Exploring Mental Health

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May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month since 1949, so what better time to talk about it than now?

Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. You may have noticed that, lately, people have been focused on practicing a lot more self-care than you might have seen in years past. That is because people are realizing just how important their mental health really is to their overall success. Even if you don’t suffer from a mental illness, mental health is incredibly important to your overall well-being.

Many factors contribute to an individuals mental health including biological factors, life experiences, and family history.

Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are health conditions that affect mood, thinking and behavior in individuals. It affects one in five adults every year. The severity of mental illness can vary from person to person. Mental illness can range from some negative thoughts that invade your mind when going about your typical tasks, or it can be a debilitating influence, leaving those affected unable to get out of bed or go to work. There are a variety of mental illnesses with over 300 different conditions, but here are some of the most common disorders.

  • Bipolar Disorder: A chronic mental illness that causes extreme mood swings resulting in the afflicted’s emotions ranging from manic highs to depressive lows.
  • Generalized Anxiety: A chronic mental illness that causes extreme worry over a variety of things. Sometimes this worry can interfere with accomplishing everyday tasks.
  • Depression: There are many forms of depression, but dysthymia and major depressive disorder are some of the most common mental illnesses. Dysthymia, otherwise known as persistent depressive disorder, is a chronic type of depression that can interfere with everyday life despite a lack of intensity whereas major depressive disorder can result in deep feelings of sadness that last for weeks on end and can drive those afflicted by it to attempt suicide.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: OCD results in repetitive thoughts that a person cannot stop despite knowing they are unreasonable.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: PTSD results from experiencing a traumatic event such as an accident or serving during a war and can manifest itself through flashbacks or being easily startled by small actions.

Managing Your Mental Health

No one can be happy all the time. Life comes with highs and lows, but understanding how to manage your mental health is half the battle sometimes. If you suffer from any mental illness, you should consult a mental health professional. But depending on the severity of a mental illness, you may to be able to incorporate some of these tactics into your daily routine to achieve more stability in your mental health.

  • Meditation: A key to mental health is being in-tune with your thoughts. Meditation has been said to help those that practice it recognize negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
  • Sleep: Adults should be getting between 6-8 hours of sleep a night. Getting enough sleep can affect mental processes and mental health.
  • Eating a Healthy Diet: Hanger is a real emotion (anger from being hungry). To avoid it, and other unwanted emotions, make sure to supply your body with enough nutrients to keep it fueled for a days worth of activity.
  • Exercise: It’s the magic word — endorphins. Endorphins are secreted when you exercise, and they interact with receptors in your brain that reduce the perception of pain. They can trigger a positive feeing in your body, which can be good for mental health.
  • Recognizing the Signs: Everyone is different and handles stress and life experiences differently, so it’s important you know your signs for when things aren’t going so well. Reach out to friends or consult a medical professional if you feel like your mental health might be at jeopardy.

Mental health is complex and not easily achieved, but understanding the principles of mental health and how to achieve balance are important steps in the process. If you’re looking for professional help, contact Jordan Gendelman, Ph.D. today. I offer individual and group therapy for those in need.

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