Taking Measure of Your Mental Health
In light of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I would dedicate this week’s #WellbeingWednesday blog to give more information on the topic. We’ll discuss things that you can do if you or someone you love suffers from symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other diagnosis that effects quality of life.
Did you know. 1 in 5 Americans, nearly 44 million individuals, will suffer from a mental health issue within a given year? To make that a bit more personal, think about your family or a close group of friends. Chances are, 1 out of 5 of you have suffered or are suffering on some level. What’s more, depression is the number one cause of disability worldwide. I mention these stats to show that these disorders are not simply someone having a “bad day” or something that is “all in your head” but instead, they are VERY real, and can be very debilitating to individuals who suffer with them. It seems that often times there is a negative stigma associated with talking about mental health; perhaps we don’t want to burden anyone or we feel like no one will understand so we hold it in. If you or someone you love has ever felt this way, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
This is something that is very near and dear to my heart. While being close to loved ones who struggle with mental health issues has hopefully made me more empathetic, it is impossible to fully understand the depth of exactly what each person goes through. However, being aware of warning signs and becoming informed on steps to take to help you or your loved one find treatment could possibly save a life one day. Plus, there are a number of different treatment options and clinical professionals with varying approaches that can work to find the best plan of action for each individual. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is an organization devoted to providing facts, support, information on treatment, and ways to get involved with a cause surrounding mental health.
Below are possible warning signs to look out for via NAMI:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (headaches, stomach aches, vague, ongoing “aches/pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents)
If you do relate to any of the above symptoms or you know someone who does, here are some steps to take towards treatment, recovery, and a healthier, happier you:
- Exercise has been clinically shown to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as increase blood flow to the brain both during and after exercise, which can help with mental focus and alertness.
- Talk to someone; ask for help
- Email email@example.com to find out more about treatment and help through our company
- If you have a health coach, talk to them about how you are feeling. They can point you in the right direction for clinical help if needed.
- If you are in a life threatening situation please call the 24-hr National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. Your call will be routed to the crisis center near you. If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
– LAUREN ORMSBEE, CHC, CEP
Images via NAMI