Author Topic: Caving and mental health  (Read 9403 times)

Offline droid

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #25 on: February 12, 2015, 04:35:15 am »
A panic attack is (to me) acute anxiety.

I guess everyone has things that make them anxious in the short term: exams, job interviews and the like, but suffering anxiety permanently, in a diffuse way, is rather different. It can be focussed on a certain situation: job troubles, relationship problems, health etc but not neccessarily. The transition from anxiety state to depression is vague. Doctors sometimes classify mild depression as an anxiety state. And depression itself takes on many guises, even in the same individual.

Talk to people that suffer these conditions. There are more of us than you may realise.
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Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #26 on: February 12, 2015, 11:31:34 am »
I have no medical training but your explanation has all the hallmarks of being logically correct - certainly, I can see that acute anxiety could trigger a panic attack.

I am still struggling to see how depression could be classed as anxiety but, there again, I am not a doctor and have no issue with it.

Still sticking with Gus's original question - I  still wouldn't allow either case to prejudice the decision to take such a person underground.

I also think that, by asking, the person is suggesting (by implication) that they do not believe going underground is going to heighten their anxiety (regardless of whether that proves to be right or wrong).

Thank you for the explanation  :)

Ian
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Offline droid

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #27 on: February 12, 2015, 08:14:24 pm »
Trouble is, Ian, depression or anxiety states are very personal. Each person suffers differently. It is rather like Autism: now referred to as Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Think of it as a Spectrum and you won't gio far wrong.

As for going underground with it, some of the most active/talented underground people I know suffer the condition.
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Offline nearlywhite

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2015, 12:05:51 pm »
I recommend reading about generalised anxiety disorder Ian, it's not hard to see how you can develop or more accurately classify as being depressed.

I suppose the OP had the situation of you being told by someone other than the person with the mental health illness. What it all comes down to is are they a danger to themselves or others? And who has to make that call? As most people on here won't be qualified to make that assessment, you've got to trust other people's judgement. As one of my friends put it 'I find it hard to trust people I've not been underground with'. You see another side to people, one that's a bit more real, health difficulties aside.

I've stopped perfectly fit and healthy people going on trips I didn't think they could handle it, I think most cavers are fairly understanding about the issue

Offline 2xw

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2015, 12:24:14 pm »
Quote
I'm actually going for an interview today for a support worker role for people with learning difficulties. I think caving or just walking in the countryside would help them. I know I feel less stressed when up the Peak than at home.

Not just from a calmness point of view, but also from a sensory perspective. Drips of water, echoes, lights playing around, waterfalls, sounds of gurgling water a cool draft, all feel great. Especially great for ASD etc. Thoroughly recommend you take them caving. White Scar show cave are very accommodating and reasonably wheelchair accessible (as long as you don't have those wheelchairs with mountain bike tires), and if they're a bit more ambulant there's loads in the peak.  :thumbsup:

In response to original question, I'd feel comfortable with taking someone with any number of mental health issues underground (with depression and GAD related stuff probably a total non-issue in that respect).

I'd probably consider the cave itself the limiting factor, rather than the mental health issue. Would I take a person who has ADHD down the 3 counties system? No, I'd take them up Great Douk in lowish water. With so much great caving in the UK I think the trip can be tailored to a the person rather than the person suited to the cave.

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #30 on: February 13, 2015, 12:38:14 pm »
Ross,

Thanks for your explanation and the suggestion – I know you are in the medical profession and obviously have a greater insight.

I think we (all) might be moving away from (or too deep into) the OPs original question ?

To follow your line and Droids line – how far should a caver go in making an assessment of their caving compatriots ?  Do you take a cursory view? Ask a few questions? Ask others for their thoughts? Ask for a detailed questionnaire? Or leave it to someone else ?  (Both the extremes and some in-betweens).

You have raised another issue and that is the safety of others which has not been addressed in any detail by any other postees.  Of course, I think we (probably) all consider our own safety in the presence of “others” (ie. are any of the others going to put “you” in danger) and we make a judgement call on our abilities and tolerance to that potential issue.

Possibly we also consider whether a party member might be a danger to other party members but I don’t know if there is any line in the sand that can be used as a marker.

Should we feel it incumbent on ourselves to police this ?  Should this be in the hands of the “leader” (if there is one) ?  Should you intervene if you believe the “leader” is in error ?  etc. etc.

How far does your own “thought process” have to go before you decide to arbitrarily prevent someone from participating on the same trip ?

I think it is a tough question and I think we probably each have many different views.

I also don’t think we should lose sight of the fact that this is a recreational activity and we are not bound by the same rules commercial ventures are.

Still, regardless of “depression” or “anxiety”, I would still discount both if asked by a sufferer to take them on a trip for the reasons I have already outlined and would be happy to take them unless there was a patent reason not to (and have done so).

