Are Mental Health Issues On The Rise?

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The Recognition Of Mental Health Problems

It cannot be said that mental health issues are on the rise. That would be like saying that mental health issues were not as prevalent in the past as compared to present day. How can that be? Mental health issues were present from the beginning of time: they were just not recognized and addressed as much as they are now. What is on the rise is the recognition of mental health problems.

What is happening is that the stigma of mental health is slowly crumbling, resulting in more people feeling comfortable reporting their troubles and concerns. More people are seeking help, making it look like mental health issues are on the rise. And even if depression, anxiety and other disorders are on the rise, their increase is probably very small compared to the rise in recognition of mental health problems.

Many children in the United States are currently experiencing suicidal ideation and completion much more than previous decades. So it can be naturally concluded that if suicide rates are increasing, that depression must be increasing as well. After all, depression is a huge contributing factor behind suicide completion.

What is also increasing is the awareness of mental health problems. The media is also reporting more often on this topic and celebrities are coming out to admit to their struggles with mental illness. This is very good for the entire world, because awareness is what is going to motivate more people to come out and talk about their mental health concerns.

Education about mental health is also increasing. High schools, universities and post-graduate programs are starting to provide more resources centered around mental health for students. Society is starting to realize that education is key in order to prevent people from suffering in the shadows. Many people lack an education about mental health, causing them to bury their symptoms out of fear of ridicule and shame.

Overall, the stigma of mental health is slowly starting to vanish, and the awareness and education about mental health is on the rise. What we need to continue doing is spreading as much recognition, validation and awareness about mental health problems: we cannot allow people to fall behind in the trenches.

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Can Mental Health Stop You From Working?

Women with mental illness laying down and covering eyes with hands

When Holding A Job Becomes A Challenge

Depending on the mental illness at hand, working can become difficult if the symptoms are not properly controlled. Many people suffer from very common illnesses such as depression and anxiety, and continue to work through them every day. But holding a job with uncontrolled depression or anxiety is not wise and definitely not recommended. In other words, mental health can stop you from working!

The job that you hold does not really matter, because poor mental health can become a huge distractor while on any job, even if the job is not very mentally or physically demanding. Imagine going to work and experiencing auditory hallucinations of voices in your head, while you’re trying to type up a word document or talk to clients.

Holding a job while suffering from an untreated mental illness is like working two jobs at the same time: your normal one and the second one being the illness in your mind. The problem is that the second job is not rewarding and most likely very emotionally and mentally painful.

When you are experiencing an unmanaged mental illness while on the job, there is absolutely no way that you can be performing at your highest level. If it’s anxiety, you become distracted by your nervousness, worries or even panic. If it’s depression, you are constantly distracted by your negative thoughts, low drive and poor self-esteem.

If it’s PTSD, you are distracted by your potential flashbacks of the traumatic experience in your past. If it’s OCD, you are bombarded with mental obsessions and compulsions which you have to perform in order to alleviate your obsessions. If it’s social phobia, you are constantly worrying about being judged or ridiculed on the job.

As you can see, mental health can stop you from working, because eventually your coworkers, clients or patients will notice that something is off about you. And when you start noticing that they are noticing your odd behavior and poor mental health, it makes you even more uncomfortable and insecure, further decreasing your performance on the spot.

That’s why it’s so important to talk to someone about your mental health problems. Never keep them to yourself and certainly never allow them to escalate to the point of robbing you of your job. Do not underestimate the power of mental illness: it can appear in a flash and last longer than you’d ever imagine.

If you are dealing with something, seek treatment right away! Talk to a psychiatrist and start a medication if you have to. It’s better to take medication and recover from your mental illness, then not take anything and allow your mental illness to bring you down.

As always, feel free to share your stories on The DSM Ready platform!

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Why Is Depression More Common In Females?

Depressed blonde woman leaning against brown wooden wall

The Gender That Is More Depressed

While depression is more common in females, it’s important to note that depression happens quite commonly in males as well. There are many factors that predispose women to developing depression: hormonal changes during puberty, premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy, giving birth, perimenopause, life circumstances and culture and other psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders and drug abuse.

Hormonal changes during puberty as well as emerging sexuality are reasons for why females experience depression during this time period. It is thought that estrogen and progesterone are the hormones that disrupt the function of serotonin in the brain, resulting in depressive feelings. In addition, their emerging sexuality, interest in partying, identification with peers, mood swings and conflicts with parents are reasons behind their depressive experiences.

