Can Mental Health Issues Be Prevented?

Grayscale photography of woman in bathtub in front of white burning candles

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.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Can Mental Health Issues Be Cured?

Mentally ill man dressed in gray shirt and tie staring down

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!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Are Mental Health And Emotional Health The Same?

Sad blonde girl covering her eyes with braided hair

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)

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)

Celebrity Mental Health

Hollywood movie studios, palm trees and carts parked on street

The Mentally Ill Mind Of Celebrities

Fame. Fortune. Cars. Money. You name it. Mental illness has no boundaries and celebrities are no stranger to it. As a matter of fact, they may even have more experience with mental health services than most Americans. That’s because the life of a celebrity is not as great as one may think.

An artist has to come up with fresh albums, perform on yearly tours, attend photoshoots, do interviews, travel the world, etc. The limelight also takes a toll on their mental health: privacy goes out the window; everyone wants to know about their lives; endless questions about their careers and relationships circulate, etc.

Many celebrities became famous from a young age. They never had time to enjoy their childhood and just be a kid. Some examples include Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson and many more. When your mind skips the natural growth process of being a child and jumps prematurely into an adult state of mind, this affects the psyche of the celebrity adversely.

All stages of human development must be appropriately experienced in the right amount of time. When childhood prematurely ends because a person has suddenly developed stardom and is earning millions of dollars, that celebrity’s mind will unconsciously become stuck in the childhood phase of development.

When they get older, the fame and the money will no longer matter as much; they will have become desensitized. But what will slowly come back to the forefront of their minds is their inner longing for being a child again, except that now they are in their mid-twenties or older. They can’t be children anymore, and so they experience anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

A celebrity is just like any other person: they have feelings, emotions, desires, needs and the hope for a healthy state of mind. Many people envy celebrities for everything that they have, but this is not the right way to view them. We must be cognizant of the fact that their jobs are very stressful and hard on the psyche.

Celebrities are not any better than us, and we are not any better than them. We are all in this together!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Mental Health Is The New Focus

Kneeling psychotic brunette woman with hair covering face wearing a brown dress

Momentum For Mental Health

As more people come out and admit to suffering from a mental health condition, this process will continue to help shed more light on how significant mental health is. Every single thing that we do revolves around psychology and the mind; without it, we’d be walking corpses.

More people are coming out to realize that they are not alone in the battle against mental illness; it is much more common than we previously thought. As a matter of fact, we always knew that mental illness was common. But now, society in general is warming up to the idea that its prevalence and incidence are massive.

We are living in a time where people want to improve, and they want to improve fast. This is the day and age where people want a quick fix and perhaps some pleasure to go along with it; however, there’s a big BUT that comes along with this mentality.

This BUT is: there are no quick fixes to mental illness. Even antidepressants take 4-6 weeks to improve one’s mood and alleviate symptoms of depression, and even then, there is no guarantee. Many patients are on antipsychotics and still have florid psychosis churning in their minds.

Mental health is here in the sense that more people are coming out to admit their pain and suffering. But mental health is also not going away anytime soon. It takes time to heal from a mental illness, and even then, there is never a guarantee that your mental illness will not make a comeback at some point in the near future.

So rather than looking for that quick fix that you will never find, take a seat in that comfy couch or chair and open up to your psychiatrist about everything that is going on in your mind! We are very close to demolishing the stigma that has plagued mental health since the beginning of time.

And without your help, the process only slows down. We need the entire world to join behind The DSM Ready Movement and make mental health the new kid on the block.

Mental health is in. Are you?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Mental Health And Beauty

Beautiful woman naked in bathtub with water and flowers

Beauty Lies In The Eye Of The Beholder

Mental health and beauty are highly related because physical appearance is something that is on most people’s minds. Whether someone is beautiful, average or below average in physical appearance, it has an impact on their way of viewing themselves and those around them.

Beautiful people may unconsciously or consciously believe that they are better than others, or have an upper hand in certain situations. From the time since they were little, society has complimented their good looks, by providing them with opportunities that others were not granted.

By having good looks work to one’s advantage, beautiful people have learned how to maintain these opportunities in life. This does not mean that all beautiful people are stuck-up or believe that they are better than others. But this is an example of how beauty impacts mental health.

On the other end of the spectrum, unattractive people may have been made fun of since a young age. They quickly realized that society did not appreciate their unattractiveness, and labeled them as “ugly.” By having this word thrown at them since a young age, it gave room for insecurity, depression or anxiety to flourish.

In reality, the physical appearance of someone else lies in the eye of the beholder; the person who is observing gets to decide what is beautiful. What needs to change in our society is less emphasis on glamour and external beauty, and more care for the individual as a person!

