Mental Health and Depression Month

Being healthy doesn’t pertain just to your physical health. Your mental and physical health and well-being work and go together. Caring for your mind, as well as your body, is good for your whole health and key to your success at home, at work and at school. The stigma of behavioral health issues affects not only those who suffer from it, but also those who try to provide the services to assist them in living fulfilling lives.

Mental Health involves areas such as Depression, bipolar disorder, Anxiety, post-traumatic Stress disorder, alcohol and eating disorders to name a few.

About one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year; and many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time.

Mental Health and Depression Month is designed to call attention to mood and Anxiety disorders on a national level, to educate the public and clinicians about the symptoms and effective treatments, to offer individuals the opportunity to be screened for the disorders, and to connect those in need of treatment to the mental health care system.

This designation also provides useful information that you can use to help to balance your everyday stresses, increase your awareness of mental health issues, and improve your own overall health.

“Caring for mental health should be part of each person’s daily routine for overall health,” said Michael Faenza, NMHA president and CEO.

No community, no school and no workplace is unaffected and untouched by mental illness:

  • $24 billion is annually lost by employee work impairment (behavioral); in any given year
  • One out of 5 adults have a serious mental illness
  • 5% to 9% of children suffer from serious emotional disturbances

Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in North America, Europe and, increasingly, in the world. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children. Mental illnesses strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.

10-15% of all depressions are triggered by other medical conditions (such as thyroid disease, cancer or neurological problems) or by medications. The use of drugs and alcohol can also cause Depression. Mood and Depressive disorders often co-occur with Anxiety disorders and substance abuse.

Are you also aware that chronic Stress, Depression or Anxiety can double your heart attack risk and also increase your likelihood of developing serious illnesses like Diabetes and cancer?

Medical psychologist Joseph Mancusi, president of the Center for Organizational Excellence in Sterling, says that “Stress leads to real physical and mental health problems, often starting with Sleeplessness, which is tied to many physical ailments and which can damage the Immune System, opening the door to illness”.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on mental health, more than half of all people with a severe mental illness fail to seek treatment. Many people do not receive treatment for mental health problems due to a lack of awareness of the problem, fear of stigma, or lack of access to appropriate services. Yet, overall quality of life is greatly improved when a person with a mental health problem gets an early diagnosis and receives appropriate treatment.

Facts About Depression for Men, Women, Adolescents and Children

Men:

  • In the United States, Depression affects nearly 7% of men (6 million men).
  • It remains unclear whether Depression is actually less common among men, or if men are just less likely to recognize and acknowledge the symptoms than women.
  • Four times as many men as women die by suicide in the U.S.
  • Men often deal with Depression by withdrawing from others and throwing themselves into their work, engaging in risky or dangerous behavior, and/or becoming angry, frustrated and abusive.
  • Sons of Depressed fathers show decreased levels of cognitive performance.

Women:

  • Women 18 to 45 years of age account for the largest proportion of people suffering from Depression.
  • 20 to 40% of menstruating women experience premenstrual mood and behavioral changes.
  • Approximately 2 to 10% of women experience Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, a severe form of premenstrual syndrome that is characterized by severely impairing behavior and mood changes.
  • In one major study, 100% of women who had experienced severe childhood sexual abuse developed Depression later in life.
  • Although bipolar disorder is equally common in women and men, research indicates that approximately three times as many women as men experience rapid cycling.
  • Other research findings indicate that women with bipolar disorder may have more depressive episodes and more mixed episodes than do men with the illness.
  • As many as 10% to 15% of women experience a clinical Depression during Pregnancy or after the birth of a baby.
  • There is a three-fold increase in risk of Depression during or following a Pregnancy among women with a history of mood disorders. Once a woman has experienced a postpartum Depression, her risk of having another reaches 70%.
  • Preschool children of Depressed mothers have been reported to have lower social competence.

Adolescents:

  • About 4% of teenagers have major depressive disorder (MDD) at any one time.
  • Among teens, girls are more often affected than boys. MDD frequently interferes with home, school and family life, including causing a lot of family Stress.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers, with about half of these associated with Depression. This makes Depression a common and serious illness that is important to identify and treat early in the course of the disease.
  • Up to 90% of bipolar disorders start before age 20.
  • Adolescent children of Depressed parents have more difficulty relating to peers, higher rates of Depression and Anxiety, and increased rates of disruptive behavior problems.

Children:

  • About 2% of school-aged children (children 6-12 years of age) appear to have a major Depression at any one time.
  • With puberty, the rate of Depression increase to about 4% major Depression overall.
  • With adolescence, girls, for the first time, have a higher rate of Depression than boys. This greater risk for Depression in women persists for the rest of life.
  • Depression is diagnosable before school age (ages 2-5) where it is somewhat more rare but definitely occurs.
  • Overall, approximately 20% of youth will have one or more episodes of major Depression by the time they become adults.
  • Bipolar disorder is more likely to affect the children of parents who have the disorder. When one parent has bipolar disorder, the risk to each child is estimated to be 15-30%. When both parents have bipolar disorder, the risk increases to 50-75%.
  • According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, up to one-third of the 3.4 million children and adolescents with Depression may actually be experiencing the early onset of bipolar disorder.
  • School age children of Depressed parents have more difficulty relating to peers, higher rates of Depression and Anxiety, and increased rates of disruptive behavior problems.

The signs and symptoms of clinical Depression are:

  • Persistent sad, Anxious or “empty” mood
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of pleasure and interest in once-enjoyable activities, including sex
  • Restlessness, Irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as Chronic Pain or Digestive Disorders
  • Difficulty Concentrating at work or at school, or difficulty remembering things or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

If you or someone you know experiences five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, this could be clinical Depression.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is characterized by excessive, uncontrolled worry about everyday things. Physical symptoms include Muscle Tension, Nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, cold and clammy hands, difficulty swallowing, jumpiness, difficulty sleeping.

About 2.8% of the adult population ages 18 to 54 has GAD during the course of a given year. GAD most often strikes people in childhood or adolescence, but can begin in adulthood, too. It affects women more often than men. The onset of GAD is usually younger and the symptoms slower to emerge than most Anxiety disorders.

Facts About Anxiety Disorders

  • Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. alone $42 billion a year
  • Anxiety disorders may develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events
  • An estimated 19 million adults suffer from Anxiety disorders
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering from an Anxiety disorder receive treatment
  • Anxiety disorders frequently co-occur with depressive disorders or substance abuse
  • Most people with one Anxiety disorder also have another Anxiety disorder. Nearly three-quarters of those with an Anxiety disorder will have their first episode by age 21.5

Take care to mind your mental health and that in turn will help you with your physical health and well-being as well. Utilize all of the available tools, knowledge and natural treatments that you are now cognizant of and take care of your own health and those near and dear to you too.

If you or someone in your family has a mental illness, take some time out this month to learn more about yours or their condition and how you can take an active role in taking care of yourself and supporting your family.

References: SAMHSA’s National Mental Health Information Center; NTIS; National Mental Health Association -NMHA.org; National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare; Lisa Angelettie M.S.W.; NIMH National Institute of Mental Health.

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