Mental health is often viewed as a taboo topic, one that is not talked about enough. This is partly because people are afraid to talk about mental health conditions, which can be serious and even life-threatening. However, by not talking about mental health, we allow myths and misconceptions to spread unchecked. This article will dispel some of the most common myths about mental health. It will also provide information on some of the most common mental health conditions and what can cause or worsen them.
What is Mental Health and Why Should You Care About It?
Mental health is a term used to describe a person’s psychological and emotional well-being. Mental health includes our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is important to remember that mental health is not just the absence of mental illness. Everyone has mental health, just like everyone has physical health. And just as physical health can fluctuate over time, so can mental health.
Mental health conditions are common. About one in five adults in the United States (18.1%) experiences a mental illness in any given year.1 Mental health conditions are real, serious, and treatable. They can affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, and behavior in ways that interfere with daily activities. Mental health conditions are medical conditions that can disrupt a person’s life.
The Different Types of Mental Health Conditions
There are many different types of mental health conditions. Some of the most common include the following.
Anxiety disorders are characterized by feelings of worry, nervousness, and fear. People with anxiety disorders may avoid certain situations or activities out of fear or may experience physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, sweating, or difficulty breathing.
There are three types of anxiety disorders.
1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
A person with this disorder experiences excessive anxiety and worries superfluously about a number of things, such as personal health, work, school, or family life.
2. Panic Disorder
A person with this disorder experiences sudden and intense episodes of fear, known as panic attacks. Panic attacks may include physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, sweating, and difficulty breathing.
A person with a phobia has an intense fear of a specific object or situation. Common phobias include fear of heights, fear of animals, and fear of flying.
Depressive disorders are characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or worthlessness. People with depressive disorders may also experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, sleep problems, and weight changes.
There are three types of depressive disorders.
1. Major Depressive Disorder
A person with this disorder experiences persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness and may lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed. Major depressive disorder can interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy life.
2. Persistent Depressive Disorder
A person with this disorder experiences symptoms of major depressive disorder for two years or longer.
3. Bipolar Disorder
A person with this disorder experiences episodes of mania and depression. During a manic episode, a person may feel excessively happy or irritable and may engage in risky behaviors. During a depressive episode, a person may experience the symptoms of major depressive disorder.
The Causes of Mental Health Conditions
Mental health conditions are not caused by a single event or experience. There is no one “cause” of mental illness. Rather, mental health conditions are the result of a complex interaction of genetic, biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors. This means that mental health conditions can be caused by a variety of factors and that different people may be susceptible to different conditions based on their unique combination of risk factors.
While the exact cause of mental health conditions is not known, there are risk factors such as:
- Family history of mental illness
- Exposure to trauma or stress
- Substance abuse
- Poor nutrition
- Sleep deprivation
Some factors can also trigger an existing vulnerability. For instance, a study has shown that among the elderly, loss of teeth can cause a condition akin to major depression that is not treated. The more teeth are lost, the more serious the depression. Fortunately, in this case, there is a solution. A permanent tooth implant can replace any number of teeth lost, and the replacement teeth feel and function exactly the same as the original teeth. It is crucial to remedy the situation as soon as possible.
Preventing Mental Health Conditions
There is no sure way to prevent mental health conditions, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. For instance, if you have a family history of mental illness, you may be able to reduce your risk by seeking early treatment for any physical or emotional problems.
You can also reduce your risk by taking steps to promote good mental health, such as:
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting enough sleep
- Reducing stress
- Connecting with others
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health condition, there is help available. Mental health conditions are treatable, and recovery is possible. Treatment options include medication, therapy, and other support services. You can get started on the road to recovery by talking to your doctor or mental health professional.