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

 


The Truth About Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder. It can be diagnosed as early as the age of 2, although some adults with milder symptoms live undiagnosed. Males are four times more likely to develop a form of autism than females. ASD is complex, and there is a lot of false information out there. Unfounded assumptions can have unintended, lasting effects on any medical condition. We are going to arm you with the basics of adult autism and reveal the truth to some common myths. Let’s get started!

Autism Defined

ASD covers a group of conditions that reflect challenges in social interactions, speech, communication skills, and repetitive behaviors. It has many subtypes, impact levels, and associated disorders. Some will need assistance for their entire lives, while others do not and can live independently. Genetics plays a role in most of the cases, although other factors increase the chances of someone being born with it.

Adults with ASD may exhibit different behaviors than those younger than them. Adult ASD symptoms include:

  • Clumsiness
  • Challenges conversating with others
  • Understanding other’s emotions
  • Challenges regulating emotions
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Involuntary noises such as repeatedly clearing their throat
  • Trouble understanding sarcasm or jokes

ASD is more common in males, but the “why” is not so clear. Some research suggests that those diagnosed with ASD have brains that are anatomically more male-like. Others indicate the testing that is used is based on male characteristics, and so more women may be misdiagnosed.

Common Myths

There is no shortage of the myths and stigma that surround ASD. Some people think that if you have ASD, you act just like Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.” This not true. No two people have the same characteristics with ASD. Here are some other typical myths and the truths behind them:

  • “Vaccines cause autism.”
    • Truth: Vaccines do not cause autism. The original study published in 1997 by a British surgeon has been discredited. In addition, numerous studies have debunked this myth.
  • “Autism is the result of bad parenting.”
    • Truth: ASD is coded into the genetics of the vast majority of cases. The 1950’s “Refrigerator Mother” theory contributed to this ridiculousness, citing that mothers who lacked emotional warmth caused ASD.
  • “If you have ASD, you are intellectually disabled.”
    • Truth: ASD can mean just as many exceptional abilities as it does challenges. Individuals diagnosed can have IQ’s in the typical to high ranges.

Learning More About ASD Through Research

Clinical research studies help substantiate information around medical conditions like ASD. The information learned sets the foundation for improving how these conditions are detected and managed.

Evolution Research Group routinely conducts autism studies evaluating potential new options at our Rogers, AR location. To get involved in future study opportunities, click here.

 

Reference:

https://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/gender.aspx

https://www.autismspeaks.org/

 


Healthy Hearts and Healthy Minds

 

Keeping your body healthy is something that has been instilled in us all our lives. If you take care of your body, you can live longer and have a happier life. Your brain is one of the vital organs that relies on a properly functioning body to have the blood flow needed to perform its daily functions. When your mind has what it needs, you can better solve problems, pay attention, communicate, and more. February is American Heart Month, and your heart is the key to giving your brain the blood flow it needs, along with the rest of your body. Learning how mental health and heart health affect each other along with what easy, healthy changes you can make, are the first steps to live a healthier life.

Mental Illness and Heart Health

 

Many believe that the relief of symptoms of depression, anxiety, etc. through smoking, eating fatty foods, and drinking are the main contributing factors linking heart disease and mental health. However, there are biological and chemical changes in the body that can also trigger mental health issues and impact heart disease. For example, stress can affect your blood pressure and heart rate from the increase in specific hormones it causes.

Also, those who have mental illness may lack the energy to do the things they need to keep up with their physical health, like exercise.

Getting Healthy

 

The arteries from the heart are the highways that supply vital oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the brain. Plaque buildup and hardening of the arteries from food and lifestyle choices isn’t just specific to the heart; it’s everywhere in the body. Diet and exercise are the keys to getting your health back on track and maintaining it.

Here are some food choices that will pack a punch:

  • Fish- One or two (4 oz) servings a week can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease and can reduce inflammation in arterial walls, which keeps blood flowing to the brain. Salmon, mackerel, rainbow trout, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • A Glass of Red Wine- The compounds in red wine help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. They also help thin out the blood, thus helping prevent dangerous blood clots.
  • More Produce- Every serving of fruits and vegetables eaten improves blood flow helping to lower high blood pressure. Produce rich in potassium such as bananas, tomatoes, and artichokes may also help prevent artery walls from thickening.

Exercise is right for your heart and brain. It helps improve heart function, and some activities can give your brain a workout through rhythm, strategy, and coordination. Below are some fun ways to work up a sweat:

  • Walking, Jogging, or Running
  • Ballroom Dancing
  • Circuit Workouts

Continuing clinical research is needed to better understand the diseases of the heart and its relation to mental health. These efforts improve diagnostic and therapeutic options for those affected by mental illness. Click to learn more about upcoming mental health studies at our research sites in DaytonRogers, and Little Rock.

 

References:

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/brain-health

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/mental-health-and-heart-health

(http://www.eatingwell.com/article/42303/what-to-eat-for-a-healthy-heart-and-a-healthy-mind/

https://www.prevagen.com/brain-health-tips/healthy-exercises-for-heart-and-brain/