For a long time, mental health was not something that was spoken about. There are a few reasons for this. Physical injuries and their treatment often tends to be far more straightforward. If you break a bone there is an obvious bruising or swelling, or, in the worst case scenario, a bone sticking out of the skin. It’s striking, it’s obvious and the need to act upon it, and how, is relatively clear. Similarly, in the case of a physical injury, like a broken bone, there will be a clear and obvious reason for the broken bone. You fell off a ladder and scored a broken bone. Mental health related issues are rarely this clear cut. The effects on a person are often highly internalised and can be difficult for the person to articulate. Without clear evidence of the ailment people can often struggle to empathise, creating doubt, which is obviously incredibly frustrating and isolating for the person who is struggling with a mental health disorder. This lack of understanding can often lead to stigmas related to mental health issues. Thankfully, this is beginning to break down and awareness and treatment for mental health disorders is becoming increasingly normalised. A lot of this has to do with increased advocacy but it can also be put down to an increased prevalence. The National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing conducted in 2021 found that an estimated 1 in 5 (21%) of Australians aged 16-85 experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months. It’s important to recognise that this doesn’t mean that these people have simply struggled emotionally during this time. In this case a mental illness is defined as something that can be clinically diagnosable and significantly impacts upon a person’s cognitive, emotional or social ability in a negative way. Whilst there are many debates within the medical community about what does or does not constitute a mental health disorder, there are several that are incredibly common. With this in mind, let's explore the most common mental health disorders.
Anxiety is a word that we have to be careful with how we use it. It’s normal to experience some anxiety when faced with a stressful event or change in our lives. We are designed to protect ourselves when we feel under threat. When faced with a threat our bodies release a series of chemicals, like adrenaline and cortisol. These chemicals are awesome as they help us to feel more alert, increasing the speed of our reaction time and increasing our heart rate, to help get blood to the places that need it most. These kinds of reactions are often described as the, ‘Fight, flight or freeze response’. We often don’t have a lot of control over the physical response when placed in a stressful situation.
Where anxiety tips over from being a natural response to a stressful situation and into the realm of a mental illness is when it begins to impact upon your ability to live your life the way you want to. For example:
- Your feeling of anxiety lasts for really long periods.
- Your worries and concerns are highly disproportionate to the situation.
- You feel the need to avoid situations that might bring on feelings of anxiety.
- Your worries feel really outside of your control and cause you a lot of stress.
- You regularly experience symptoms of anxiety, like regular panic attacks.
- Even the things you enjoy doing feel really difficult.
There are loads of options to help with treating anxiety disorders. If any of the examples above resonate with you then it is important that you speak to a doctor. Talking therapies and medications may be recommended and there are many supplements available from chemist online Australia that can possibly help with managing symptoms of anxiety disorders. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone and that help is available.
Just like how anxiety is far more than feeling worried, depression goes far further than just feeling sad. Depression is a low mood that really lingers. Milder forms may simply manifest as a low mood that makes you feel less motivated to do activities or leave you questioning your worth. At the more extreme end it can be particularly life-threatening, leaving people feeling suicidal, unable to see the purpose in going on living.
There are varied types of depression, with some being directly linked to different seasons or stages of life. For example, Seasonal Affective Disorder is linked to particular times of year and Postnatal Depression takes place within the first year after giving birth.
There are several feelings and behaviours that may signal that you are experiencing depression. Here are some to look out for:
- Extended feelings of being down, upset or tearful.
- Feeling restless and agitated on a regular basis.
- Regularly questioning your self worth and being harsh on yourself.
- A sensation of feeling empty or numb.
- Feeling isolated from others and struggling to relate.
- Struggling to find pleasure in things that you would normally enjoy.
- A general sense of hopelessness or despair, possibly even suicidal thoughts.
- Beginning to avoid social gatherings or activities.
- Self-harm, possibly through increased substance abuse.
- Weight fluctuations.
- Difficulty sleeping.
Much like anxiety, there are a plethora of options to help with kicking depression. Depending upon the severity, natural approaches, like increased exercise and supplements can be highly beneficial in boosting your mood. Simple vitamins, available from chemist online Australia, can help to support sleep and boost energy. In more severe cases, talking therapies and medications may be advised by your doctor. Always be sure to seek help if you are not feeling ok.
There are a huge range of other mental health disorders but this article has focused on anxiety and depression as they are the most prevalent. The other main groups include:
- Personality disorders
- Psychotic disorders
- Eating disorders
- Trauma related disorders
- Substance abuse disorders
All of these have their own complexities but are linked through the need for support and good medical guidance. Resources like chemist online Australia can be useful in offering products to assist with symptoms but it is critical that you speak to a doctor if you feel like your mental health is at risk. Just because it isn’t easy to see doesn’t make what you are feeling any less real and a professional can help you to better understand and manage what you are experiencing.
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