not good for people to live with the anxiety of losing their jobs and coping with the anxiety of someone you love getting ill or dying. There’s a lot to cope with.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We’re almost overtime, just coming back to irrational things and what to do to combat them, what can we do to dismantle the terrible stigma that still surrounds mental health issues?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I prefer the words prejudice discrimination to the word stigma, because the word stigma itself is complication of how you think about things. What is the prejudice that you have for yourself if you were to say, “Can I join this club?” Every time a famous person comes out and says, “I have such and such a condition,”… Selena Gomez two weeks ago did a talk with NAMI’s CEO. I’ve had several chat with famous celebrities on NAMI’s Instagram page. People want to talk about their mental health conditions and so this idea I have prejudice against somebody gets broken down when you see Selena Gomez, one of the most amazing humans on the planet has said, “I think it’s okay to talk about the fact that I’ve struggled with bipolar disorder, that’s very helpful.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The related thing about the attitudes is the discrimination. This gets back to our early discussion about mental health parody. The idea that you just structure and rules that jam people who don’t have illnesses that are considered quote legitimate end quote. This is why mental health parody’s an ongoing struggle, we continue to have lawsuits and interpretations and attorney generals review it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
What are the conditions under which the race is actually fair for a person with mental health condition? Can you allow yourself to seek help? Still, a challenge for many men. There was a pretty good study a little while ago, showed that the more hypertoxic, masculinity men endorsed, the more likely they were to have very bad outcomes including suicide. The idea somehow being threatened by mental health is such an unfortunate piece of our culture and I think this ordinary human experiences… My dad’s bipolar disorder, hearing voices and believing that he was Jesus wasn’t great. It is 2.7% of the population plus or minus has this condition. It’s rooted in biology. It’s treatable for the most part. It requires a lot of self-knowledge and self-care.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Was it difficult? It was very difficult. Was it worse before there were things like NAMI and Selena Gomez to use two examples? Yes, it was worse. There’s a NAMI chapter in every major American city that’s doing connection groups and programming, educational work. Advocacy if you feel the service system is mistreating you or somebody you love. Well let’s fight to make it better. Mental health parody, that fight is not over. We’ve won some battles but that war is not over.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I feel like there’s a place to go now if you’re struggling with this, and you will be welcomed by people who are loving and creative. A community of people who probably didn’t start their lives thinking, “I want to be identified with a condition that it does not have a high status.” Like mental health problems, mental health conditions, turns out it’s an amazing group of people and I consider it my second family. NAMI is in my will.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I feel like NAMI helped to save my life by giving me a sense of purpose around these wounds I had. I feel so fortunate to have stumbled upon it, and if anybody here is listening to Ned’s podcast and lives with schizophrenia or loves someone with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe post-traumatic distress, has had a suicide attempt, NAMI is a great group. It is a great group and one thing you’ll know is that people will listen to you, they won’t dismiss you. They know how hard this is, they know how much pain there is in this, and they will embrace you.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I think the question about prejudice discrimination is, can you take the first step? I might be talking to your primary care doctor about the fact that you can’t sleep, you’ve lost 30 pounds, you’ve lost interest in everything. You’re thinking about giving away your possessions. That’s a classic depression, you could reach out to your primary care doctor. They prescribe most of the antidepressants in America, they help people, they might be able to refer you to somebody who does therapy. Or if you don’t want to go that route, you could start with NAMI and find a local NAMI chapter and say, “What are the resources that are out there? How can I find a path to be supported and connected while living with this particular challenge that I have?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You go to nami.org, is that the website?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Nami.org is where it’s at. We get millions of hits and we’ve become the dominant source of information for people in the last year. It’s been interesting to me to see that because I have tremendous respect for the other communities, NIMH, the American Psychiatric Association. More people seem to be seeking media inputs and lessons from our website, so people have come to trust NAMI and I’m grateful for that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well that has a lot to do with you Ken I mean because you’re the face of it and the spokesman for it. There’s no one I know who’s more convincing, believable. You’ve done such a great job.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well thank you Ned and if it wasn’t for you, I’d be practicing cardiology today, driving a BMW.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I think also the image problem would be helped if more people talked about, it’s hard to find a very creative person who doesn’t have either an anxiety disorder, a depressive disorder, addiction, or ADHD. It’s common among those countries or common among the highly creative people amongst us.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Yeah, if you want to do a treatise on this, Kay Jamison’s, Touched By Fire is the artistic temperament and mood disorders. It’s unbelievable-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
… how many of the artists that we would hold out as our greatest artists were clearly quote touched by fire. Maybe not with formal diagnostic schemes but she goes through their-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, they were crazy as hell, I mean you know.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
… diaries, their writings, their observations and you’re absolutely right Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, it’s…

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
For many people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, so it’s not to be ashamed at all. By the time I die I want people to wish they had ADHD because if you manage it right, it’s such an asset. It can ruin your life as well, but if listening to Ken if you’re listening and you know someone, don’t think of it as a marker of shame. Think of it as a marker of talent. I tell people overtime I don’t…

