October 10 marks World Mental Health Day, an opportunity for people everywhere to discuss mental and behavioral health. Just like exercising and eating right can help you maintain balanced physical health, performing daily self-checks on your mental health can help you maintain a more balanced life. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and they can even influence each other. With 42.5 million American adults suffering from a mental illness each year, it’s more important than ever to have open communication about one of the most misunderstood aspects of our health.
Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are some of the most common mental health issues that people of all ages can face. When left untreated, these and other disorders can escalate to dangerous behaviors and contribute to or exacerbate issues like addiction and thoughts of suicide.
If you are struggling with any signs of mental illness or co-occurring mental and substance use disorders, it’s important to reach out for help, whether it be from family members, a medical professional, or a helpline.
Mental health doesn’t have to be stigmatized. Together, we can break down barriers and have candid conversations about the importance of this issue. By making mental health as commonly understood as a cold of the flu, we can better identify and treat minor issues before they escalate to life-threatening situations.
1. Sharing Your Story
If you’ve felt the confining grips of depression or struggled to communicate with a cashier at the grocery store because of extreme anxiety, you’re not alone. It’s important that others know that they aren’t alone either. By discussing your own struggles, be they past or present, others can understand how relevant their experiences and challenges are. Mental health can feel deceptively isolating. But when more people speak up on social media, in person, and in popular culture, more people are able to recognize the normalcy of their emotions, fears and trials. Knowing that others have faced the same challenges can create a springboard for others struggling with mental health.
2. Knowing the Signs
Mental illness presents itself in many different forms. Talking about past or current mental illness is important, but so is discussing the signs and symptoms. When you and those around you know what to look for and can have an open dialogue about experiences and changes in behavior, you are more likely to identify an issue before it gets out of hand.
Signs of Mental Health Disorders
While every situation is different, there are some common changes and signs of mental illness, including:
- Abnormal mood swings
- Detachment from reality
- Changes in sex drive
- Suicidal thoughts
- Increased irritability
- Changes in energy level (excessive tiredness or difficulty sleeping)
- Anger and hostility
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Withdrawal from people and activities that normally bring joy
- Stark changes in diet or daily routine
3. Get at the Heart of It
Once you or someone you love has identified a mental health struggle, treatment is the next important step. There is a difference between knowing that you’re struggling with PTSD and actively seeking help. Seeing a doctor or therapist, or working on at-home methods of wellness like journaling and reflective medication can all help you manage your mental health. Many mental illnesses or disorders are a result of traumatic life events or experiences. By identifying and uncovering the root of these issues, you can work toward renewed health.
Mental illness and wellbeing don’t have to be topics reserved for World Mental Health Day. Mental health is a huge part of everyday life for people from every background. By starting a conversation today, you could change or even save a life. If you or someone you know is struggling with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders, call 352.771.2700 today to learn more about treatment options and lifelong strategies for healing.