Mental health is a subject that is not discussed enough in schools and is often the subject of jokes. But it’s something we all struggle with. That’s all you need to know about mental health, how to improve yours, and my personal journey of trying to improve mine.
What is mental health?
Mental health is our ability to manage stress, control our behavior and make choices. When someone has a mental health disorder or mental illness, these abilities can be compromised and affect your daily life. Some mental illnesses are depression, anxiety, OCD, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and behavioral issues.
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act.” mentalhealth.gov
When mental illnesses are ignored and untreated, it can lead to diminished enjoyment of life, substance abuse, social problems, and self-harm. However, feeling depressed or tired does not mean you are depressed, someone can have poor mental health and not have a mental illness. If you think you have poor mental health, ask yourself these questions:
Have I been feeling sad or depressed lately?
Have I been overly worried lately?
Did I eat or sleep too much or too little?
Has it been more difficult for me to perform daily tasks recently?
Am I failing to cope with everyday problems and stress?
Do I have suicidal or self-harm thoughts?
More questions can be found on Mentalhealth.com.
If you find yourself answering yes to more than one of these questions, contact your primary care provider to discuss your mental health and how you should manage it properly.
What causes depression?
Unfortunately, there is no known cause for depression, but life events, genetics, medications, and hormones can increase your risk of depression. Major or personal events such as moving, loss of a loved one, and divorce can contribute to the risk of developing clinical depression. You may also have a higher risk of suffering from depression if members of your family also suffer from depression. Even changes in the body’s hormonal balance can trigger depression.
What is anxiety and what causes it?
Anxiety can easily be categorized as an intense and constant worry and fear of everyday situations.
Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that peak within minutes (panic attacks). Mayoclinic.org
Anxiety is common and it is natural to experience it sometimes in your life. However, there are many anxiety disorders such as social anxiety, separation anxiety, agoraphobia, panic disorders, selective mutism, and substance-induced anxiety. These conditions should be diagnosed by a doctor, and if severe enough, your doctor may recommend treatment to help.
Some symptoms of anxiety are:
Constantly feeling that you are in danger
Tremor and rapid heartbeat
Having trouble concentrating
Having trouble sleeping
You should see a doctor if you are having some of the above problems and are concerned that they are causing you poor health, not performing your daily activities, and causing you to have suicidal thoughts or actions.
What is OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)?
OCD is a mental health disorder that occurs when a person is caught in a continuous cycle of obsessions and compulsions. These behaviors usually start as a way to reduce stress and worry. Many people will experience these thoughts and behaviors at some point in their lives, but that doesn’t mean you have OCD. You need to be diagnosed by a doctor to know for sure if you have OCD, but you can ask yourself these questions to see if you should contact your doctor to discuss getting a diagnosis:
- Should I doubt uncertainty?
- Am I afraid of the “unknown”?
- Am I doing everything I can to make things neat and symmetrical?
- Do I have bad thoughts about losing control over certain aspects of my life?
- Do I have unwanted thoughts?
- Do I follow a strict routine every day?
- Am I constantly asking for reassurance?
How to improve your mental health
There are many prescription medications that a doctor can prescribe for you, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mood-stabilizing medications. However, there are many things you can do every day to improve your mental health:
- Talk to a mental health professional – Even if you think your mental health is fine, talking to a professional can help you maintain your mental health and prevent any future mental health issues.
- Engage in regular physical activity – Exercise can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and improve your self-esteem and cognitive functions.
- Get enough sleep – Getting more sleep will improve your mood and boost your immune system.
- Practice Gratitude – Remember what/who you are grateful for. Also start a gratitude journal and write down three things you are grateful for from that day.
- Avoid Alcohol, Smoking, and Drugs – Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and any digestion of drugs can affect the chemicals in your body and brain.
- Take breaks – While working, many of us are stressed. Taking short breaks while you work can give your brain a “factory reset” and give you a chance to worry and concentrate better.
My current journey
For me, it is easy to hide my feelings and my true emotions. I’d rather not tell people what I feel deep inside rather than let them know and feel they have to help me. So, I don’t say much about how I feel. But recently my life has become a little more confusing and difficult to manage. So I thought to myself, what should I do to be happier? How can I improve my life and my mental health? Around this time, my family started going to church again, and my mother talked more about how I should draw closer to God.
When I was younger, I loved church and tried to go there with my friends every Sunday, but I was never close to God. I never really understood what was taught in Sunday school. I went there because I liked having friends and being part of something with them. So now, as I’m fifteen, I’m trying to learn and understand what the Bible says and strengthen my relationship with God (if I ever had one).
I’ve always heard people talk about how they felt God with them all their life and never questioned it, but all I ever did was question it. I’ve tried so hard to feel something so I can finally believe that God is real and is always with me, but it never happens. So maybe I’m having a little trouble finding my identity and understanding the Bible and God, but I’m trying and that’s enough.
I also tried to be less afraid of my emotions and less ashamed of myself. I think in today’s world we have become very quick to be ashamed of who we are and what has happened to us, but we shouldn’t be. We are not our past, our trauma or the assumptions of others. So, I tried to open myself more to others and I recommend others to do it too. Once you’re yourself and aren’t ashamed of it, life gets a little easier.
A few greetings if you are reading this
If you have just read my entire article, I hope it is not because you have lost your last hope for life, love and happiness. I hope you know that you are not alone and that people are going through the same things as you. Your life is so precious and precious and even though it seems like no one cares, someone does. Someone always does it, but they don’t always show it. Now I understand how retrograde it is for me to tell you to be happier and work harder on yourself when I myself am not doing my best but I try and I will really recommend giving it a try too, because i think things can get better if we just hold on a little longer.