 :)

Ian
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Offline 2xw

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #31 on: February 13, 2015, 01:32:21 pm »
I'll remember to get my DClinPsych before taking anyone on a trip.
If it doesn't affect the trip, it's non of our business to be informed. Especially, as you say, is recreation and not bound by commercial obligations.

Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #32 on: February 13, 2015, 01:57:22 pm »
I would treat everyone in much the same way - as another caver, unless there was a compelling reason to do otherwise, and only if someone better qualified than me or the person themselves suggested it.

Offline royfellows

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #33 on: February 13, 2015, 02:45:24 pm »
I wasn't really going to post anything here but now feel I aught.
I think if a person freely admits that they have a problem then they are half way towards solving it. The experience of going underground in my opinion can be very therapeutic, taking a persons mind off personal problems etc.
The person to beware of is the person who has a problem but cannot see this.
I am unfortunately talking from personal experience.

Case in mind a person who for some reason if given an instruction, even something safety related, has an irresistible compulsion to do exactly the opposite or something different.

Just be careful.
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Offline bagpuss

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #34 on: February 13, 2015, 04:47:39 pm »
Wouldn't have a problem taking someone, I guess as with any disability you might ask how it effects them and judge which cave you'd begin with based on that. People have different triggers for their anxiety and it may come in handy to know what they are.

For me personally I am probably least socially anxious when caving, it's much easier for me than going to the pub or a gig (I still get the fear in the Hunters!). I think it also helps caving with a good group of understanding people who are patient whatever people's issues are. If I'm really low I simply don't go caving, if I do manage to go it makes me feel much better.

Offline droid

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #35 on: February 13, 2015, 08:49:22 pm »
Just to put some perspective on this: I've been on mine trips where out of the 6 participents, 3 were on medication for depression/anxiety.

It was one of the most entertaining, funny and outrageous trips ever.  :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Offline nearlywhite

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #36 on: February 14, 2015, 11:10:38 am »
I would treat everyone in much the same way - as another caver, unless there was a compelling reason to do otherwise, and only if someone better qualified than me or the person themselves suggested it.

Nail on the had, and my answer to your questions Ian, thanks Peter!(although I'd drop the only). I suspect we're all singing from the same hymn sheet here.

As for making assessments... We often take someone we don't know on a trial trip or ask for a caving reference from a mutual friend. It depends on the seriousness of the trip. We already police this when we see it, I've stopped 2 trips from going ahead and had the same happen to me. You don't stick your oar in without good reason. It comes from a good place and stops unnecessary rescues.

I can see how this is a pre judicial process, and underlying attitudes undoubtedly influence these decisions, however I suspect that being too fat/too thin/too tall etc makes the big impact. Because mental health is often invisible it is often ignored, sometimes to someone's benefit. The research is going to have to dig deeper to find those prejudices, they're not going to come out now that they don't seem to be in line with the caving chattering classes. I hope I haven't derailed the topic... perhaps a guiding post by the OP is in order?

Offline pwhole

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #37 on: April 20, 2021, 09:22:46 am »

Offline Graigwen

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #38 on: April 20, 2021, 06:52:05 pm »
This may be of interest as an update to this thread:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/apr/20/psychedelics-depression-treatment-psychiatry-psilocybin

My daughter is currently doing a Masters in Neuroscience and Psychology and shares some of her study material with me. One consistent feature is that many drugs humans put into themselves, whether recreational or medicinal, have bad effects. On the whole recent research suggests psychedelic drugs do less harm, and psilocybin in particular seems to have positive rather then negative effects. I found this a surprise, but no doubt it will be welcomed by the cavers of New Inn near Pontypool.

.

Offline tamarmole

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #39 on: April 20, 2021, 07:59:57 pm »
This may be of interest as an update to this thread:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/apr/20/psychedelics-depression-treatment-psychiatry-psilocybin

My daughter is currently doing a Masters in Neuroscience and Psychology and shares some of her study material with me. One consistent feature is that many drugs humans put into themselves, whether recreational or medicinal, have bad effects. On the whole recent research suggests psychedelic drugs do less harm, and psilocybin in particular seems to have positive rather then negative effects. I found this a surprise, but no doubt it will be welcomed by the cavers of New Inn near Pontypool.

.

Problem with psychedelics such as psilocybyn is that you are rewiring your brain without a wiring diagram. 

Offline pwhole

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #40 on: April 20, 2021, 09:18:53 pm »
There's plenty of good manuals out there though. Granted it's mostly working from the inside out, but a good therapist/guide should be able to assist with re-orientation for folks who want to do it as safely as possible, as most people will have never gone near anything like that. The main appeal from where I'm standing is that it may only need to be done once or twice and that's it, rather than an endless script of chemical subduers, often for life. It seems that one of the main benefits can be the 'realisation' of the depression as separate, and thus provide a path for removing it.

