Mental Health Awareness Week 2019
October is the month for many different types of health awareness holidays such as breast cancer, healthy lung month, Down Syndrome and Mental Health Awareness Week 2019. The general social rule for talking about mental health disorders to anyone is to only present the facts and to be very sensitive to others’ feelings and thoughts. We are going to try that same approach to eliminate the stigma that unfortunately exists around mental health. With this awareness week, we are actively seeking to explain exactly what mood disorders and mental illnesses are the most common in the population, and to alleviate the fear of individuals having these issues. Continue reading to learn more about mental health issues and how we can all work together to eliminate the stigma.
What is a Mental Illness or a Mood Disorder?
In the last few decades, most of the psychological disorders have been understood as a mental illness. Some of these are now referred to as a mood disorder, which is a different classification. Overall, a mental illness or mood disorder stems from both our environment and the way our brains have developed. Some people who have mood disorders may underproduce or produce too much of a hormone that makes their brain function a little differently than someone who does not have a mood disorder. Also, it is important to remember that people who have mental illness and mood disorders are products of their environment. They may either have a family history of mental health issues, or have suffered from trauma, or a type of life-changing event that has shaped the way they act. Below are a few of the most common mental illnesses and mood disorders.
What is Depression?
Depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the United States and in the world. Depression is when the brain does not produce enough serotonin – the feel-good hormone that the body releases that makes us feel safe and content. People with depression may not be easily noticed. They can be pretty good at hiding their emotions. Depression manifests in different ways. Individuals with depression can either feel restless or exhausted, stressed out, feelings of worthlessness, and like they don’t matter. Most depressive cases are treated by anti-depressants, or through cognitive behavior therapy. The severe thing to notice in individuals are the warning signs for suicidal behaviors. These include suicidal ideations, talking about death and dying, giving away possessions, or selling their property. If you think that you or someone you may know is suicidal, please call 1-800-273-8255, this is the national suicide prevention hotline number. It is important to know that there is always someone listening and that life is worth living.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Being from the northeast, Seasonal Affective Disorder is one of the most common issues that plague us from about September to April. The shortening of sunlight exposure and vitamin D deficiency leaves most people feeling tired and slightly depressed. People may also feel agitated, irritated, and sluggish during the colder months. Some people have remedied this through buying a happy lamp, or a white light machine that mimics the effects of sunlight. Please talk to your doctor if you have more questions about SAD, and please read why you are more sleepy in the winter.
What is General Anxiety and Panic Disorder?
General anxiety is when people often feel worrisome, and feel like they can not control their actions. This is different than OCD like tendencies in which people may try to perform rituals or patterns in the hopes that they can control their present and future. People with anxiety may feel uncomfortable or weird when in public, or even by themselves. Their anxiety can manifest in insomnia, general uneasiness, intestinal issues, feelings of nausea, or feeling dizzy. Some people who have severe anxiety may also have panic disorder. This is when they get a panic attack when they think about a certain situation that gives them an exorbitant amount of anxiety. Panic attacks do not all look the same, and vary from person to person. One person’s heart rate may climb, and they may be completely silent while they feel that their mind is going a mile a minute. Another person may have a more physical attack in which they start pacing, running, having the adrenaline fill their body. They may also start hyperventilating, screaming, or trying to hurt themselves. While it may seem like a good idea to try to stop the panic attack, they usually do not last longer than 15 minutes and will eventually subside. If the person feels like they are going to die, that is normal, but perhaps it may be best to bring them to an emergency room for further evaluation. Anxiety is incredibly common.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a complicated disorder. There are many different things that can be identified as schizophrenic tendencies. The major symptoms of people with schizophrenia tend to be the removal of once close relationships, bouts of paranoia, believing people to be dangerous when they are not, withdrawal, faulty perceptions or imagining things that aren’t actually there. Most people with schizophrenia actually end up homeless because they can not follow most of society’s rules. Treatment for schizophrenia can be in the form of medicine such as antipsychotics.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder used to be called manic depressive disorder. People who have bipolar disorder often go through major shifts of severe feelings. They may feel elated for some time and then dive back to feeling worthless. They can have a lot of energy, and they also may engage in risky behaviors. Sometimes, when people with bipolar disorder are at the height of their feelings and know they are slipping back down, this is when they are most likely to commit suicide. People with bipolar disorder are encouraged to try medication and routinely attend therapy.
There are many people who suffer from eating disorders. People who have these often feel like they are not in control of their life, so they need to control their feelings through what they put into their bodies. Some are afraid of gaining weight due to societal pressures, and some punish their bodies for eating. For those that overeat, they just have a poor connection with food usually based on traumatic experiences. Eating disorders are highly treatable and if you think you may have one, please make an appointment with a therapist. The warning signs are people who may spend too much time in the bathroom after eating – anorexia nervosa and bulimia, or bulimia when people are hoarding snacks in their room in secret. There is actually a relatively new eating disorder called Orthorexia. This is described as someone who only eats what they believe to be clean foods, and over exercises.
Celebrities with a Mental Illness
There are many celebrities who have a mental illness or a disorder. About 1 in 4 people will have a mental health issue at some point in their life, so it is incredibly common.
- Jim Carey – Depression
- Kendall Jenner – Anxiety
- Howie Mandel – OCD
- Paula Deen – Agoraphobia & Panic Disorder
- Dennis Quaid – Anorexia
- Lena Dunham – OCD, Depression, Anxiety
- Lady Gaga – PTSD
- Elton John – Bulimia
- Miley Cyrus – Depression
- Demi Lovato – Bipolar Disorder
- Cara Delevinge – Depression
- Janet Jackson – Binge Eating
- John Nash – Schizophrenia
- Emma Stone – Panic Disorder
- Adele – Depression
- Nicki Minaj – Depression
Ways to Mitigate Stressors that Can Trigger Episodes
It has been known for a while that there is a large connection to the amount of stress that we carry and the likelihood that an episode will act up. There are many things that people can do to mitigate their stress and the likelihood that they will trigger their disorder. The following are ideas that have been proven to reduce stress and make people’s moods slightly improve.
- Make sure to get a full night’s rest and to not overwork yourself
- Avoid burnout, stop doing so many things at once and pulling yourself in different directions
- Make time for yourself and to do the hobbies and activities that make you the happiest
- Spend time with friends and family
- Take the time to exercise and eat well – your body will feel much better and this will have a positive impact on your mood
- Try to be positive and to remove any negativity from your life
- Start to see a therapist to get on a weekly or biweekly agenda to give some routine to your schedule
- Perhaps research for a support group of people online or in-person who may also be suffering from the same mood disorder or illness
- Perhaps do your own light research on what your triggers are, and knowing how to identify and stop them from affecting you
- Maybe you can invest in getting a therapy animal
After reading this article do you feel as though you are better versed in mental health awareness? Is there a disorder or illness that you either have some experience dealing with or treating? Are there any tips that we missed on our post? Is there another topic that you think we should write a blog article about? Comment below!