Understanding and Managing Mental Health

Understanding and Managing Mental Health

 The State of Mental Health America 2018 report from Mental Health America shows that 18% of adults in the US have a mental health condition. In case you’re beginning to say, “Well, at least the number is under 20%,” let’s quickly compute that. We’re talking about at least 43 million people. See how that figure can be a problem?

Chances are you and I know someone with a mental health condition. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re aware they’re unwell. Maybe they don’t know it either. A lot of mental health patients are not even aware they have a problem because their symptoms aren’t as obvious and severe as those of someone who is openly mentally unstable.

Yet, mental health is very important because it affects how we feel, think and behave, how we interact with others, the choices we make, how we handle difficult situations, and whether we’re productive or not. It’s a crucial component of our overall wellness.

More Facts about Mental Health in US Society

  • Of the people with a mental health condition, almost 50% also have a substance abuse disorder.
  • 6 million people with mental illness have suicidal tendencies.
  • Suicide is the 10th major cause of deaths. More than 40,000 people commit suicide each year.
  • 56% of those with mental illnesses do not receive medical attention.
  • 1 in 5 Americans has an unmet need.
  • 7% of young people have no access to mental health care through private insurance.
  • Severe depression in youth stands at 8.9%, up from 5.2% a year ago.
  • More than 1.7 million youth with major depressive episodes do not receive treatment.
  • There is a shortage of mental health care professionals. Currently, the ratio is 1 health professional for every 1,260 mental health patients, compared to 2.9 doctors per 1000 patients for physicians.

What Causes Mental Disorder?

Mental disorders are caused by a range of factors, broadly categorized into:

  • Family history of mental health problems
  • Biological causes
  • Life experiences

What are the Common Types of Mental Disorders?

Mental illness presents in many forms, some more severe than others, but all have the same debilitating psychological effect. We explain the different disorders below.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders cause one to be fearful or dread certain situations or things. They are usually in the form of panic disorder and phobias.

Panic disorder is characterized by panic attacks, which is an overwhelming feeling of terror. People under a panic attack may feel dizzy, have trouble breathing, experience chest pains and a rapid heartbeat. The person usually lives in a perpetual state of fear, scared about when and where the next panic attack would strike.

Phobias have to do with an unfoundedfear of things that pose no harm. Patients with phobia cope by avoiding the things they’re fearful of. When they cannot avoid the situation or object and have to face it, they’re suddenly overtaken by panic, their heartbeat increases, they may begin trembling, have shortness of breath, and strongly desire and try to getaway.

Anxiety disorders are treated using medications and therapy to help the person recognize the thought patterns that lead to panic and learn how to control/change them.

Mood disorders

Also known as affective disorders, mood disorders cause a person to oscillate between periods of extreme happiness and extreme sadness. The person may also harbor feelings of sadness all the time.

They lose interest in things that are important, for example, they may stop bothering with hygiene or taking care of their children. Or lose interest in things they once enjoyed, like certain hobbies.

The most common mood disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, self-harm, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Behavioral disorders

Behavior disorders are diagnosed in children from an early age. They are characterized by disruptive behaviors that last six months or more. Behavioral disorders lead to conflict at home, school, and in the community.

Some of the behavior involves hyperactivity, impulsive actions, defiance, inattention, drug use, and criminal tendencies.

Common behavioral disorders include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

Eating disorders

Eating disorders occur in people with strong attitudes, feelings, and behavior towards food and weight. They include bulimia, binge eating, and anorexia nervosa.

A person binge eating will overeat all through the day and can easily consume up to 15,000 at a go.

Bulimia involves a person secretly overeating high-calorie foods and afterwards purging through intense exercise, forced vomiting, or enemas/diuretics/laxatives.

A person with anorexia nervosa fears gaining weight and will do anything to maintain a body weight that’s unhealthy. It may be hormonal, genetic, or influenced by social perceptions and expectations.

Personality disorders

Personality disorders lead to feelings, behavioral and thinking patterns that interfere with a person’s day to day life and cause conflict in different social interactions.

Common personality disorders include Borderline Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Psychotic disorders

People with psychotic disorder lose touch with reality and often experience delusions and/or hallucinations. These disorders can happen independently or in people suffering from other conditions like bipolar disorder, brain tumors, and dementia. The most common psychotic disorder is schizophrenia.

Other disorders

Other common mental disorders are substance abuse disorders, stress-related disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and suicide disorders.

Mental health in children and youth

Mental illnesses are not something only young adults and older people struggle with. Children too are affected by mental disorders, either due to biological reasons like other illnesses, genes or physical injuries, their family could have a history of mental illnesses, or they could have undergone a traumatic experience.

Doctors can diagnose mental instability in young children from an early age. It’s important that you avail the medical care your child or teenager needs if you notice any symptoms that may indicate mental disorder.

Most importantly, your love, support and understanding will help them overcome the mental challenge and lead normal lives. With the right intervention, they’re more likely to achieve desired educational goals and less likely to join crime.

Treatment and Management

Mental disorders can be successfully treatment using a combination of medications and therapies. With treatment and deliberate efforts at the home front to boost their social and emotional wellbeing, persons with mental illnesses can improve, and except in special cases, can recover fully and lead normal lives.

There are plenty of benefits tied to this. For instance, there are decreased healthcare costs in the long term.

  • The person becomes more productive.
  • They contribute to building of the economy.
  • They enjoy a better family life.
  • They enjoy a better quality of life.
  • They have a higher lifespan.

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