Friday, April 24, 2015

Seeds - Cucumber, climbing beans, Tea, Coffee and Mental Health

More seeds planted 
This time of year for anyone in the UK who likes growing things is a busy time - I'm a bit like the guy at the circus rotating plates on sticks.

As well as the regular crops I've decided to give a try to Tea and Coffee, the Tea is actually Camomile and the coffee undefined.

Much as the British explorers brought seeds from abroad in the Victorian age  modern gardeners are often not content to grow what they know our climate supports and push at the edges   - so I've also got a packet  of various Cactus seeds from when we holidayed in the Canary Islands recently.

The kit box
Soaking seeds
the pots with seeds

Oddly enough I saw a little bit of an old QI (on Dave) and pictures of what various drugs did to the brain were shown - one of the stimulants that had what looked like a worrying effect was coffee.

On the subject of the brain -I got a chance to revisit an area that interested me yesterday  (some time ago I went to talk at The Royal Society on research into the causes) I attended a presentation giving an overview of mental conditions.

One of the few things that Liberal Democrats might feel a little pride about is being part of the move to put mental health on the public agenda but to be able to take part in debate around this you need to know some of the terminology -  here's a little of what I picked up.

Mental health conditions appear to beon the rise in the UK, there are (of course) questions around this phenomenon, is it that we're now more keen to diagnose? Are we saying normal reactions to the rough and tumble of life  are 'Mental problems'? And do drug companies have a monetary interest in the medication that follows?

In the UK Mental Health is diagnosed according to ICD -10 which is broadly speaking a classification tool.


Schizophrenia is a serious condition which is accompanied by both Negative and Positive symptoms.
An example of the  positive symptoms include Thought Broadcasting.

Treatments - often Medication which has side effects that can require further medication - some medication gives patients Parkinson's disease like symptoms and severe weight gain.

Therapies - CBT is often used to help sufferers and is favoured by the NHS in the UK

Social - There are networks that support Hearing Voices Network is an example.

Bi-Polar Disorder - this has some high profile sufferers (Like Stephen Fry) and is associated with dramatic 'highs and lows' these include manic episodes where speech can become extremely fast and delusions are prevalent.

Treatments -Mood stabilisers are the favoured drugs.

Therapies -CBT again can be appropriate.

Social - there's support at BiPolar UK

Depression is probably the biggest mental health issue in the UK and many of us know of people who have this condition, it typically is accompanied by lower levels of activity, self-esteem issues and reduced concentration. Those with depression may have less of an appetite (for food) and can also have reduced sleep.

Treatments- drugs that are used are termed  anti-depressants.

Therapies -CBT and other three letter type acronyms abound here CAT, along with IPT and DIT are some of them.

Social - there are Health and Well-being centres around and the Depression Alliance 

Personality Disorder - is about how we function in the world Borderline Personality Disorder can be a difficult condition to manage it's associated with Emotional instability and sufferers often have a history of abuse and/or neglect.

The final area I will mention is

Anxiety and Panic Attacks -

Panic attacks - these can often be treated with CBT along with 'exposure therapy'  and  medication includes anxiolytics - simple measures like breathing adjustments  may bring some calm

Social - there's a group called Anxiety UK

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