What comes to mind when you think about mental health? Do you have positive thoughts or negative thoughts? Do you think about yourself or others? Are you well informed? Do certain disorders pop into your head? There are dominant mental illnesses that have detrimental effects in people’s lives across the world. A healthy mental state is one of the most important things you can have. Mental health affects how you feel, think, and act.
In such a fast paced society and a world that’s ever-changing, it’s often easy to overlook, to remain oblivious, and to lack understanding. We focus on the external rather than the internal. We as a society stigmatize and judge… but why? We shouldn’t. In fact, in the US, approximately 1 in 5 adults experiences mental illness in a given year.
Recently, a special light and awareness has been brought to mental health because of the numerous celebrity suicides that have taken place. I’ve seen an influx of statuses updated, articles written, and images posted. Death always brings up strong emotions and I’ve noticed a deep sadness in people all over the world. On top of sadness, I see shock. I see people not really understanding why, which is totally understandable. I’m not sure if we’ll ever be able to figure out the real reasons behind it all. I do know that mental illnesses and disorders exist and they need to be talked about.
We all know how touchy of a subject this can be, and that’s for good reason. When I first sat down to write this article, I immediately knew the importance of sticking to facts and doing my best to stray away from opinion. Scrolling through social media, it seems like everyone in today’s society thinks they are a licensed therapist or psychologist and opinions are running rampant. I’m not so sure they should be.
The main point of this article is to simply do my part in spreading awareness. In the news, various media outlets and in my personal life, I see mental illnesses affecting so many people around me and I felt the need to speak up. In this article, I’ve decided to solely focus on major mental illnesses and disorders that most of us are familiar with, or at least we think we are. It raises the question, “do we really know much about mental health”? Doing the research, I’ve learned a lot.
Which Mental Illnesses Affect Americans the Most?
I’ve decided to begin talking about depression, being that it one of the most common and widely known mental disorders. Major depressive disorder affects approximately 6.7 percent of the US population age 18 and older, in a given year. Yes, depression is a disorder and it is one that can cripple the quality of one’s life in a concerning way. It can make a person fall out of love with the things they were once most interested in. Affecting the way we think, feel, and act in any given situation, depression can cause someone to have a sense of hopelessness.
When we first think of depression, we think of overwhelming sadness, but it’s important to know that depression can be much more than that. Some of the common symptoms caused by depression can be:
- Trouble getting out of bed
- Disrupted eating patterns
- Disrupted sleeping patterns
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Anxiety is another illness with an umbrella of disorders under it that affect the majority of the population. It is one of the most common disorders, affecting adults more than any other mental illness. In fact, it affects 40 million adults 18 years and older every year in the US. This disorder causes fear, worry, and stress.
Yes, we all have these feelings from time to time, however with anxiety, this is a heightened and persistent state of the mind. It can truly affect the productiveness in someone’s life by hindering all capabilities of being able to function ‘normally’. It disallows people to go somewhere or to be involved with something due to the fact they have an over-rationalized fear of things going terribly wrong. Some different forms of anxiety can be presented as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), social anxiety, and panic attacks.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is another very common disorder that affects approximately 2.6 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older every year. It causes one to have constant changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. This is a serious mental brain illness. It can cause a person to act without rash decision making due to their extreme manic state or extreme depressive state.
A manic state can be noticed by someone acting more energetic than usual. Someone in a manic state can show signs of extreme happiness with an increased state of activity levels. A manic state can be followed by a depressive state- this usually consists of someone feeling very down, depressed, or empty. Someone in a depressive state has a lot less energy and seems like they don’t enjoy anything.
What Can We Do About It?
Although only three mental disorders were mentioned in this article, there are so many more. These facts bring to light that there are so many people affected by mental illnesses on a daily basis. If you are someone struggling, it’s important to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. If you know someone struggling with mental illness, reach out. If you are someone that doesn’t really understand mental illness, learn; you never know who you can positively impact just by educating yourself. We never really know what’s going on in someone else’s life.
The good news is that mental disorders can be treated. I want to stress the importance of seeking professional help and not getting caught up in opinions or false information. Perception is key; don’t be fooled by social media and people pretending they have it all together. A little trust in the right hands can go a long way.
Reminder: If you haven’t already, tell someone you love them.