How comfortable would you feel about opening up about your mental health to a doctor or even a close friend or relative? Many of us don’t think twice about going to the surgery with backache or flu, but when it comes to psychological symptoms, we’re much more guarded. The truth is that one in four people in the UK will experience mental health issues in their lifetime. If you’ve been guarded in the past or you’re trying to hide a mental health condition from those close to you, it’s time for change. As a society, our attitude to mental health is evolving, and it’s so important to realise that there is help out there.
Mental health: the facts
Up to a quarter of the population in the UK will suffer from a mental health disorder in their lifetime. In the last decade, the number of cases of mental health conditions has increased, and figures relate to a much wider demographic. Although mental health issues are more prevalent in women, there is a belief that figures may be higher due to the fact that women are more likely to seek help for psychological illnesses than men. The number of men and women affected by mental health disorders may actually be significantly higher than statistics suggest. There are many different types of psychological illness, and symptoms often range from mild to severe. The most common mental health disorders include anxiety and depression. Less common conditions include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and psychosis.
Dealing with depression
When you hear about mental health in the news, or you come across people sharing their stories online or in magazines or radio shows, they often talk about depression. Today, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people will suffer from depression in their lifetime. Tackling depression is important because depression increases the risk of potentially life-threatening complications and suicide. Depression has been linked to dementia, chronic insomnia and even an elevated risk of heart disease. As a nation, we find it difficult to deal with depression because many people feel uncomfortable about talking about their symptoms. Although there have been major improvements in mental health care, it can be tough to understand psychological illnesses. There are no visible bruises to show a friend or a cough or a limp to give the game away. It’s much harder to spot the signs, and often, even when you do confide in somebody, they may not know how to react.
One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with depression is recognising that things aren’t ok. Yes, we all have days when we don’t feel elated, or we don’t have much enthusiasm for the day ahead, but this is not depression. Depression is not feeling a bit blue or lying awake at night thinking about an important meeting or an exam. Depression is characterised by prolonged periods of feeling low and losing interest in activities like socialising and spending time with family. People with depression tend to feel hopeless and question their worth, and they may find it hard to even get up in the morning. You can find more information about the symptoms of depression here https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/d/depression. Severe depression is not something you can shake off or snap out of. It often requires long-term treatment.
What causes depression?
Depression can affect people for myriad reasons. Sometimes, there’s a trigger or an event, such as loss of a loved one, a diagnosis of illness, a traumatic experience or an accident that leaves you with significant injuries. Between 20 and 40 percent of people with dementia develop depression while bereavement is a very common cause of depression. In other cases, depression may be associated with losing your job, money worries or relationship issues or it may be linked to other mental health disorders, such as anxiety. If you have depression, it’s so important to get the right help. Facilities like www.ParcProvence.com provide tailored care for those who suffer from dementia and its complications, and there are many other treatment centres that offer specialist care for people who suffer from long-term conditions and those develop mental illnesses following life-changing events. For minor and moderate cases of depression, doctors often recommend a combination of therapies, which may include medication, talking therapies and self-help techniques. Whatever the cause of your symptoms, it’s important to understand that there are treatments available, and there is always a chance that things will get better, even though this may seem impossible at the time.
Why it’s so important to open up about mental health
If you use social media or you watch TV on a regular basis, you may have noticed that there have been a lot of campaigns, usually spearheaded by celebrities, which are designed to raise awareness of mental health. Talking about mental health in the media encourages people who may be suffering to speak out, and it also educates people who perhaps haven’t ever had symptoms or come across somebody with a mental illness before. It’s essential to open up to help yourself, but also to continue this upward turn. The more comfortable the environment, the more likely people are to share their symptoms and seek help. Without help, there’s a risk of all kinds of health problems and long-term complications. If you feel low or you’ve been out of sorts, pluck up the courage to talk. You don’t have to speak to somebody face to face if the thought of that intimidates or scares you. There are phone lines and forums out there. You may also find it helpful to take a friend to the doctor with you or to speak to a family member before you open up to a doctor.
Many of us feel absolutely fine when it comes to telling a colleague about an ankle injury, discussing back pain with an employer or sharing tales of sleepless nights caused by a heavy cold with friends. However, when it comes to mental health, we tend to keep our experiences close to our chest. If you’re worried about mental health or you want to do more to help others who may be struggling around you, it’s time to be more open and accepting.
If you feel like you could benefit from some therapy or online counselling, Better Help may be able to help you move in the right direction.
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