One of my friends used to be a psychiatric nurse at what remained of Middlewood Mental Asylum in Sheffield twenty-something years ago, when it was a more enlightened rehabilitation centre, and he was working on studies of depression across the city as part of his PhD, and the amount spent on prescriptions daily was staggering. Prozac was still under patent at the time and I think it was £1.05 per capsule, per day, per person, and there were something like 50,000 prescriptions active in the city, on a minimum six-week course - but with no maximum, obviously. Every city in Britain was running it the same way. I would guess that there are no less today, and probably a lot more. Granted Prozac is now just plain old fluoxetine, but there's plenty more in patent they'd rather we tried. After all, if you make antidepressants, who wants to kill the market?

Offline JasonC

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #41 on: April 20, 2021, 09:28:42 pm »

Problem with psychedelics such as psilocybyn is that you are rewiring your brain without a wiring diagram.

Life is rewiring your brain all the time, for good or ill

Offline tamarmole

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #42 on: April 20, 2021, 09:35:16 pm »

Problem with psychedelics such as psilocybyn is that you are rewiring your brain without a wiring diagram.

Life is rewiring your brain all the time, for good or ill

True to a degree, but taking psychedelics can be like trying to fix a watch with a sledgehammer!  Having seen one or two people come a cropper with psychedelics (mainly LSD) I am not convinced the risk is worth it.

Offline pwhole

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #43 on: April 20, 2021, 11:57:28 pm »
I think therein lies the problem up until now - it's always been recreational, unsupervised use, often by people who really shouldn't be doing it - or at least in an unsupervised way! Hopefully as the stigma is reduced, more controls and more focus can be given to this sort of work, and then folks will actually feel the benefits rather than the downsides, and want to do it in a more useful fashion. I've seen a few friends come a cropper too, but it was only temporary and they climbed out of it and are still around. Again, the point with the depression treatment is that done carefully, it may only take one or two sessions, with follow-up support where required, but that's hugely cheaper than the current methods, and hopefully a 'cure' for some, rather than merely mitigation for life.

It's re-programming, for sure, but the brain is a very complex computer, to some degree accessible at processor-level by the user, and not of all its code is read-only. I used to have a terrible problem with blushing when I was a teenager, not always caused by embarrassment, probably just hormonal, but once my friends noticed it they could make me blush merely by pointing out that I did it, which was embarrassment as I knew they were doing it to hurt me. That took years to get over but it was a conscious decision I made to stop doing it, as I knew I could get to it 'in there'.

It's difficult to describe how, but then coding is ;)

Offline pwhole

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #44 on: April 28, 2021, 05:01:01 pm »
It's all kicking off in that there psychedelics/mental health research this week, with further news that there finally be a 'non-hallucinogenic' compound that might work. I can't help thinking that the 'hallucinogenic' bit is the crucial factor, but I'm prepared to give them a chance for now:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/apr/28/non-hallucinogenic-psychedelics-scientists-close-in-on-compound

Online Speleofish

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #45 on: April 28, 2021, 06:14:25 pm »
Blushing, as a self-conscious adolescent, is miserable. I spent what seemed to be half my school hours imitating a lighthouse whenever there were girls around (my school had girls in the sixth form only) to the amusement of most of my classmates. Their ambition became to make me blush continuously for an entire double biology lesson. Unfortunately, they succeeded, and I remember it in painful detail (which is also why I remember more about various aspect of newts than I will ever need to know).

I still blush easily but am less self conscious about it. The 'cure' was spending my gap year working in the local hospital. There were very few young men and apparently infinite numbers of young women. To survive, I had either to blush less frequently, care less when I did so and accept that people could find such things amusing without being malicious. 

Offline pwhole

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #46 on: April 28, 2021, 08:18:00 pm »
Well I too found that increasing my quota of young women and decreasing that of young men helped with the blushing, no doubt about that. Helped with everything, frankly.

Offline thehungrytroglobite

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #47 on: April 30, 2021, 02:37:32 am »
I suffer from borderline personality disorder / complex PTSD, which involves anxiety and / or low mood as part of the symptoms, however I have never had any issues caving at all. In fact I find caving extremely therapeutic.

I can in fact think of several benefits that people with mental health difficulties may have in a cave: such as greater awareness of ourselves, great resilience, stronger empathy and understanding for other members of the group, etc.

If I need help I will ask for it, but I've never seen my illness as a barrier to any of the sports I do.
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Offline pwhole

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #48 on: May 19, 2021, 09:39:45 pm »
There's a great documentary on BBC2 right now about psychedelics and their use in treatment for depression:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000w7bq


Offline Keris82

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #49 on: May 20, 2021, 06:40:27 am »
Caving has certainly helped me. This past year of being effectively imprisoned in my own home has had a detrimental effect on my mental health. I suffer from both anxiety and depression at times and getting back to some form of normality and being able to cave again and make future plans recently has really helped me and my partner.

 

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