Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Nearly 1 in 5 adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. Yet, 56% of adults with mental illness do not receive treatment. Amid COVID-19 and preparations being made to reopen the country, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month was created in 1949 by Mental Health America to reach millions through local events, screening, and media. The purpose is to show that everyone should care about mental health. The theme of 2020 is “Tools 2 Thrive.” A toolkit has been created to provide real-life tools and techniques that can be used by everyone to increase resilience and improve their mental health.

The printable handouts include ways to connect with others, screening kit, tips for staying positive, and more. This information can also be modified for the short term in response to dealing with COVID-19 and social distancing.

 

COVID-19 and Mental Health

Mental illness directly impacts your body. For example, those with depression are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Scientists have found that increased inflammation, metabolic changes, and changes in heart rate and circulation are present in those with depression.

The lifetime prevalence of any anxiety disorder is 31.6%, making the number of U.S. adults diagnosed a whopping 42.5 million. COVID-19 has changed the way we live our lives, possibly forever. The number of cases, misinformation, and distance learning are just a few reasons anxiety these days can increase. Learning how to recognize when it’s more than “worry” is only one of the reasons why mental health awareness is so important.

What You Can Do

 

Mental Health America states, “84% of the time between first symptoms and first treatment is spent not recognizing the symptoms of mental illness.” When a mental illness is screened and caught early, treatment is more effective, resulting in positive effects being seen sooner. Many have said that before the results of their screening, they would not have known they needed treatment or had a mental illness. Mental Health America offers a free screening tool to see if you have any early warning signs. Although it is not a diagnosis, it provides insight into beginning those conversations with your doctor or family about your mental health.

Participating in clinical trials is also a great way to learn more about different mental health conditions, and be a part of potential new options that are being studied to diagnose and manage them. To learn more about getting involved in future mental health studies at one of our locations, visit our website here.

References:

https://www.mhanational.org/mental-health-month

https://www.mhanational.org/mentalhealthfacts

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/chronic-illness-mental-health/index.shtml

 


Could it be Anxiety?

Anxiety is a term that is used so often; it seems to have lost some of the credibility. Anxiety and stress share similar symptoms, so it is understandable why the two are interchanged so frequently. Chances are, many adults and children may have anxiety that they have brushed off as stress, or as a phase, missing valuable interventions. So how do you know if it is stress or anxiety? We have some clues that can help.

Stress Response

A stress response is a way the body protects itself from a real or perceived threat. For example, the car in front of you slams on their brakes, and you come to a screeching halt just in time. Your heart is beating fast; your muscles are tense. Your stress response is what enabled you to act precisely in the nick of time to avoid the real threat of crashing into that car.

Perceived threats also trigger the stress response, and these happen more often than the real ones. Examples for adults include stress from financial issues, relationship problems, and pressures from work. Examples for children include worrying about grades, family problems, natural disasters, and health. Common stress symptoms are:

  • Recurrent Headaches
  • Sweaty Palms or Feet
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Excessive Worry
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty Concentrating

 

Anxiety

 

The stress response is a good thing when it helps us stay safe or meet that crazy deadline. However, your body is not meant to handle chronic stress, and health problems can occur. Generalized anxiety disorders can be triggered by chronic stress. Once the “threat” is solved, stress symptoms usually go away. With anxiety, the symptoms stay around, eventually disturbing work, social, and personal functions.

Anxiety is defined as excessive worry about any number of things and affects both adults and children. This feeling lasts more days than not for longer than six months and is not proportionate to the actual likelihood of the event occurring. Some additional anxiety symptoms are below:

  • Struggling to Control Worry
  • On Edge
  • Fatigues Easily
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle Tension
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Shortness of Breath, Excessive Sweating, Chest Pains

Children Get Anxiety Too

 

Anxiety is a normal part of childhood, and sometimes it is difficult to recognize the difference between a phase, or more. A phase is something harmless and temporary when an anxiety disorder cannot be resolved, no matter how much comfort and reassurance is offered. Children with anxiety disorders show persistent shyness and avoid places, activities, and people.

Stress is the New Normal

Everyone experiences the ebbs and flows of stress, so it is important to learn how to manage it when you can. If you feel you or your child is unable to manage stress or symptoms are interfering with your daily life, talk to your doctor. Treatments for anxiety include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

Forty million adults and one in eight children suffer from anxiety disorders in the United States. It is the most common mental health issue. To learn more about what upcoming anxiety studies Evolution Research Group is conducting that are exploring new options, click here.

References:

 

https://www.psycom.net/stress-vs-anxiety-difference

https://adaa.org/sites/default/files/Anxiety%20Disorders%20in%20Children.pdf