Why is Mental Health Important?

Why is Mental Health Important?

Well-being has become a frequent subject and, with this, we decided to bring up an issue of fundamental importance, which has the potential to change your life. Your mental health is important and is related to your general health.

Some mental health issues, such as depression, can increase the risk of serious illnesses such as obesity, heart diseases and diabetes, so you must seek help if you are going through a difficult period.

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What is the Definition of Mental Health?

Mental health is everything that involves your psychological, emotional and social well-being. It dictates how you make decisions, relate to and deal with your feelings.

Several factors can affect your mental health, such as:

  • Biological and Genetic Factors: Includes genetic inheritance, chemical and hormonal imbalances in the body, among others.
  • Environmental Factors: May include bullying or trauma such as sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Furthermore, substance abuse can also affect your mental health – such as alcoholism, smoking, and illegal drug use.

Poor Mental Health vs Mental Illness

There is a difference between poor mental health and mental illness, and that’s why it’s essential to look for professional help.

If you are having a tough week, with sleepless nights, poor diet, and stress at work, you may be experiencing a phase of poor mental health.

In contrast, mental illness is related to complex problems that the individual cannot resolve and are usually related to biological and environmental factors – such as brain chemistry, abuse or trauma.

Mental Health Disorder

Several mental health disorders can affect a person’s life, and it is essential to be aware that this is a problem that affects millions of people worldwide.

Here are some of them and other data shared by the World Health Organization (WHO):

1. Depression

Some of the symptoms of depression can include sadness, lack of interest, guilt, low self-esteem, eating or sleeping disorders, tiredness and poor concentration. Depression affects an estimated 264 million people worldwide – affecting women more than men.

This mental health disorder can be long-lasting and recurrent, and it can affect a person’s routine – whether at work, college, or wherever –. In more severe cases, depression can lead to suicide, so you shouldn’t ignore its symptoms.

There are several types of treatments for depression, which vary according to the patient’s diagnosis. Some solutions may cover talking therapies, antidepressants, and others, so there are ways to control the symptoms. Do not hesitate to seek help!

2. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings – manic and depressive episodes -, separated by periods of normal mood. Some manic episodes may include over-activity, irritation, rapid speech, inflated self-esteem and lack of sleep.

Some people with bipolar disorder don’t even notice that they’re having an episode, so it’s very difficult to keep a job or even relationships. The intensity and frequency of these episodes vary with the individual and, in some cases, can lead to irrational thoughts and hallucinations – such as seeing, hearing or smelling things.

Fortunately, there are effective treatments to stabilize the patient’s mood and prevent relapse.

3. Anxiety Disorder

It’s normal to feel anxious when faced with a complicated task or simply thinking about your obligations and responsibilities.

In these cases, anxiety is transient and disappears shortly after the problem is resolved. In contrast, anxiety disorder is related to anxiety that does not disappear and worsens over time.

Some of the anxiety disorders are:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

It is characterized by excessive anxiety or worry, which is repeated most days for an extended period. They can affect a person’s routine since their symptoms involve feeling restless, tiredness, poor concentration, irritation, muscle tension, sleep problems, among others.

Panic Disorder

It’s the diagnosis for people who suffer from recurrent panic attacks, characterized by episodes of intense fear, which appear and reach their peak quickly – sometimes, it can be minutes. People, situations or even objects can trigger these attacks.

The panic attack symptoms involve heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, lack of breath control, feelings of impending doom or being out of control.

Phobia-Related Disorders

Phobia-related disorders are characterized by intense aversion or fear of something specific – usually situations or objects.

People with phobias may have excessive fear or an irrational preoccupation with certain things, so they avoid them entirely and have intense reactions (or extreme anxiety) when faced with that situation.

A person can have phobia-related disorders with specific conditions and things like height, certain animals, or even social anxiety disorder, like using public transport, leaving the house alone or being indoors.

Stats on Mental Health

Here are some mental health facts that reinforce the importance of awareness around this issue:

Mental Health Disorders in the United States

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • More than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 5 American children have or will have a seriously debilitating mental illness at some point in their lives.
  • 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental disorder, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.

Mental Health Disorders Worldwide

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • Around 1 in 5 of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental disorder.
  • It’s estimated that 5% of adults suffer from depression globally.
  • Approximately 800,000 people die by suicide every year, the second leading cause of death among individuals aged 15-29 years.
  • People with severe mental disorders lose their lives 10 to 20 years before the world population average.

How to Improve Mental Health

1. Seek Professional Help

If you are experiencing difficulties, or know someone going through a delicate period, avoid making judgments and contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Do not be afraid to ask for help and believe that it is possible to control this situation.

There are many different types of treatments for mental health disorders, so remember you are not alone!

2. Talk About your Feelings

Although we experience good things in life, we all experience situations and traumas that echo inside our heads. In this sense, you must talk about that moment that made you feel bad or that situation that aroused an awful feeling.

You should never feel ashamed or afraid to ask for help and, just as you share the good news with your friends, you should also share bad news. Often, the simple fact of talking about that person who hurt you, or that situation that made you anxious, is a way to let that feeling go.

Do not be afraid to share your anguish with your friends and if you feel that it is not enough or that this problem has worsened, seek professional help as soon as possible. Therapy can have a transforming power in your life and help you deal with that pain or concern you have been carrying for a long time.

3. Exercises and Mental Health

Exercising can be an excellent tool to improve your mental health for a few reasons. The main one is that, when exercising, your body produces substances such as dopamine and serotonin – or “feel-good hormones”. These are hormones responsible for promoting a feeling of well being and decreasing stress levels.

Your diet also influences your energy, mood and performance throughout your life – especially if you eat poorly or have low nutritional value meals. Avoid skipping meals and try replacing junk food with healthy foods that will satisfy your body’s physiological needs.

This does not mean that exercising or eating better can cure a mental health disorder, so it is still important to seek professional help to treat your condition effectively.

4. Social Media and Mental Health

Science still has a lot to explore regarding the impact of social media on people’s mental health. Although there are still no conclusive studies that relate the effects of social media on mental health, I would still like to discuss some facts.

What you See vs Reality

Some tools like Instagram bombard your brain with information, and most of it can be harmful, especially if you’re going through a difficult time. Some of these triggers include wonderful travels, ostentation and, above all, people who appear to have a perfect life.

In this sense, the problem starts when you start to compare your life with the one you see on your smartphone – which most of the time is not even real. This can raise doubts about your values and your own identity – who you are and what your purpose is. It’s like being in a fairy tale but never being able to live it.

Time Flies – and you Don’t Notice!

One of the biggest problems with social media is that it was designed for you to be addicted to it. You spend hours and hours checking your news feed, following your friends’ stories, and interacting with other people – and you don’t even realize you could be doing something more productive.

You can use your smartphone at will, but if you use it compulsively, ask yourself if this isn’t affecting your life.

Although you don’t realize it, smartphones can provide other addictions (like gaming and porn addiction), besides making you antisocial, compromising your focus and the feeling of presence. The blue light emitted by smartphones still affects your sleep, and the fact is that all these factors are related to symptoms of mental health disorders.

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