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Amy Winehouse Mental Health
Drink, Drugs, Music & Early Death

What mental health issues did Amy Winehouse have?

As a counsellor and psychotherapist I'm often asked about Amy Winehouse's mental health issues.

The TV programme and film currently showing on Channel 4 , called "Amy", provides us with lots of suggestions as to what might have been going through Amy Winehouse's mind over the years.

"Amy" was an Oscar-winning documentary, released in 2015 by Asif Kapadia.

The programme suggests that Amy Winehouse was suffering from a wide range of mental disorders including depression, bulimia, alcoholism, drug addiction, self-harm, PTSD.

We believe that disorders like these are something the person instictively thinks and does, rather than something they have. This makes a very important difference for diagnosis and treatment.

How Old Was Amy Winehouse When She Died?

Amy Winehouse was 27 years old when she died.

Amy Winehouse was born in 14 September 1983.

Amy Winehouse was died in 23 July 2011.

What did Amy Winehouse die of?

It is widely reported that Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning.

While it is possible there were other complications, even potentially suicide, this has not been reported.

We do know that had time in rehab to deal with alcohol and drug addictions was publicly referred to as "being overworked".

Clinics such as the Priory have suggested that while treating Amy, they had identified her body was at greater risk due to previous alcohol and drug use.

It is little known fact that alcohol, including alcohol withdrawal, is a drug that is most likely to cause death.

Amy Winehouse MTV personal interview

In this interview, Amy briefly talks about issues relating to drugs and relationships.

Notice when her eyes look up, which can (given other signals and patterns we see in Amy) be a sign of holding back emotions.

Also, the conflicting message between "I live to go on stage" and "I'm most myself when I'm at home cooking for friends".

What caused Amy Winehouse's Mental health issues?

When working with clients we often find the presenting problem is often a symptom, and not the real cause of that problem. Conditions such as depression, bulimia, self-harm and addictions are often symptoms that have an underlying trigger.

The film, Amy, alludes to the facts that when Amy was very young, her father had an affair and her parents split up. While any significant event will affect people differently, it is possible that this created an underlying trauma within Amy's young mind.

All the mental health issues we look at here are likely to be caused by deeper parts of the brain - parts of the brain that are outside conscious control - trying to eliviate emotional pain. Unfortunately, while that part of the brain is great at helping with physical confrontation, using fight or flight mechanisms, it rarely finds good solutions for emotional difficulties.

Towards the end of the film, friends talk about Amy doing better, as she got back into her music, then getting worse again as she toured. This highlights different purposes people have in life. Amy's real reward was in creating music. Other people may have gained reward from the public recognition.

By repeatedly performing the same old tired songs on stage, Amy would have been creating deep emotional stressors that her brain countered with symptoms of mental illness.

Was Amy Winehouse Depressed?

Amy was diagnosed with depression at a young age and was given medication. However there is research suggesting that about 50% of cases of depression are wrongly diagnosed.

It is quite possible the Amy's environment was creating the symptoms of depression, rather than it being something that her brain had created.

An untreated traumatic memory may also have contributed to those symptoms.

It is possible that her symptoms would have also have been diagnosed (labelled) as bipolar disorder, given her energetic highs, which was previously known as manic depressive.

Was Amy Winehouse an alcoholic?

It is widely reported that Amy had difficulties with alcohol.

Drink can create a temporary relief from emotional pain and the instinctive part of the brain may have seen this as a solution.

Alcohol is the only drug that directly causes death during withdrawal, as the body can simply shut down.

Was Amy Winehouse a drug addict?

It is widely reported that Amy Winehouse used a wide variety of drugs beyond alcohol, including heroin and cocaine.

Part of this usage appears to be linked to husband Blake Fielder-Civil, with various suggestions of narcissistic behaviours, and Amy needing to participate in the drug taking in order to get the love of her husband. Not a healthy sign. A relationship issue like this might be traced back to her fathers affair when she was younger.

Was Amy Winehouse bulimic?

Various points in the film, Amy, suggest that Amy "suffered from" (did) bulimia as well.

Bulimia is often seen has a difficult cycle where people binge on food as their brain tries to physically satisfy an emotional need, then experience guilt and induce vommiting to counter the binge. It is self-harm on self-harm, with both the binge and purge actions creating a temporary blip of short lived relief from the brain's chemicals.

The famous cricketter, Freddie Flintoff also did Bulimia.

Did Amy Winehouse self harm?

Self-harm was referenced in a number of points through the Amy film, beyond the self harm from drug abuse and bulimia.

For example, she spoke about how she used to punch the wall, which yet another sign of the emotional brain looking for a release.

Later in film there was also suggestion of self harm link to her husband and expressed as a way of showing her love for him. This is not a sign of a healthy relationship.

It is possible that, at a very young age, her young emotional mind learnt that hurting herself was a way to get attention.

Amy the Movie

See the trailer for Amy the Movie here:

What was Amy Winehouse famous for doing?

Amy Winehouse was a world renowned singer songwriter, who is particularly influenced by jazz and soul music, with a voice and style that is often compared to greats like Ella Fitzgerald.

She had received many awards in the UK and America, and much positive recognition from famous musicians such as Tony Bennett.

What songs was Amy Winehouse famous for?

And "Tears dry on their own..."

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