Mental Health Awareness month, celebrated in May, is such a special and important month for me. As someone that has experienced multiple mental health issues in her life, bringing awareness to this is very important.
For so long there has been a stigma around mental health issues and what it meant for the person suffering it. However, with the issue growing and the consequences becoming more severe the time to eliminate this stigma is now. Suicide has become the 10th leading death cause in the U.S and has increased by 24% since 1999. We can no longer ignore that this affects our society and we need to begin to take this issue as we would any other serious health issue.
What is a Mental Health Disorder?
Mental health disorders have to do with the brain and the mind. It can be caused by biochemical, environmental, physical, or emotional factors. There are many different ways mental health issues can be manifested and many causes for them. Because it is an issue that has many faces it is important to understand some of the most common ones, the statistics, and what to look for if you feel you or a loved one may be suffering from a mental issue or disorder.
–Depression is a disorder where there is an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. There are several forms of depression like Postpartum depression, which occurs after childbirth and can be due to the drastic change in hormones and the anxieties of parenthood. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America depression affects more than 16.1 million American adults today.
–Anxiety, on the other hand, is an intense and persistent worry and fear of everyday life situations. Just as depression, anxiety can come in many forms. For example, social anxiety, which happens in social settings can affect a person’s ability to create a connection with others. Over 6 million in the U.S live with anxiety.
-Bipolar Disorder, also called Manic Depression, is characterized for its mood swing episodes. People may go from manic state that may last weeks, even months, to a depressive state. Which can also last weeks or months. Bipolar disorder affects 3 million people in the U.S
– Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is excessive feelings or thoughts that lead to repetitive actions or behaviors. This is a disorder that can really effect the quality of life. Today it effects over 2 million people in the U.S.
-PostTraumatic Stress Disorder is a condition where a serious event like sexual assault, natural disaster, a life-threatening event, serious accident, the sudden death of a loved one, effects the quality of life of someone after the traumatic event. Over 7 million people live with this disorder.
If you notice a loved one or yourself is experiencing any of the following, speak up!
- change in sleep pattern
- Excessive drinking or substance abuse
- change in behavior such as extreme mood swings
- not taking care of personal hygiene
- loss of interest in activities that use to bring joy
Mental health is not for the crazy, it is for all, and should be taken seriously. It affects the quality of life of those that suffer from them so we must begin to talk about them like we would any health problem. We must also begin to ask ourselves, ”how we can help?”.
Millions of us live with a mental health issue and it’s time we share our story.
Written by: Lupita G.