Females who experience premenstrual syndrome struggle with abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, irritability and anxiety. These symptoms are obviously distracting from everyday life, increasing their chances of feeling depressed. In addition, some women progress to develop premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a disabling depressive experience that may interfere with their studies, work and relationships.

Depression during pregnancy can occur due to many reasons: a lack of social support, lifestyle changes, unplanned pregnancies, stopping use of antidepressants, previous episodes of depression, etc. Pregnancy can be a very big stressor for many women, easily leading to depressive symptoms when inadequate support is an issue.

While about 60% of women experience the postpartum blues, about 15% also develop postpartum depression. The responsibility of taking care of a child, hormonal changes, previous episodes of postpartum depression, infant complications and poor social support are some of the reasons behind developing postpartum depression.

Perimenopause or the transition to menopause may cause depression in some women. This may be due to interrupted sleep, history of anxiety or depression and hormonal changes. For some women, just the idea of entering “menopause” may be shocking to them: the realization of “aging” can be quite hard on some women.

Lastly, life circumstances and culture can also lead to higher rates of depression in females. Many women tend to work and maintain responsibility at home, such as taking care of the children and the house. And while the divorce rate remains elevated, many women may be experiencing single parenthood, having to work a job and take care of a child at the same time.

Because women are more likely than men to experience sexual abuse, they’re also more likely to experience depression as a result. In addition, unequal power and status is still a major concern around the world for many women, resulting in a lower self-esteem, feelings of negativity and a sense of lack of control, all increasing the chance for the development of depression.

As men, we need to become more supportive of women overall. They are the ones who tend to be more nurturing than us, take care of our children, cook and clean the house and maintain a job to make ends meet. They also have to experience fluctuating hormones, resulting in mood changes, stress and irritability.

Let’s come together and help all the women in the world. Together we can.

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Can Mental Health Issues Be Prevented?

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Avoiding The Mind’s Obstacles

Mental health issues can certainly be prevented with the proper care since childhood. But it is important to keep in mind that many people are genetically predisposed to developing a mental illness. It’s based on the two-hit hypothesis: the first hit are the faulty genes and the second hit is an environmental stressor that makes your mind go overboard, resulting in the development of an illness.

Genetic predisposition towards developing a mental illness is not uncommon, because genes spread from older generations onto newer ones. But even with the genes present, it doesn’t mean that you will necessarily develop the illness that your grandmother or mother had. It depends on how impactful the faulty genes are and what kind of environment you are raised in.

The environment is just as important as your genetic makeup. For instance, a teenager may be genetically predisposed to developing schizophrenia. At 16, he also starts smoking marijuana on a consistent basis: this may very well be the tipping point into schizophrenic territory.

The same may apply with depression, anxiety and many others. That’s why it’s very important to minimize the stressors in your life and maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as adopting a good diet and consistent exercise routine. These things aren’t stressed just for the sake of maintaining your physical health; mental health is just as important.

Everyday stressors add up and can really affect your mental health over time. That’s why it’s important to incorporate healthy outlets in your life such as mindfulness, exercise, healthy relationships and a good sleep hygiene. These methods of relaxation help you to prevent the development of a mental illness; especially depression and anxiety.

Unfortunately, there are times in peoples’ lives when preventing a mental illness becomes extremely difficult. This applies to people who have experienced a traumatic event, resulting in acute stress disorder or PTSD. For them, these stressors were so impactful that the development of these trauma-based illnesses were almost inevitable.

Overall, for the most part, mental health issues can be prevented with a consistently healthy lifestyle in place. Keep in mind that just because your father or mother had an illness, does not mean that you will too! Minimize your stressors and maintain a positive outlook on life.

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Can Mental Health Issues Be Cured?

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Living With A Mental Illness

The word cure is very powerful: to relieve someone of his or her illness. Multiple physical conditions can be cured, but something like a mental illness is not curable. It doesn’t mean that you will experience an illness for your entire life; you may not even experience an illness for longer than 6 months! But we cannot say that your depression is “cured” when we don’t even know what causes depression in the first place.

The truth is that we do not know what causes anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD and many more. We have theories based on altered neurotransmitter levels, genetic mutations, malfunctioning receptors and traumatic memories, but we do not have a definitive explanation as to what causes a mental illness.

