Are Mental Health And Emotional Health The Same?

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The Mind’s Bag Of Tricks

Mental health and emotional health are interrelated: one can have mental health problems and emotional problems or emotional problems but no mental health problems. Generally, one cannot have mental health problems and not also have emotional problems; any mental conflict is sure to strike some emotional differences in a person. This is the mind’s bag of tricks at work!

While it’s easier to understand why a person with mental health problems most likely has emotional problems as well, how can a person with emotional problems not have mental health problems? Because we experience emotions every single day; they make up our personality.

But this does not mean that we have a mental health problem just because we are experiencing different emotions as often as every 2 minutes. Emotions are natural and expected. Sure, one can experience emotional dysregulation, but that’s when it has become pathological, involving mental health in the mix.

Generally, mental health and emotional health go together like peanut butter and jelly. But many times, you can enjoy the jelly (emotional health) without the nuts (mental health). The reason why they go together so well is because emotions originate from our mind. Your personality is determined by your mind, and your mind is determined by your genetic makeup and environmental influences.

Separating the two is permissible, but it’s easier to just understand that mental health and emotional health are interrelated. For instance, you may not have an official psychiatric diagnosis, but have been feeling sad for the last 5 days in a row. This emotion of sadness is part of your mental health in a way: sadness alters your perception of yourself, others around you and your environment.

If you continue to remain sad for another 9-10 days or so, with other symptoms in the mix, you may develop what is called major depressive disorder. So what started out as a natural emotion known as sadness, can eventually progress to a major psychiatric condition within as little as 2 weeks!

While the mind does not actually have a bag of tricks, this expression is meant for you to understand the intricacies of the human mind; a very complex and mysterious organ of the human body. What happens in the depths of our mind is often unknown to us. If we are dealing with such a big unknown, can you imagine how many possibilities there are for our mental and emotional health to go astray?

Let’s not dive deeper than we have to.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Reading Body Language

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Mental Health And Body Language

If you take away anything from this article, it’s that body language speaks louder than words. Especially during childhood and adolescence, words and expressions often have a much greater impact on communication than body language does. But reading body language can be mastered even at a young age, such as when girls attempt to show boys that they are not interested in them.

As one ages and matures, body language starts to become more obvious in everyday interactions. But believe it or not, many people don’t master reading body language because they don’t pay attention to it: it either doesn’t come naturally for them or they continue to make the same mistake of carelessly ignoring it.

Reading body language will divulge much more valuable and honest information about one’s character than the words coming out of their mouth. Why is that? Because body language is controlled by the unconscious mind, while words are specifically chosen in the moment.

No one deliberately controls their body language: “I’m going to cross my legs now in order to show someone that I have patience.” Body movements happen on an unconscious level and can be utilized to your advantage to learn more about someone’s character. Think of it like a cheat code: you can abstract information about how someone thinks and feels without even hearing them speak!

Except that it’s not a cheat code: it’s reality. Mental health also comes into play regarding body language. In behavioral health, this is called someone’s “affect”: how you perceive their body language in regards to their mood. One may state that their mood is “depressed” and their affect may by congruent: slouched position, sad face, maybe even tears.

Utilize body language to interpret your family members’ and friends’ mental health. If their posture and the way that they carry themselves is not mood-congruent, then you know that something is up with their mental health. An even more effective tool to add to your social toolbox is listening more than talking, while observing one’s body language!

If you can effectively listen and observe one’s body language without talking too much, you are setting yourself up nicely for understanding one’s character. Always remember that body language speaks louder than words. If you can master reading body language, you will increase your emotional intelligence and prosper in the realm of socialization.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Understanding Depression

Depressed and isolated woman sitting on black chair in front of glass-panel window with white curtains

Carefully Listening To A Patient’s Story

Depression and anxiety are mental conditions that can occur unexpectedly. There is no typical presentation or initial signs and symptoms that proceed depression or anxiety. Understanding depression is very important for clinicians, family and friends, because it helps to understand where one is coming from and what factors played a role behind the development of one’s symptoms.

When we think of depression, we often relate it to something bad going on with the person, such as job loss, lack of friends, a failed marriage or substance abuse. But someone who develops depression does not necessarily have something going wrong with them. Often times, it’s members of their family who are suffering in some way, causing them to develop depression as a result.

For instance, a patient may have children who are suffering in some way or a spouse who is not supportive financially or as a parent. Many parents struggle when their children develop a mental illness, are born with a developmental disorder, are defiant and not doing well in school or simply leave “the nest” and go on to attend college. In these cases, it’s not unusual for a parent to develop adjustment disorder or major depressive disorder.

