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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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Heather Poole

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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