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Many of Us Suffer from Mental Disorders but Most Choose to Ignore Them

Many of Us Suffer from Mental Disorders but Most Choose to Ignore Them

As time goes on, discussing mental health and the disorders so many of us face has become less and less taboo. With shows like ’13 Reasons Why,’ we seem to all be open to discussion suicide and bullying far more often than we would have just a few years ago.

But the ability to discuss it more freely does not mean mental health is improving. In fact, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental health, and as many as 6.9% of adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode last year. Of these, only about 41% of adults in the U.S. received mental health services during that time.[1] But why? It seems like media is more willing to talk about things like bipolar disorder and depression, but despite it being all around us, many are choosing to just ignore their problems.

Mental health matters and we should face it.

We’ve all seen the commercials about depression. The scene usually involves an attractive young/middle-aged woman lying on her couch or longingly staring out the window. We hear the voice-over comment on how living with depression can make you feel like a prisoner. You don’t want to engage with your friends or family anymore. In fact, you sometimes don’t even want to get out of bed. For some people, that commercial is an accurate representation of their life. But for others, their depression may not look that way. In fact, they may only feel sad or mildly moody a few times a week. To them, that’s their normal. Perhaps that’s why it can be difficult to know you should seek help.

Unfortunately, choosing to do nothing, or failing to recognize you need to do something at all, can have heartbreaking consequences. More than 90% of children who commit suicide were living with untreated mental health issues. More so, those living with mental illness are more likely to develop chronic medical conditions and even die 25 years earlier than others.

While it can sometimes feel embarrassing to seek help for something you may not truly understand, it is never embarrassing to want to help yourself and be healthy. So if you’re thinking you may have a problem, know you aren’t along, and know what to look for.

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There are different types of mental health disorders we might be experiencing.

There are numerous types of mental health disorders. The following lists out the most common ones and summarizes what they are:[2]

1. Social or general anxiety disorders

People who suffer from these disorders respond to situations with fear and panic attacks. For anxiety sufferers, something as normal as walking out their front door can lead to complete fear and an emotional breakdown. This disorder affects about 1.5% of the U.S. population of those aged 18 and up.[3]

2. Depression, bipolar and cyclothymic

These are classified as mood disorders, and they typically involve intense feelings of sadness or periods of being super happy followed by being super sad. While anyone undergoing stress can experience mood swings, those with diagnosed mood disorders tend to fluctuate more frequently and intensely. Mood disorders affect almost 10% of the U.S. adult population.[4]

3. Psychotic episodes such as hallucinations and delusions

Psychotic disorders involve distorted awareness. People who live with psychotic disorders often see things or hear things that are not real. Schizophrenia is a common example of a psychotic episode. 4% of the U.S. adult population has been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.

4. Anorexia, binge eating and bulimia

While many young girls (and some boys) may think eating disorders are a phase everyone goes through, that’s not the case. Extreme emotions and attitudes toward your weight or the things you eat/don’t eat are actually examples of an eating disorder that should not be ignored or accepted. Don’t be embarrassed to talk to someone and get help. Eating disorders affect about 30 million people of all ages and genders in the U.S.[5]

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5. Pyromania, kleptomania and other impulse disorders

As the name suggests, impulse disorder sufferers are unable to ignore their impulses. It is common for people with impulse problems to lose sight of things that are important, such as responsibilities and relationships. These disorders affect 10.5% of the American population of men and women.[6]

6. Alcoholism and drug addiction

This addiction disorder goes hand-in-hand with impulse disorders, as those who struggle with alcoholism and drugs are unable to deny their craving for things they shouldn’t abuse. This heartbreaking disorder affects over 13% of the U.S. population.[7]

7. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Movies and books can sometimes make OCD look funny or endearing depending on the habit of the person exhibiting the behavior. In reality, those with OCD can live challenging lives, as small tasks like turning a door knob can turn into long and complicated rituals. Those living with OCD experience constant thoughts and fears known as obsessions. Those obsessions lead the person to perform rituals, or compulsions. About 2.3% of the population (ages 18-54) suffer from OCD.[8]

8. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a heart-breaking condition which is common in veterans and victims of crime such as assault. People with PTSD often have lifetime fears and memories and can have problems dealing with their emotions. This disorder affects 8% of Americans.

It’s not a shame to seek help if anyone has mental disorders.

Mental disorders are not new to us but not everyone knows how to cope with them. Like every other physical illness, mental disorders should be treated. If you find yourself or your friend having any symptoms of mental disorders, it’s better to get help as soon as possible.

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How to get help for a friend or a loved one: be understanding.

Some of you may be reading about these disorders and, instead of recognizing yourself, you find yourself thinking of a friend. If you feel you know someone who may have a mental health disorder, there are steps to take to ensure you are respectful in reaching out.

First of all, don’t try to play psychologist. Even if you mean well, trying to “fix” your friend, or offering advice can sometimes make things worse. It is most important to listen. Be very patient and don’t expect anything to be resolved immediately. If you are afraid to start the conversation for fear you will say the wrong thing, Help Guide.org offers conversation starters and sample questions to aid you in being a helpful friend.

Perhaps most importantly, never downplay what they are feeling. Even if the frustration you feel is with yourself because you don’t feel helpful, don’t ever tell someone struggling with something like depression to “snap out of it” or that “it’s all in your head.”

If you feel conversations with your friend or loved one are going well, encourage them to reach out to a physician they trust. You can even offer to accompany them on their first visit. The first step is being able to tell a professional they feel upset or “just not right.”

How to get help for yourself: talk about it.

Even if you know you want to get help, finding that assistance can still feel overwhelming. MentalHealth.gov offers suicide prevention hotlines, treatment referral helplines and more. If you’ve already talked to your physician about how you feel and what you want to do about it, great! If not, what’s holding you back from taking that first step?

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You don’t ever need to feel embarrassed about your mental health. Remember there are people who want to help you and will do whatever it takes to give you that help in the way that’s right for you. Start by talking to your family doctor. In some cases, she/he will be able to prescribe something or recommend someone to talk to. If not, they can refer you to a specialist for more in-depth help.

Check in often to see if everything’s okay.

If you or your friend have gotten help and even started talking to a therapist or taking a specific medication, consistently check in with how you’re feeling. Remember that medicine doesn’t always get it right the first time. Be aware of side-effects and reach out to someone you trust before hand to look out for any negative changes in your attitude or strange behaviors. It can sometimes be necessary to change prescriptions one or more times before finding what works best for you and your body. And that’s okay!

Mental Health America has a list of what to look for in adults, adolescents and children that may indicate you or your loved one should speak to a medical or mental health professional.

Take care of yourself for yourself.

Sometimes mental health disorders can trick you into believing you’re a burden to your family or friends. Remember that voice is a liar and you are so worthy and loved. Mental illness affects nearly 44 million people; you are not alone.

Get help because you deserve it. You deserve to be happy, healthy and energetic for many, many years to come.

Featured photo credit: The Miracle Forest via 1.bp.blogspot.com

Reference

[1] NAMI: Mental Health By the Numbers
[2] WebMD: Types of Mental Illness
[3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Facts & Statistics
[4] Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: Mood Disorder Statistics
[5] ANAD: Eating Disorder Statistics
[6] Psych Central: Mental Health Statistics
[7] Psych Central: Mental Health Statistics
[8] Understanding OCD: Some OCD Facts & Figures

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

Reference

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