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Or of resilience.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We all have to cope with something and the faiths conspired through genetics and environment and epigenetics to have you have a recurrent condition. You’re not alone with that, in fact there are millions of people who are living with these kind of things and together you can get a lot out of it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I do want to say one thing that I still quote you about whenever I’m confronted with somebody who says, “I have a young child and he was just told he had ADHD.” I said, “Ned Hallowell would say you have a BMW brain and a Chevy hand.” They said, “How did you know he can’t write?” I’m like, “Well, it’s the Chevy hand, it’s right there. All the great ideas, he’s having trouble translating it.” A few things that you’ve said Ned have really stuck with me including one you said to one of my daughters who was diagnosed with ADHD, you said, “So you have the gift?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, exactly.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It was a great moment, it was a great moment in her life because thinking about these things which have the potential to identify you as different or less than through a different lens, that there’s a possibility, there’s a potentiality inside of us.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. No, I don’t treat disabilities, I help people unwrap their gifts.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I think that you do the same thing. What you’re doing it’s such spectacular work. I mean it really is, it’s a wonderful thing. I’m glad that NAMI is now the leading source of information. As I said that’s thanks to Dr. Ken Duckworth.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well it’s a whole team of people, but I do think-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, I know, I know.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
… people trust a consumer family experience and we also made a decision about three years ago, every research study we cite is listed on the website. If you don’t believe what we say, click on the research study and you can see that it’s only 400 people but it’s the best study there is on this topic.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We make everything as transparent as possible, goes back to the antiscience discussion we’ve had, I believe in science, I believe in education. I believe that people have the capacity to learn and make decisions for themself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
If you want to see what the literature is on a specific treatment or an intervention, or on the risks or traumas that attend to certain things, it’s on the NAMI website and it’s all transparent.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yup, nami.org, N-A-M-I.org, not .com .org. N-A-M-I.org. Well you know Ken, I could talk to you for so long, this is wonderful. You’ve brought so much and you do so much. If people listening want to learn more and want to connect, feel a part of a growing community of people who have different brains and learn how to understand them better-

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… join a group [crosstalk 00:36:51].

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The other thing you might want to check out and dish to our groups is, I run a session called Ask the Expert, once a month. Where I get the leading thinkers in American mental health to talk about different topics and people who join in.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Beautiful.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We run about 1,000 people per session.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wonderful, wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Can ask questions and we cover everything from transcranial magnetic stimulation to minority disparities in mental health.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow! What’s the latest on transcranial magnetic stimulation?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well I think it’s pretty well covered by private insurance.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, but does it work is my question?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It does have an acute indication, so if you fail on several meds, because nobody would start with an engine problem by doing a major overhaul of your engine. You would probably add oil first, check the timing of the engine. TMS does appear more invasive, but I took a three-day course at the Beth Israel Hospital in transcranial magnetic stimulation. I was impressed mostly by not the fact that when they zapped my brain it felt like a bee sting to the skull. Like I’m like, “How did they do a generic sham zap? How would you know the difference between that zap?” I was very interested in that.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I talked to the techs instead of listening to only the professionals and I [inaudible 00:38:18] about five of the techs. I said to them, “What do people say when they say our show rate is 95%?” I thought, “Okay, that’s telling me something, people feel they’re getting a benefit.” My understanding of literature Ned, is the maintenance use of TMS has not really been well established. I don’t think there’s really a research base for that and I don’t think it’s well established for bipolar disorder or psychosis.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That would just be an example of a discussion, that if you have depression and the other interventions haven’t worked, there is some evidence there that this could be helpful to you. The side effects are apparently quite mild in terms of a headache or something like that. People show up at very high levels and it makes a different for people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. You are a living saint and can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your amazingly busy schedule to join us. Listeners go to nami.org, N-A-M-I.org or go to Ken’s Ask the Expert, happens once a month. Join a chapter, get involved, suddenly you will feel so much less alone and so much more accepted. You’ll learn, you’ll gain knowledge which is power in and of itself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you all for joining us, so much thank you especially Ken. As I say, learn more go to nami.org and don’t forget, please reach out to us with your questions, comments and show ideas. We need them, we live off of them, we use them, and we produce them. Send an email or a voicemail to [email protected], that’s [email protected]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distruction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the estimable Scott Persson and our producer is the always vivacious and brilliant Sarah Guertin. I am your host Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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1 Comment

  • Carol Posted October 29, 2020 6:12 am

    It is important to be able to manage your stress psychologically, periodically detoxify the body and monitor the work of the intestines, be sure to engage in physical exercise. My stress led me to obesity. At the initial stage of weight gain, of course, I thought to do without medical intervention, but then it all happened again and I myself could not cope. And only stem cell treatment in the clinic – https://www.startstemcells.com/ really helped me, now I live life to the fullest!

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