In light of Mental Health Week let’s bust a few myths about mental health with a little help from Winnie-the-Pooh characters.

Winnie-the-Pooh was created by A. A. Milne in 1926 and later acquired by Disney.

The children’s series was analysed by Dalhousie University’s Pediatrics Department who found the characters were textbook cases of psychological disorders.

Their findings were published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2000.

Schizophrenia

Christopher Robin – the only human character and he talks to animals who are a figment of his imagination. He is a cheerful and compassionate boy.
Catchphrase: “Silly old bear” – directed at best friend Pooh and “Pooh, promise you won’t forget me, ever?”.

Myth: People with schizophrenia have split or multiple personalities.

Fact: Schizophrenia is not a split personality disorder. The word schizophrenia comes from Greek words that mean ‘split mind’, the split is referring to a split from reality – not a split or multiple personality (Source: NEOMed).

Addiction

Winnie-the-Pooh – in constant search for honey, friendly, caring.
Catchphrase: ”Oh bother” –  often in relation to not being able to get his paws on honey.

Myth: Addiction is a willpower problem.

Fact: This old belief is based on blaming addicts for using drugs to excess. It is reinforced by observations that addiction and alcoholism is treated with behavioral therapies, which are perceived to build self-control. However, addiction occurs in an area of the brain called the mesolimbic dopamine system that is not under conscious control (Source: HBO).

Eating Disorder

Winnie-the-Pooh seems to also have an eating disorder…he’s always hungry and binging on honey.
Quote: “The only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it”.

Myth: Binge eating isn’t a real disorder.

Fact:  Some say binge eating disorder is a fake disorder – a term people use as an excuse to keep eating. However, it’s a real disorder that’s listed (along with anorexia and bulimia) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Currently listed as an eating disorder “not otherwise specified” psychologists are considering giving binge eating disorder (BED) its own entry when the new DSM comes out in 2013 (Source: CBS).

Major Depression

Eeyore – sad, gloomy & pessimistic.
Catchphrase: “Thanks for noticin’ me”. 

Myth: Depressed people should wake up and get a grip and stop feeling sorry for themselves.

Truth: People don’t choose to be depressed. Depression is an illness that can be treated with help from health professionals. It’s not something that people can just “snap out of” (Source: Reachout)

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Piglet – timid, fearful & nervous.
Catchphrase: “Oh d-d-dear dear” and “It’s awfully hard to be b-b-b-b-brave when you’re such a small animal.”

Myth: Eliminating or avoiding anxiety triggers will eliminate anxiety attacks.

Fact: Although some people can effectively eliminate or reduce some triggers of their anxiety attacks, this does not always work if someone does not learn coping strategies. It is much more effective to learn how to cope with anxiety attacks and to seek medical help as avoiding triggers and situations can only further strength the fear and anxiety (Source: Health Central).

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Tigger – impulsive, outgoing, risk-taker.
Catchphrase: “Bouncing is what Tiggers do best.”

Myth: Children outgrow ADHD.

Fact: About 70% of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms throughout their teenage years and about 50% have symptoms in adulthood (Source: Health Wise).

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

Rabbit – organised, obsessed with rules and order, irritable if people mess up his garden.
Quote: “Messy? Messy? It’s ruined! It’s ruined” and “Oh dear, will you just… just look at my beautiful garden! … It’s ruined”.

Myth:OCD is all about cleanliness.

Fact: Yes, a fixation on keeping things clean is a common compulsion of OCD, but not the only one (and not everyone with OCD has it). Other common compulsions include hoarding items, checking and rechecking that you didn’t make a mistake, fearing something bad such as a fire or accident, and repeating routines such as going in and out of a door (Source: Everyday Health).

 

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