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

 


Coping with Depression

Three hundred million people worldwide suffer from depression, and 16.2 million adults in the U.S. have had at least one depressive episode in a given year. Although it’s not uncommon to feel sadness from time to time, major depression is much more. Lasting feelings of sadness, lowered energy, loss of appetite, and lack of interest in things that once made you happy can be overwhelming. Depression leaves no age, race, or gender untouched, although women are twice as likely as men to experience a depressive episode. Clinical depression is manageable with the right treatment and coping strategies.

Learning How to Cope

Depression can feel like a force sucking the life right out of you. Most who are diagnosed know what things they can do to feel better, but just the thought of doing them may seem impossible. There is not a cure-all for depression that will work immediately, as most available treatments take time to see the effects. Finding the right one, or combination of options, takes diligent work with your doctor, and patience. Learning how to cope in the meantime, or when things get worse, is a necessity.

 

Helpful Coping Mechanisms:

  • Stay Connected- Build a solid group of loved ones who you can reach out to for support. Do your best to keep up with social activities, even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Do the Things that Make you Feel Good- Schedule fun things to do through the day that energize and relax you.
  • Keep Moving- Exercise is a mental health booster and something you can do now that will boost your mood. Thirty minutes a day is the recommendation, and rhythmic exercises have the best benefits like walking, running, Tai Chi, and swimming.
  • Eating Healthy- Your diet has a direct impact on the way you feel. Avoid overindulging in sugars and refined carbs. Don’t skip meals and add more foods with Vitamin B (citrus fruit, leafy greens, chicken, eggs), and ones that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, salmon, flaxseed, and soybeans).
  • Daily Dose of Sunlight- Serotonin is a mood booster and is activated by the rays of the sun. Fifteen minutes daily is all you need with the proper precautions taken.

Some days taking the first step is difficult. Starting small and being consistent can make it more comfortable, along with working closely with your doctor if things become overwhelming.

To learn more about upcoming depression studies looking into possible new options at Evolution Research group, click here.

 

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/facts-statistics-infographic#2

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/coping-with-depression.htm