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Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It’s how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. It determines how we handle stress, relate to each other, and make choices.
Mental illnesses are health conditions that impact a person’s thoughts, emotions, relationships, and daily functioning. Commonly mental illness is related to trauma, distress, grief, or sadness. There is a wide variety of diagnoses with varying degrees of effects on certain areas of life.
According to the National Assocation on Mental Illness (NAMI):
• 20.6% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2019 (51.5 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.
• 5.2% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness in 2019 (13.1 million people). This represents 1 in 20 adults.
• 16.5% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (7.7 million people)
Mental illness does not discriminate and can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, income, social status, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or background.
There is not one particular known cause for mental illness. Research suggests a variety of causes including the following causes:
There are many warning signs and symptoms associated with mental illness. Here are some general red flags to watch and listen for:
• avoiding friends and family
• changes in eating or sleeping habits
• inability to complete daily responsibilites
• feeling tired and low energy
• extreme mood changes
• lengthy bouts of sadness or irritability
• excessive fear, worrying or anxiety
• strong feelings of anger
• confused thinking
• problems concentrating
• seeing or hearing things that are not really there
• increased drugs / alcohol use
• increased fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
• thoughts of suicide
In younger children:
• change in school performance
• frequent temper tantrums
• excessive worrying or anxiety
• hyperactive behavior
• frequent nightmares
• persistent disobedience and/or aggressive behavior
Different mental health diagnoses have different treatment plans- so it is critical to speak with a medical professional. An effective treatment plan may include medication, psychotherapy, and peer support groups- most people can get relief from their symptoms by taking part in this type of treatment plan. With careful monitoring and management of the disorder, it is still possible to live a full, productive life.
There are many different options for your mental healthcare. The best option is determined by each individual. It’s important that you find what works best for you. So options include:
• individual therapist
• support groups
• family therapy
• herbal supplements
• cannabis / CBD
• inpatient care
• rehabilitation treatment
• intensive outpaitnet programs
There are many types of mental health diagnoses. Here is a list of some of the most common conditions:
• Generalized Anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things.
• Bipolar disorders: Bipolar disorder is when someone experiences extreme mood swings with periods of low (depressed) and high (manic) moods.
• Major Depressive disorder is persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest that can interfere with your daily functioning.
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be diagnosed after a person experiences a tramatic event and then develops certain symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
• Schizophrenia affects how someone thinks, feels, and behaves such that a person feels out of touch with reality, has disorganized speech or behavior, and pulls away from daily activities.
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) is a federal law that requires the same health insurance coverage for mental health and/or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) conditions. As of 2014, Medicaid, most individual, and small group health insurance plans were required to cover mental health and substance use disorder services.
Absolutely- there are support groups for patients, their family members, and friends. Some support groups are led by a mental health professional while other’s are led by peers. Groups are often available online and in person, too.
Medication can play an important role in the treatment of many mental health disorders because they help manage symptoms. Be sure to speak with your prescribing doctor and therapist for more information.
This is a very common question, and a very confusing one for many people. Whether you believe the concern has been alievated, you’re concerned about side effects, or just don’t want to take your medication anymore- it’s best to talk with your prescribing doctor before you discontinue use. There may be a symptoms of withdrawal or other needs for a professional to monitor your care. A doctor can work with you to reduce these side effects and will create a plan for switching to a different treatment that will be a better fit.