May is Mental Health Awareness Month and everyone is talking about it, but is mental health as big of a problem as it seems?
Mental health awareness is key to solving the epidemic.
Epidemic may seem like a dramatic term, but mental health isn’t something that’s “just in your head.” It’s a widespread problem that needs to be considered as seriously as any other health crisis. Almost half of adults (46.4 percent) in the United States have experienced mental illness during their lifetime.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
In the U.S. at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder.
Mental disorders and issues come in all shapes and sizes and affect people of all ages. Over the last ten years the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has classified over 150 mental disorders.
Though mental issues are as serious as physical ailments, they often go unnoticed until they cause major problems in a person’s life.
In addition to these diagnosable disorders, we all encounter stress every day. Life events can cause periods of depression. There is no way to avoid things that affect our mood and mental state. Mental health is something we should keep track of just like we do our physical health.
WHY IS MENTAL ILLNESS SO PREVALENT?
There is not one reason for mental illness. It can be caused by varying factors including trauma, genetics, and poor health habits. Trauma is a significant one that affects people starting at a young age.
Bessel A. van der Kolk, an expert on trauma and it’s effects, explains, “Discussions of PTSD still tend to focus on recently returned soldiers, victims of terrorist bombings, or survivors of terrible accidents. But trauma remains a much larger public health issue, arguably the greatest threat to our national well-being.”
In the U.S. 70% of adults have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives. At any given time, about 8% of Americans, or 24.4 million people, have PTSD.
PTSD leads to other issues like severe anxiety and depression.
Prevention has to start at a young age. By raising children who know how to manage stress, we will have more well-adjusted adults. “My goal is to get rid of self-help in the adult world by raising kids…so that they’re healthy, successful adults,” says Carol Tuttle, best-selling author and teacher.
Not having the tools to manage stress and grief cause bigger health problems. Bessel A. van der Kolk emphasizes, “Child abuse and neglect is the single most preventable cause of mental illness, the single most common cause of drug and alcohol abuse, and a significant contributor to leading causes of death such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and suicide.”
Mental health and physical health are connected.
You may already know that physical health, such as eating the right foods, can decrease your chances of mental health problems. However, the inverse is true, that stress can be a significant contributor in weight fluctuation, even if you are otherwise healthy.
Depression causes lethargy, increase and loss of appetite, and insomnia.
People with PTSD and anxiety are more likely to experience physical health problems including:
- Heart-related problems and disease
- Respiratory system-related problems and disease
- Digestive problems and disease
- Reproductive system-related problems
Even everyday stress causes a multitude of symptoms such as:
- Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
- Gritting, grinding teeth
- Muscle tightness
- Body aches
- Tremors, trembling
- Faintness, dizziness
- Frequent blushing, sweating
- Cold or sweaty hands and feet
- Dry mouth, problems swallowing
- Frequent colds and infections
- Rashes, itching, hives
- Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain, palpitations, rapid pulse
- Increased or decreased appetite
You cannot disconnect mental health from physical health. These widespread mental health issues are having an effect on physical health. Decreasing stress can prevent long-term physical health problems and lead to fewer trips to the hospital.
What can we do?
Now is the time to prioritize mental health in your life. For severe cases please seek the help of a professional and other treatment as necessary. There are a variety of therapy options in addition to traditional talk therapy, keep searching until you find a good match for you.
Prevention is key and managing your day-to-day stressors can help prevent bigger issues down the road. It can be as simple as taking a deep breath to help relieve stress in the moment. However, lifetime results will come from developing daily habits and a healthy outlook on life. Just like we have to eat healthy food every day, we have to nourish our mental health every day.
We want to help you manage your mental health and embrace your emotional chi with small and simple practices that can have a lasting effect. If you struggle with mental health issues on any level, congratulate yourself for making it this far and know you’re not alone. Too many adults and children are struggling with illnesses that are hard to see but greatly impact everyday life.
At Lakanto we are committed to helping people be healthy and believe that physical, mental, and spiritual health is connected. To join us on the journey of discovering our chi and increasing mental health awareness and mindfulness click here. SHARESHARE ON FACEBOOK