May is national mental health awareness month. Many people have a diagnosable mental health condition that goes untreated. Many don’t speak about mental health or about medications used to help those effected; however that is changing. With recent statistics released about suicide, mental health cannot be ignored if we are to prevent self harm and suicide incidents. The stigma surrounding this topic often makes it an uncomfortable topic for common conversation, but in families that suffer from depression, anxiety and other disorders that may be linked to genetics, the conversation needs to be had. With the dialogue on mental health increasing, it can often help if there are stories to relate to. Many celebrities have spoken openly about their own mental health experiences.
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression can mean many things to many people. Some people have a very physical reaction to anxiety and depression with stomach pain and headaches. Others sleep or suffer from insomnia. While anxiety and depression are common, they are a very real struggle that involves a chemical imbalance in the brain. Those that turn to substance abuse to dull the effects of anxiety or depression may develop a dependency to self medicate. By covering up the root of the problem with substance abuse, they can go untreated for this chemical imbalance and end up with a severe addiction problem. Young adult addiction is often a cry for help for much more complex problems that they don’t understand.
Treating anxiety and depression can be as easy as a visit to your general practitioner. From there, some seek second opinions and treatment from psychologists, psychiatry professionals and other support resources to treat the symptoms. What ever the route, it is important to get a medical opinion to ensure that the anxiety and depression are treated appropriately. With the practice of dual diagnosis treatment, many with these mental health concerns find that they have other co-existing conditions that make the symptoms more severe. While some prescription medications are very effective, therapy is also a great resource to help gain knowledge and the right skill set to know how to overcome obstacles. Residential treatment is a great option for those that have abused substances and/or have mental health concerns.
One story of a young lady that lived with anxiety and depression has been shared on social media several times. She describes this debilitating state of living. Constantly fighting with stomach issues, medical concerns and all of the consequences of this combination; she finally found the right diagnosis at age 30 and now has a life that is much easier to manage. She says that finding happiness in her diagnosis helped her piece together her life.
In January of 2010, I started seeing a new general practitioner. He listened to the story of my illness, and proclaimed, “Of course they couldn’t find anything wrong with your stomach, it’s your brain.” He prescribed venlafaxine and a milder pain killer, and within two weeks the pain was gone. Two years later, I no longer needed the medication to keep it at bay.
My doctor was a lifesaver. He saw in me what no one had before — I wasn’t a broken person, I just had some mental health issues. The anxiety that had plagued me since childhood had finally overwhelmed my brain, and it manifested in debilitating stomach pain. In 2013, he diagnosed me with both Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and started me on Zoloft.
Girltalk HQ – “I Talk About My Debilitating Struggle With Anxiety To Educate People About Mental Illness” by Liz Greene
Actress Kristin Bell has also spoken out about her anxiety and depression. She describes herself as being overly bubbly and friendly to fight the struggle she has for acceptance. In an interview she talks about her mother being open with her about a family history of serotonin imbalance. Knowing that genetics played a role, Bell decided to take action.
“I also struggled a lot with anxiety and depression,” Bell states. “My mom sat me down when I was probably 18 and she said, ‘There is a serotonin imbalance in our family line and it can often be passed from female to female.’” In fact, electroshock therapy was tested on Kristen’s grandmother, who would lock herself in her bedroom and drink for days. Her loved ones would have to slide food under the door for her and this understandably devastated Kristen’s mom.
Though Bell’s mother had a rough time coping with her mother’s mental illness, that didn’t stop her from communicating with her own daughter about this important part of their lives. Kristen reveals, “[My mom’s] a nurse and she had the wherewithal to recognize that in herself when she was feeling it and when I was 18 said, ‘If you start to feel like you are twisting things around you, and you feel like there is no sunlight around you, and you are paralyzed with fear, this is what it is and here’s how you can help yourself.’”
Bipolar disorder is a severe mental health condition with symptoms that include manic or depressive episodes. Some even experience symptoms of both; being jumpy and energetic one moment then sad and withdrawn the next. With the range in mood swings and severity of the symptoms, bipolar disorder can often be misdiagnosed or mistaken for other conditions. Commonly, those with bipolar disorder may also be thought to have borderline personality disorder or major depressive disorder. With help from trained professionals, the correct diagnosis can make a bid difference in bipolar treatment and make living with the disorder more manageable. We touched on this topic in our post, You Didn’t Fail, You Were Misdiagnosed.
There are several celebrities in the spot light with bipolar disorder that have been open about their diagnosis. Singer Demi Lavato had a very public mental health crisis and it was only after attending a residential treatment program that she was able to get the right help she needed to live with bipolar disorder. She now speaks out about how the diagnosis made a great deal of sense to her after looking back on previous episodes. Other celebrities that also have sought treatment for bipolar disorder are Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy), Halsey, Charles Hamilton, Scott Stapp, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vivien Leight (Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind film). Actress Carie Fisher (Princess Leia, Star Wars film), has been very vocal about her struggle with drugs and alcohol and periods of manic behavior. By listing these examples, the objective is to give perspective as to who struggles with mental health conditions. Each of their stories is different; they discovered their struggle with mental health concerns at different times and in different ways. By learning more about each person’s discovery, hopefully the right people can understand in themselves what the cause of these behaviors can be and find help to make life more manageable.
By educating ourselves on mental health we can end the stigma surrounding it and get people help when they need it. Many people don’t talk about their feelings because we’ve made doing so seem trivial. Our brains are just as much a vital organ as is our heart. We talk about heart health with passion, so why not mental health?
Mental Health & Rehab
Amy Winehouse is probably the celebrity that most people think of when talking about rehab. Her lyrics spoke to many people that have faced the decision of going to a residential treatment facility; but even though many can relate, “rehab” is something that is necessary for those that are committed to a long term recovery plan. We’ve seen many young adults caught in the deluge of fame wind up in some sort of recovery program or residential treatment facility. From overdose to hitting rock bottom, there is a variety of reasons some one would choose to “go to rehab”. And yet when these events are reported in the media, it’s made out to be something so controversial. It is as if there is an audible ‘gasp’ when the headline is read.
Prescription drug abuse is another topic that is not talked about enough. Many people that live with chronic pain, injuries or go through a traumatic event find themselves becoming dependent on prescription drugs that were only meant to last a short time. Since a prescription comes from a doctor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can use them without consequence. These substances are powerful. Educating others on prescription drug abuse and the right ways to use these tools for recovery and then disposing of them safely can prevent others from finding ways to abuse medication. Schizophrenia and drug abuse are also closely related as those suffering from this severe mental health condition often use substances to self medicate.
The stigma surrounding rehabilitation and young adult addiction is one of the hardest to overcome. But as people look to better themselves, finding the right treatment for psychosis of any kind is one of the most responsible choices that can me made. There should be no shame in finding help, for any reason. Residential treatment, transitional treatment centers and outpatient programs can help give people the right support to stay the course of the process of recovery. For another example of a real-life recovery story, read the blog Voices of Hope : Chris’s Recovery Story.
While the stigma surrounding mental health is real, educating others and spreading the stories of people living with mental health conditions can help cure our societies negative undertone. Mental health is just as important as any other aspect of health. If you or some one you know is suffering and you don’t know what to do next, please give our team a call. There is hope, we can help: 888-358-8998