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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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