The Myths About Mental Illness
There’s still a certain stigma surrounding mental health, but it shouldn’t be that way at all. When a whopping one in four of us experience mental health issues at some point our lives, it’s important that we feel confident in reaching out for support and advice when we need it.
Understanding these conditions, and educating ourselves and others is the first step in breaking down those barriers. It allows mental health to be something that is freely accepted and understood. Here are some of the most common mental health issues, and how to go about getting advice if you feel as though you’re suffering.
Common Mental Health Issues
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in the US, with an incredible forty million people affected each year.
This is eighteen percent of the population, and only includes people aged eighteen and over so the real number is likely to be even higher. ‘Anxiety’ is the general term for a range of issues including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, health anxiety, panic disorder and others. Anxiety disorders are complex and arise due to a mixture of genetics, life experiences, personality and brain chemistry.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects over two percent of the population or one in fifty people. A form of anxiety disorder, it is characterized by intrusive thoughts or fears. It includes ‘unreasonable’ worry, or a compelling need to perform an action- often repeatedly.
These could be rituals, checking behaviors or recurrent obsessive behaviors. Sufferers of OCD often feel that something ‘bad’ will happen if they don’t perform these behaviors. These symptoms currently start in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood. All genders and ethnicities are equally affected.
Another separate branch of anxiety disorders is phobias. Phobic disorders are characterized by a persistent, irrational fear and avoidance of certain situations or objects. Phobias such as agoraphobia, a fear of open spaces can affect a person’s life so badly they’re not even able to leave the house.
On the other hand, claustrophobia can cause issues such as not being able to use elevators, public transport or go into certain rooms. Almost everyone has a phobia of some kind; some can live with it without it impacting them dramatically. But for others, it can completely consume their lives.
Depression affects more than fifteen million Americans each year. This accounts for almost seven percent of the population. It’s more common in women than men, but anyone can be affected. Depression has been observed in adolescents and even in young children. They can display the same symptoms of sadness, hopelessness, low mood and mood changes that are not due to stimuli in the environment.
When you’re suffering from a mental health problem it can feel incredibly isolating, but as you can see- you’re certainly not alone. Mental health issues are very common. They’re nothing to be ashamed of, and so it’s important you reach out for help if you need it. Whether you speak to your GP, book into a psychological health care center or just phone a helpline. Take that first step and you can work on getting back on track.
Were you aware that these mental health issues were so prevalent? Do you have any advice for anyone suffering from these conditions that you could share?