Mental health is everyone’s business and plays a big role in our ability to function in everyday life. Emotions such as sadness, anxiety, anger, and fear are normal and healthy emotions to experience, but if they cause you significant distress in your daily life, then you may need to do more to help it process and heal.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s talk about the importance of mental health awareness, how to spot if you are struggling, and what you can do to take care of your mental health concerns.
Two of the main mental health concerns commonly reported in adults in the United States are anxiety and depression.
If I were to ask a room full of people to raise their hands if they’ve experienced either of these emotional experiences within the past year, most people in the room would raise their hands. In fact, one in five adults in the U.S. experience symptoms from a diagnosable mental illness in a given year, and for youth aged 6-17, one in six experience a mental health disorder each year. That’s a lot of people. Yet, it’s common to feel alone when experiencing distressing symptoms from mental illness due to the stigma related to sharing about these concerns, so know that you are not alone.
Anxiety is an old friend of mine. It has come and gone through out my life in varying degrees of intensity and frequency. And since I’ve done more work in meditation, IFS, somatic experiencing, and nutrition, I now look at my anxiety as a protector rather than an enemy.
Anxiety is a common emotion everyone will experience at some point in their life. But if it becomes overwhelming to the point that you are unable to do daily activities such as completing work responsibilities, sleeping, spending time with friends and family, being in public spaces, etc. then it might be time to do more.
If you have persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are non-threatening, along with one of more of the following symptoms, please consider contacting a mental health professional to get more help in addressing these concerns.
Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety:
Feelings of apprehension or dread Feeling tense or jumpy Restlessness or irritability Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath Sweating, tremors, and twitches Headaches, fatigue, and insomnia Upset stomach, frequent urination or diarrhea
Depression is more than just feeling sad, it can lead to someone feeling hopeless, helpless, and stuck. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), more than 19 million US adults, that’s nearly 8% of the population, had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. According to NAMI, depression does not have a single cause, it can be triggered by a life crisis, physical illness, or something else, but it can also occur spontaneously.
Scientists believe several factors can contribute to depression: Trauma, genetics, life circumstances, brain changes, other medical conditions, and drug and alcohol misuse. Below you will see common symptoms of depression. If you relate to any of the items listed below, please know that you are not alone, and that it could be beneficial to contact a mental health professional for additional care.
Common Symptoms of Depression
Change in sleep Changes in appetite Lack of concentration Loss of energy Lack of interest in activities Hopelessness or helplessness Changes in movement (less activity) Physical aches and pains Suicidal thoughts
A common worry people have regarding seeking help for mental health is where they can find a provider in their area who specializes in their main areas of concern.
A silver lining of the pandemic has been the widespread support and offerings of telehealth appointments from mental health professionals. Telehealth appointments are convenient and easy to navigate as long as you have access to a computer or phone that has a camera, microphone, and internet connection.
One very convenient resource to find therapists who specialize in your areas of concern and who are located in your area is through the link, PsychologyToday.com. Here you will see therapists who fit your criteria for filters such as cost, concerns, specialties, and interests.
Better Help and Talk Space are also telehealth companies providing convenient access to mental health care.
Whatever you choose to do, just know that you are not alone. With support from friends, family, and mental health professionals, you are more likely to succeed in addressing your mental health concerns.
You got this!