Some patients complain that their spouses are not financially supportive, “all he does is sit at home! I’ve told him countless times to get a job! This situation makes me so sad.” Marital problems are very common and oftentimes the cause behind the development of depression. It’s important to always listen very carefully to every detail provided by a patient.

Overall, understanding depression involves understanding a person’s story and their perspective on reality. Oftentimes, their stress and depressive symptoms have altered their perception on reality for the worse. During these cases, psychodynamic psychotherapy can prove to be an effective treatment, allowing the patient to unveil their unconscious conflicts.

Even if you’re not a clinician, you always want to listen attentively and attempt to understand depression based on what a person shares with you. Do not be interruptive or intrusive; listening often goes a long way in the treatment process.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Patience With Autistic Children

Mother hugging autistic boy on her lap

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism is a developmental disorder of variable severity characterized by difficulty in social interactions and communication, and restricted or repetitive patterns of thought or behavior. Many autistic children are incredibly gifted in terms of intelligence, while others struggle academically and/or socially. Patience with autistic children is a must, whether you are a clinician, parent, family member, teacher or friend.

Patience is key because autistic children are not used to interacting with others at the level that society considers appropriate for age. These children may desire friends and companionships, but do not have the strength, courage or sometimes even interest to initiate conversations; making friends often proves to be a challenging task.

Autistic children may also be socially awkward: they may randomly start talking about a topic that is completely irrelevant to the conversation at hand. For instance, a psychiatrist may be encouraging an autistic patient to make school as fun as possible, and the patient will randomly ask, “Doctor, how tall are you?”

Autistic children may also ask questions in class to which the answers are obvious. For instance, a teacher may take away points from disruptive children, and suddenly an autistic child who was not being disruptive will raise his hand and ask, “Did I lose points too?”

Autistic children are also typically involved in repetitive thoughts or behaviors regarding a topic of their interest. For instance, a child may be fascinated with Pokemon and will only focus on his Pokemon cards, and conversations revolving around this subject. When other children attempt to engage the child in different activities or conversations, he or she may find it difficult to connect, resulting in an awkward experience or even bullying.

Many autistic children recognize that they are different, but are happy just the way they are. And the truth is that they are different and special just the way they are! We should not be mourning autistic children because of their differences. Rather, we need to embrace their differences, respect their ways, maintain patience and guide them if they require it.

We are all special in many different ways. What separates us is not our differences, but our lack of desire to appreciate our differences. That is why as a community, DSM can help eliminate the stigma and hatred surrounding mental disorders, substance abuse and anything else that is causing people to shy away in the background.

Together we can.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Emotional Burden

Silhouette photography of man in front of window in dark room

Experiencing Multiple Emotions At Once

There are times when you experience multiple powerful emotions at once, and you can’t seem to identify the reason why; an emotional burden at its finest. While not particularly pleasant, there are learning points that can be abstracted after you weather the storm. But sometimes the learning points can become buried in the rubble, if the storm is not handled properly.

An emotional burden can happen for no apparent reason. We are usually so bombarded with stressful factors, unpredictable outcomes and even annoying relationships, that one small trigger can unleash hell. When this happens, you suddenly may experience anger, sadness, emptiness, uncertainty, dysphoria, but even moments of happiness and clarity.

You read it right: dysphoria and happiness in the same bag. How is that even possible is what you’re probably thinking. The reasoning behind this phenomenon is that you’re probably so stressed from unresolved mental conflicts, that your negative emotions linger on in situations that normally make you happy.

Normally, negative emotions should be processed fairly quickly, leading to a seamless recovery. But when they continue to linger on, you may not always be aware of their presence, until another trigger comes along, intensifying them more than usual. Or you could be confronted with good news, and rather than a nice wave of clear happiness, it becomes mixed with a feeling of displeasure.

An emotional burden must be handled with ease, because you don’t want to bury yourself even deeper. These situations are often distracting from your work and relationships, attempting to set you off course; they have the potential to do so! The way you handle them is with gentle and careful processing.

Don’t fight the emotional burden. Rather, recognize that the negative emotions are there and accept their presence. View the emotional burden as an injury: you cannot heal the injury overnight; it takes time for it to heal properly. The same applies with your emotional burden: give it time to swirl in your consciousness before it slowly dissipates.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Losing Your Mind On Cannabis

Margarita glass with cannabis leaf decor

Cannabis Edibles

While cannabis smoking is controllable, edibles can take you on an entire different plane. Smoking cannabis is convenient because you get to decide when to stop, based on how high you are. Cannabis edibles are very difficult to titrate and that is one main reason why many people show up to the ER in states that have legalized it. Losing your mind on cannabis is real and it can happen to you!