But just because mental health issues cannot be cured, does not mean that you cannot successfully recover from them. Many people continue to live normal lives after being diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, panic disorder, OCD, borderline personality disorder, etc.

As of today, the aim is not to cure a mental illness: it’s too treat it and stabilize the patient to the point of achieving remission. Remission means that an illness is under control and a person can live a normal life without being symptomatic. No treatment is perfect, and residual symptoms may linger depending on your personality and severity of the illness.

The hope remains that one day we will have a cure for all mental illnesses. But until then, we must remain positive that the treatments that we do have available are capable of controlling the symptoms brought upon by a mental illness. Many people do obtain symptomatic control with psychiatric medications, psychotherapy, family support and a positive mindset!

Never lose hope in your recovery. There is always help around the corner and The DSM Ready Community is always available for comfort and support!

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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.

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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.

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The Death Of Kobe Bryant

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The Importance Of Being Thankful

On January 26th, 2020, the world was shocked to hear about the passing of one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Kobe Bryant. Only 41 years of age, Kobe was in a helicopter with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people. This goes to show you that tomorrow is never promised. The death of Kobe Bryant reminds us that one day we are here, and the next we are not.

The reality of life is that bad things happen to good people and we will never understand why. Why do so many bad people continue to live on while good people like Kobe Bryant pass away at such a young age? While we will never know until we all reach God’s kingdom, this goes to show us how important it is to not take life for granted.

We often complain about this and that and how we want more in life, but we forget to take a step back and be appreciative of the fact that we are alive, breathing, walking, thinking and talking. These basic human capabilities are often taken for granted: they become replaced with complaints, arguments and hatred.

The importance of being thankful for your life and everything that you have cannot be stressed enough. Every day, innocent people die for no apparent reason. It’s just the way the world is designed. We’re not always meant to understand why we have to experience the pain that we do; it happens, we grow from it and we move on.

It’s important to remind yourself to be thankful for everything that you have on a daily basis; not just when a celebrity star unexpectedly passes away. When stars pass away, they remind us how important and precious our lives are. It makes us feel sad and terrible pain inside, even if we didn’t know the stars personally.

But this pain is a reminder of how much suffering death brings to us, and why we have to count our blessings every single day! Even when we are annoyed, sad or angry, we must remind ourselves, “Despite all of my emotions, I am alive and I am thankful that God has given me a chance to experience life.”

Rest in peace Kobe Bryant. May God continue to bless you and your family for eternity!

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Envious Friends

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Knowing Who Your Real Friends Are

Having good friends is crucial for your mental health because it helps to prevent loneliness, increase your self-esteem, improve your confidence and much more. But as anyone knows, it can be quite difficult to make good friends. Many friends who you think might be good, actually turn out to be envious: these envious friends can be quite poisonous.

Knowing who your real friends are can be quite a challenge at times, especially in the beginning when they are new. They may be nice, supportive, entertaining, funny and caring, but these traits can often disguise their envious nature. If you are not good at reading between the lines, you may not notice that one of your friends is actually envious of you and does not really like you as much as you think.

Spotting envious friends should not be that difficult. Look for some of these signs:

  • They often make fun of you for no apparent reason
  • They often look at you from the corner of their eyes like you’re better than them
  • They may talk behind your back in a negative way
  • They may not seem that interested in your presence when hanging out
  • They may appear superficial and distant around you

. . . and more. You’d be surprised on how many people miss the above signs in their friendships, carelessly holding onto these toxic relationships. Because they miss these signs, the toxicity may not necessarily be apparaent to them, but guess what is working 24/7 and recording everything?

You guessed it! The unconscious mind. These toxic friendships take a toll on your unconscious mind, further adding to the pile of mental conflicts that we all carry on a daily basis. Even worse, some people may know that they have envious friends and still hold onto them!

It’s not that surprising. It’s similar to people who remain in dysfunctional or unattractive relationships out of the fear of being single again or starting their dating experience from scratch. But if you are holding onto envious friends or a bad relationship, then you are doing yourself a disservice.

You should always put your mental health and well-being first, even if it means cutting down on many current friends that you have. It’s better to be by yourself than to have friends who are envious or don’t care that much about you. Even though it might be emotionally difficult to be by yourself in the present moment, it’ll be better in the long-run when you do find meaningful friends who have your back.

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Understanding Depression

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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.

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