It’s easy to see someone recover from a broken leg, see a scrape from a fall heal over time, or watch a wound go from an open one to stitched up, then have the stitches removed and a scar form.
It’s not easy to notice someone struggling with their mental health, it can be hard for you to recognize your own struggles at times. This doesn’t mean they should be ignored or pushed to the side.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. With the nearly three years of the COVID-19 pandemic constantly adding adversity to our lives, adjusting to the ever-changing environment can take a very large toll on one’s mental health.
At the beginning of 2020, Americans went from being in the office 40+ hours a week and commuting to work to a sudden and isolated work-from-home environment. This change filled many with heightened anxiety and feelings of depression.
Now that many of us are still working from home, many people have had to come face to face with these complicated feelings, which can lead to a sense of shame and feelings of doubt.
At Symbios Health Connect, our mission is to help others live healthy and happier lives, and that credo extends over mental health as well as physical. We encourage you to learn more information about these conditions, and give you, your family, and your friends access to resources if they’re needed. Make sure to consult with your doctor to discuss potential treatment and have an open, informed conversation about your symptoms.
Mental Health in the United States
Mental health problems can affect anyone, regardless of age, income, gender, or race. Based on data from 2020 collected by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, in 2020:
One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue.
One in six young people experienced a major depressive episode.
One in 20 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
The rate of depression in U.S. adults has increased significantly since the beginning of the pandemic. 32.8% of U.S. adults experienced depressive symptoms in 2021, compared to 27.8% at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, with only 8.5% before the pandemic, according to a recent study published in the Lancet Regional Health Americas.
Common Mental Health Conditions
There are many different kinds of mental health conditions. Some, such as depression and anxiety, are comorbidities, or illnesses that tend to show up together, while others are not related at all.
Additionally, some conditions are genetic, while others can be developed whether from external factors, like your living situation, change in life circumstances, or even pregnancy.
While we can’t cover an entire index of mental health conditions, we can shed some light on some of the most common ones: depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There are many different types of depression; major depression, persistent depressive disorder, perinatal depression (during pregnancy) and postpartum depression (after pregnancy), seasonal affective disorder, and depression with symptoms of psychosis.
Symptoms of depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, include, but are not limited to:
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
Feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling "slowed down"
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause that do not ease even with treatment
Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide
You may be suffering from depression if you are experiencing some of the signs and symptoms listed above for most of the day, nearly every day for two weeks.
It’s important to know that you are not alone. There are ways to help. Reach out to your physician to discuss symptoms and treatment.
When we discuss anxiety as a mental health condition, we aren’t talking about the occasional anxiety that is part of normal life. Worrying about health, financial issues, or family problems is not the same.
There are different types of anxiety disorders, for example, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and various phobia-related disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Anxiety disorders can be all-consuming. For those suffering from anxiety, it doesn’t just go away. It can get worse over time and symptoms can interfere with your daily life with school, work, and/or family. For those who don’t suffer from anxiety, it can be extremely hard to understand.
“Why don’t you ignore it?”
“Just forget about it!”
These phrases can be triggering to those with anxiety and are not helpful. Please make sure you are treating those with mental health conditions with compassion and respect.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder in which someone experiences “intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings” for long periods following a traumatic event, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association.
PTSD is a complex mental health condition. With between 11% - 20% of combat veterans experiencing PTSD, it is unfortunately very common. However, it can develop in anyone who has experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It can be developed at any age at any time, even months after the traumatic event has occurred.
With about 7 or 8 people out of 100 that will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, it is more common than most think, according to the National Center for PTSD.
Common symptoms include re-experiencing symptoms (flashbacks, bad dreams, frightening thoughts), avoidance symptoms (avoiding things that are reminders of the traumatic event and thoughts or feelings related to the event), arousal and reactivity symptoms (being easily startled, feeling tense or “on edge,” having outbursts, difficulty sleeping), and cognition and mood symptoms (depression, trouble remembering key features of the event, negative thoughts, distorted feelings like guilt or blame, loss of interest in enjoyable activities).
Recovery from PTSD is possible. While the road isn’t a straight and forward path, there are ways to lessen the symptoms and even recover. There are many treatments and therapies available to help with PTSD symptoms. You can learn more about PTSD and treatments on the National Institute of Mental Health’s website.
Where to Find Resources
If you read through this blog and noticed a few or more statements that you related to or have experienced in your life, you’re not alone and there are resources to help!
First, you should contact your physician and discuss treatment and therapy options available to you.
There are also many online resources you can access to help manage your mental health! Free apps like Headspace and Calm can help with stress, meditation, stress, and mindfulness.
In 2020, Congress designated the 988 code, similar to 911, for those who need access to mental health resources, the suicide prevention and mental health crisis services line provides resources to those who call. You can find more information on 988 at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
There is a free online crisis chat at IMAlive where you can chat with someone to get support. You can also find ways to volunteer, donate, and learn about their mission.
Since the pandemic, there have been a lot of online therapy options that you can access. Some, like BetterHelp and Talkspace, offer online therapy with licensed therapists. Some options are video chats, texting, and phone calls, so you can communicate with your matched therapist in the way that works best for you.
The CDC also has more information on what tools and resources you have access to. You can get more information on their People Seeking Help page for resources specific to your situation. If you are looking for stress and coping resources, you can find them on their website here.
We hope this blog gave you the information you were looking for or the access to resources available to you. This is not a comprehensive list of resources, so the more you are able to research and speak with professionals, the more you will be able to find.