The biggest mistake that people make with cannabis edibles is impatience: they believe that it must not be working because they are still sober an hour later. So what they do is indulge in more edibles hoping to increase the effect. But what happens is that by the second or third hour after the first ingestion, the cannabis finally starts to kick in.

At this point, you might wrongfully believe that it’s the second edible that kicked in, when in fact, the second edible is still in the process of being absorbed by your digestive tract. So now you have a ticking time bomb cruising through your digestive track. At this point, your mind is slowly being altered by the THC from the first edible.

The difference between smoking and eating an edible is that the effect of the edible takes longer to kick in, and the high is more spread out, as opposed to smoking which is a “quick on, quick off.” But going back to the mistake mentioned above, two hours later, the second edible starts to kick on top of your ongoing high.

This is what is meant by a “recipe for disaster.” Not only do you have too much marijuana in your system, you are now juggling two superimposed highs. You are praying for the first one to end, and as soon as you sense a coming down from the high, the second edible takes you back up, like a never-ending rollercoaster ride.

One of the worst experiences under a high dose of marijuana is the feeling of losing your mind. It’s like you don’t know anymore which mindset is in touch with reality: your perception of reality has been divided into two. One mindset is your normal one that is buried under the intense high, and the other is the intense high which is sitting on top of your normal state of mind, preventing it from reaching the surface.

At this point, you either don’t fight the feeling and accept the notion that you may very well have lost your mind, or you keep wrestling the feeling, hoping that you step back into reality. Both scenarios are extremely uncomfortable: accepting the possibility that you have lost your mind puts you in a state of panic.

You start to feel your heart racing as if you’re about to have a terrible panic attack. So now you try to fight this uncomfortable panicky feeling, on top of the dooming mindset that has swarmed your consciousness. On the other hand, you can continue fighting the high by refusing to believe that you have lost your mind.

The second option is miserable as well because you cannot do anything but keep fighting the high, hoping that it will soon come to an end. Except that it doesn’t, because the marijuana high from two edibles may last up to 4-10 hours. At a certain point, it’s just better to close your eyes and try to fall asleep. Keep in mind that you may wake up from sleep and still be cruising in space; the high doesn’t end just because you went to sleep.

Overall, the lesson that should be learned here is that if you want to indulge in marijuana, do so by consuming a small dose of an edible and allowing 2-3 hours to see if the effects will kick in. Do not eat a large dose or rush into eating a second dose prematurely. Losing your mind on cannabis is a real phenomena that you want to absolutely avoid at all times.

Safety, sanity and happiness always come first.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Anticipatory Anxiety

Worried brunette woman wearing pink pants with finger in mouth

Worrying About The Future

Anticipatory anxiety is a symptom commonly found in a number of anxiety related conditions, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); however, you may have anticipatory anxiety and not be suffering from GAD. Anticipatory anxiety is when you are experiencing increased levels of anxiety by thinking about an event or situation in the future.

The experience is not that unpleasant that it interrupts your day like a panic attack would, but it can be stressful and bothersome in the long-run. For instance, you may be starting a new job in a couple of months or flying overseas for a nicely earned vacation. Anticipatory anxiety is when you are constantly worrying about these future events, even though there is no particularly good reason to be worried.

It usually occurs every day, but it doesn’t have to. In general, the anxious thoughts are replays of scenarios in regards to the future events: “What if I won’t be good enough for the job? Everyone will laugh!”, “What if the plane will crash and I will die? My family will suffer forever!” The anxious thoughts have you thinking of different scenarios that may play out in the future.

They generally make you worry about future events; these worries may last a few minutes at a time or longer. The way to deal with anticipatory anxiety is to tell yourself to stop worrying about what tomorrow will bring, and to focus on how you can better yourself today. It’s all about controlling your thoughts: instead of dwelling on the anxious ones and making them stronger, just ignore them when they do come into your mind.

Ignoring anxious thoughts is not that hard, unless you are suffering from a panic attack, but it takes practice! In the case of anticipatory anxiety, ignoring these thoughts is about making a change in your personality: no longer worrying about what will happen tomorrow. If you can adopt this change in mindset, you will feel much better about your future job, flight overseas or whatever it is that is coming your way in the future.

Not worrying about tomorrow is not the same as not planning for the future. You still want to visualize your future goals and set out to accomplish them, but you don’t want to worry about the process or the results. The process will be dealt with when the time arrives, and the results will be determined when the process will come to an end.