By putting aside the importance of beauty and status that Hollywood and the entertainment industry throw at us, we will be able to focus more on what should be more important to the human race:

  • Personality traits
  • The care and comfort for another individual
  • Helping each other
  • Sharing mental health stories and symptoms of concern
  • Building fruitful relationships and friendships

. . . and the list goes on. Beauty is subjective, because what may be beautiful on the outside for one person, may be unattractive on the inside for another. But if we change the way we view others, by focusing more on the actual interaction among us, we will more effectively help alleviate insecurity, selfishness, excessive worrying, anxiety, substance abuse, and depression.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Prince Harry Mental Health

Group of women suffering from mental illness and standing on rock fragment outside

Even The Wealthiest Among Us Suffer

Prince Harry has come out of the shadows to admit that he has suffered for years from blocked emotions, mini-breakdowns, panic attacks and rage. This news should bring us excitement, not because of his suffering, but because it reinforces the idea that nobody is immune to mental health issues; mental health has no boundaries.

Many people suffer from mental health issues because they have never properly grieved a death in their family. It is actually very common, even among substance-abuse patients. They believe that by turning to a substance that will help numb the pain away, they can forget about the death.

But substances do not help forget about the death, they just bury the pain deeper into the unconscious mind. But once a substance is stopped, guess what slowly crawls back to the surface? Others don’t turn to substances, but constantly suppress the memories related to their loved one who has passed away.

By constantly suppressing memories and not grieving, the emotions slowly build up overtime. Once a trigger makes an appearance, it greatly increases the chances of the emotions spilling out and causing a massive breakdown. Massive breakdowns may be just the right amount of trigger to cause a serious depression or psychotic break.

We cannot progress in the field of mental health without honesty and open dialogue. We need everyone to come forward and admit to their struggles. Share it on The DSM Ready community and help others to come out as well. We need all the help we can get, and this will only be achieved via honesty and communication!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Famous People With Mental Illness

Men with mental illness hugging each other

Mental Illness Has No Boundaries

Fame, money or talent does not prevent mental illness from affecting one’s mind. No one is immune to mental illness, just as no one is immune to cancer. The brain is the most sophisticated organ in the human body and we have no access to it besides with imaging. And even then, we cannot really tell what is happening at the neuronal level.

Mental illness affects even famous people:

  1. Adele: suffered from postpartum depression, stating “I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me.”
  2. Lady Gaga: suffers from PTSD from a rape that she experienced at 19 years old, stating “my own trauma in my life has helped me to understand the trauma of others.”
  3. Leonardo DiCaprio: suffers from OCD, stating “I’m able to say at some point, ‘OK, you’re being ridiculous. Stop stepping on every gum stain you see. You don’t need to do that.’”
  4. Michael Phelps: suffers from ADHD since 9 years old, having used the swimming pool from a young age to burn off all of his excess energy.
  5. Demi Lovato: suffers from bipolar disorder which has caused her to battle drug addiction, eating disorders, self-injurious behavior and depression. She states the following about learning coping skills in therapy, “for the first time in my life, I started to feel.”

. . . and the list continues. Mental illness is real and can affect any human being on this planet. There is no reason to be ashamed of your mental illness. The goal is to make every person in this world comfortable with their diagnosis; not proud, but comfortable! Comfort brings upon happiness.

And we can use more happiness in this day and age!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

What Does Malingering Mean?

Young man showing photo of himself malingering

Malingering Versus Factitious Disorder

To malinger is to exaggerate or feign an illness in order to escape duty or work. There are many malingerers in the world of mental health. Some attempt to avoid long prison sentences by feigning a mental illness: they may try to act psychotic or depressed and suicidal. Some are successful and are sent to a psychiatric state hospital; others return back to prison to serve the remainder of their sentence.

Another example of malingering is a homeless person wanting shelter as winter is approaching. They will enter a hospital emergency department and make up various symptoms such as, “I had a seizure“, “I had a stroke”, “I’m really sick, my stomach has been killing me.” If the neurologist or ED physician is experienced, they will easily catch on to the malingering.

Factitious disorder is when a person presents with real symptoms in order to assume the sick role; they have an unconscious desire to be treated like a patient. They may self-inject fecal material in order to acquire a bacterial infection or self-administer insulin in order to become hypoglycemic.

Patients with factitious disorder are usually female nurses or hospital employees who have general knowledge of the healthcare system and desire upfront medical attention. There is even factitious disorder by proxy, where a person will make their child or elder sick in order to assume the caretaker role!

The clear difference between malingering and factitious disorder is that the former is a conscious act; the latter is a conscious act motivated by an unconscious desire. Malingerers find an excuse to obtain a get out of jail free card, while patients with factitious disorder have unconscious conflicts that become the drivers behind their behavior.

If you find a patient who is unwilling to cooperate with medical procedures and evaluations and paints a sketchy picture, then you have just met a malingerer. If you find a patient who is a middle-aged female and has a medical track record of entering many different hospitals in a short period of time for suspicious and questionable activity, then you have just met a person with factitious disorder.

Welcome to the world of mental health!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)