MENTAL HEALTH 101
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH
Many of us have experienced discomfort, exhaustion, or maybe even depression from fighting negative thoughts that we can’t seem to control. Dealing with such issues can be a confusing, an overwhelming, and a daunting experience, that can affect our happiness, work performance, and relationships. If you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected.
You do not have to suffer, help is available.
MENTAL HEALTH IS TREATABLE
You don’t have to suffer
Mental health conditions cannot be overcome through will power and are not related to a person’s character or intelligence, but they are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.
CAUSES OF MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
Genetic factors contributing to the development of mental disorders include:
- Epigenetic regulation: Epigenetics affect how a person reacts to environmental factors and may affect whether that person develops a mental disorder as a result. Epigenetics is not constant over time. This means a gene is not always “on” or “off.” There must be the right combination of environmental factors and epigenetic regulation for a mental disorder to develop.
- Genetic polymorphisms: These changes in our DNA make us unique as individuals. A polymorphism alone will not lead to the development of a mental disorder. However, the combination of one or more specific polymorphisms and certain environmental factors may lead to the development of a mental disorder.
- Single gene changes: Rare.
Environmental factors contributing to the development of mental disorders include:
- Trauma: Sexual, physical, and emotional abuse during childhood all lead to an increase in the likelihood of developing a mental disorder. Highly stressful home environments, loss of a loved one, and natural disasters are also major contributors.
- Emotional harm: Negative school experiences and bullying can also result in severe long-term emotional damage. The realization of these issues has led to anti-bullying campaigns nationwide, and the implementation of these campaigns has placed a larger importance on the overall mental health of school-aged children and teens.
- Substance Abuse: Exposure tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs either prenatally or in childhood has been associated with the development of mental disorders beyond just substance use disorders or addiction.
Environmental factors alone do not cause mental disorders. Genetic factors also play a part in developing a mental disorder.
MENTAL HEALTH FACTS
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Using drugs
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
There is general agreement that at minimum, well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment, happiness), the absence of negative emotions (e.g., depression, anxiety), satisfaction with life, fulfillment and positive functioning.
- Realize your full potential
- Cope with the stresses of life
- Work productively
- Make meaningful contributions to their communities
- Getting professional help if you need it
- Connecting with others
- Staying positive
- Getting physically active
- Helping others
- Getting enough sleep
- Developing coping skills
People with anxiety disorders respond to certain objects or situations with fear and dread. Anxiety disorders can include obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorders, and phobias.
Behavioral disorders involve a pattern of disruptive behaviors in children that last for at least 6 months and cause problems in school, at home and in social situations. Examples of behavioral disorders include Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder, and Oppositional-Defiant Disorder (ODD).
Eating disorders involve extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors involving weight and food. Eating disorders can include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.
Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
Mental health problems and substance abuse disorders sometimes occur together.
Mood disorders involve persistent feelings of sadness or periods of feeling overly happy, or fluctuating between extreme happiness and extreme sadness. Mood disorders can include depression, bipolar disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and self-harm.
If you have OCD, you have repeated, upsetting thoughts called obsessions. You do the same thing over and over again to try to make the thoughts go away. Those repeated actions are called compulsions.
People with personality disorders have extreme and inflexible personality traits that are distressing to the person and may cause problems in work, school, or social relationships. Personality disorders can include antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.
People with psychotic disorders experience a range of symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions. An example of a psychotic disorder is schizophrenia.
Suicide causes immeasurable pain, suffering, and loss to individuals, families, and communities nationwide.
Trauma and Stress Related Disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after living through or seeing a traumatic event, such as war, a hurricane, rape, physical abuse or a bad accident. PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over.