In the meantime, focus on bettering yourself today. Take a few deep breaths while you perform mindfulness, and soak in everything there is about the present moment; exhale away your anticipatory anxiety.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Blunted On SSRIs

Grayscale photography of man experiencing emotional blunting from SSRIs

Emotional Blunting

SSRIs work great for major depression and anxiety. They increase serotonin in the synaptic clefts between neurons in the brain, alleviating the symptoms of depression and anxiety over time. They take about 4-8 weeks to start working, but in addition to psychotherapy, your symptoms can be alleviated even quicker. But being blunted on SSRIs is something to watch out for!

While not a notable side effect that everyone experiences while on an SSRI, emotional blunting can definitely be noticeable when it does happen. You don’t feel it right away however; it may take months or maybe even a year until you start noticing it. That’s because you don’t really expect it, and it’s not a common symptom that physicians inform their patients of, even though we really should!

It’ll become fairly obvious when you start catching onto the symptoms of emotional blunting. You will feel that you no longer get so excited or sad in situations that would normally make you fully experience those emotions. Rather, you feel dull or emotionally blunted: being less able to laugh or cry when appropriate to do so.

It’s not a terrible feeling, but it can be if you are a really vibrant person who is usually upbeat and full of emotions. Dropping down a few notches of excitement can make you feel like you’re not being yourself anymore. Sure, your depression or anxiety has gone away, but now you’re left with numb-like emotions.

The options that you have is to either talk to your physician and ask to go down on your dose of SSRI, continue the medication without making any adjustments, or completely stopping the medication. Again, you always want to work with your physician regarding these matters! Never go about doing medication adjustments on your own. And keep in mind, that the downside of stopping an antidepressant is that your depression or anxiety can potentially come back.

But potentially is the keyword: many are able to defeat depression and anxiety after a successful trial on an SSRI. Once the SSRI is stopped, the emotional blunting diminishes and you return back to your old self; the good self! So definitely ask your physician about emotional blunting before being started on an SSRI.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Negative Thoughts

Brunette white woman experiencing negative thoughts with hands on head

Hurt By Mindfulness

You’d be lying to yourself if you came out and said that you never experience negative thoughts. We all experience negative thoughts much more frequently than positive ones. That’s part of the reason why the human race is so evil at times: there are many who do not know how to control their negative thoughts and end up acting on them.

Negative thoughts have to be constantly dealt with if you want to maintain a proper state of mind. In a way, you have to learn how to coexist with negative thoughts, but not in a destructive manner that will hurt you or others around you. There are two types of ways in which our mind deals with negative thoughts: repression and suppression.

Repression is the unconscious act of placing your negative thoughts into your unconscious mind and not having access to them. For instance, this can occur when you have experienced a traumatic or uncomfortable event: your mind disposes the negative thoughts from your conscious awareness.

Suppression is when you purposely decide to bury negative thoughts into your unconscious mind. For instance, you just broke up with your boyfriend and want to move on, so you intentionally stop thinking about him in order to make the recovery easier. There is nothing wrong with repression and suppression, as long as they’re not unresolved conflicts.

Unresolved mental conflicts should not be disposed to your unconscious vault without first processing them appropriately. If you do bury them without processing them, they will only come out in the future with a stronger effect, causing you to experience a possible breakdown.

One way of properly processing negative thoughts is through mindfulness: the act of being nonjudgmental to any thought that comes your way. But with practice, you will realize that you are going to become exposed to a lot of baggage stemming from your unconscious mind, especially when you gain more stamina and can perform mindfulness for a longer duration.

You can essentially be “hurt by mindfulness” because of the powerful negative thoughts that are resurfacing into your conscious awareness. But do not allow this process to discourage you from practicing mindfulness. In actuality, the resurfacing of negative thoughts is healthy for you, because it gives you the opportunity to develop resilience towards negativity.

And the more resilient that you become as a person, the stronger your character becomes towards experiencing negativity or any potential mental health problem.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Schizophrenia and the Evolution of the Human Brain β€” Dr. Elliott Gruen β€” HeartyPsych

An experienced psychiatrist, Dr. Elliot Gruen currently practices in Maine. Dr. Elliot Gruen draws on experience with a range of psychiatric conditions, including an in-depth familiarity with schizophrenia and its development. Schizophrenia is a complex mental illness that affects approximately 1 percent of the population. It causes abnormal activity in many different areas of […] viaΒ […]

Schizophrenia and the Evolution of the Human Brain β€” Dr. Elliott Gruen β€” HeartyPsych