Did you know that about 1 in 5 adults experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lives? Currently, 10 million Americans suffer from a mental health disorder. The top common mental health disorders are depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is one “main causes of disability worldwide,” affecting 264 million people globally. That’s a LOT of people. And considering some of the painful symptoms, such as sadness, disturbed sleep and appetite, tiredness, and poor concentration, it definitely should be talked about more.
As of recent, treatments usually include a varying level of both talk therapy and antidepressants. Therapists might use a combination of therapeutic interventions from many types of therapy in order to best address their clients’ depression. There are also numerous online therapists available for those who struggle with accessibility, affordability, or simply prefer therapy from the safety of their homes.
Depression affects everyone differently, but at the end of the day, it is a difficult mental health issue that can really impact your day to day life. Depression can come in waves, can stay for months at a time, and can be outright demanding of your time and energy. If someone you know struggles with depression, checking in with them can make a difference. You never know how one phone call or text can alter the trajectory of someone’s life. Depression makes you feel alone in your thoughts, and convinces you that being alone is the only option. These thoughts may be overpowering at times, but there is always help out there, and many reasons to keep moving forward.
While anxiety is another top contender for the most common mental health disorder in America, less than 40% of those who suffer from it ever receive treatment. That seems like a pretty dramatic failure, if you tell me. Despite our efforts to destigmatize mental health conditions, it appears that many people suffer without treatment. And battling anxiety on your own is no joke. Symptoms may include panic, fear, and uneasiness, feelings of panic, doom, or danger, sleep issues, not being able to stay calm/still, cold, sweaty, numb, or tingling hands or feet, shortness of breath/ hyperventilation, nausea, tense muscles, dizziness, inability to concentrate, and intensely or obsessively avoiding feared objects or places. And the list goes on.
It’s important to realize how dynamic anxiety really is from person to person. “Anxiety” is actually an umbrella term, as there are various types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, agoraphobia, separation anxiety, selective mutism and even medication-induced anxiety disorder. Like depression, anxiety can be treated with a combination of therapy and anti-anxiety medications. Depending on the type and severity of anxiety, you might never be recommended medication as long as you have found other ways to manage your symptoms. There are numerous coping mechanisms that a therapist or mental health professional can teach you to conquer your anxiety. But never be ashamed if self-help just isn’t working for you. Meds are there for a reason!
Anxiety, like depression, can come in waves. Or it can be a constant feeling that you can’t shake. It really depends on the person! Regardless of the severity or consistency, anxiety can be agonizing and limit your day-to-day life. But it’s important to remember that you have a huge community of fellow anxiety-sufferers by your side! You are not alone in your struggles.
3. Bipolar Disorder
Bet you didn’t know this affects 45 million worldwide? Yet nobody really ever talks about having it…weird. That’s because there’s still MAJOR stigma around this disorder, despite it being super treatable with modern medicine and therapies! Bipolar disorder is associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. It tends to develop towards the end of puberty, usually by the age of 25, but can develop later in life. There are two main categories in this disorder: Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2. Bipolar 1 consists of both highs and lows, however a major depressive episode is not required for this category. Bipolar 2 involves one or more major depressive episodes along with a manic episode at some point.
Oftentimes, Bipolar 2 is seen as the ‘easier,’ one as the hypomania that occurs with it tends to be milder than the mania that comes with Bipolar 1. This is not accurate as those with either still experience severe symptoms that affect their day-to-day activities and well being. Coping can be difficult, as the stigma behind it is still quite negative, despite it affecting so many people worldwide. Stigma comes from lack of knowledge and understanding of this disorder. That’s why this article exists: to create knowledge and understanding! Woo! Be gentle with your words when discussing bipolar disorder; you never know who is diagnosed, who is struggling, or who has been intimately affected by it.
Treatment for bipolar disorder includes medication and talk therapy. For those who fall into the other two lesser-known bipolar categories: cyclothymic disorder and bipolar not otherwise specified (NOS), medication and talk therapy are also recommended for treatment. Bipolar disorder needs to be addressed with these treatments and kept consistent for the highest efficiency. If you’re feeling better, it's because the treatments are working! Encouraging your loved ones, friends, or even yourself, to stay on their medication during the times they feel best is super important for long-term mental wellness.
Regardless of if you have one of these mental health disorders, if it’s severe or mild, if it's treated or untreated, you are not alone. Millions of people a year are dealing with their own form of mental health issues. Reaching out to find a therapist to talk to, sharing stories with friends, or creating an outline to help manage your mental health are all steps in a positive direction. You aren’t alone, help is out there! If you haven’t heard it today: You can survive this.
Mental Health Resources
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En español 1-888-628-9454
Text “HELLO” to 741741
Veterans Crisis Line
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255
Call or text 1-800-985-5990
Written by: Emily SchwerdtfegerInstagram: @emily_schwerdt