What is mental health anyway?
It is easily possible that you have noticed that more and more attention is being paid to the topic of mental health today. A topic that used to be something that was hardly talked about at all is constantly present in our lives today. Various blogs, portals, TV shows and many others regularly talk about the topic of mental health. But why is that? The modern way of life puts more and more pressure on our capabilities to cope with everyday life. With work, family obligations, paying bills, maintaining satisfactory relationships with others and the like, we have less and less time for ourselves and our own interests. This kind of pressure takes its toll over time, as evidenced by the fact that today more than 1/10 of the world’s population is struggling with some type of mental disorder. This is a figure that should worry us, and the situation becomes even worse if we take into account that people often keep silent about their psychological difficulties for fear of stigmatization, which we talked about last week. But mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders. When we talk about mental health we mean the general mental, emotional and behavioral well–being of the individual. A mentally healthy person is a person who can deal with everyday problems, can understand their full potential, contribute to the community and be productive.
Why does it matter at all?
But now that we know what mental health is, why does it matter at all? We cannot talk about health in general without including the idea of mental health. Impaired mental health negatively affects us, but also other people in our lives. A person who has impaired mental health functions worse in everyday life, is less productive, and long-term mental health problems are more often the cause of earlier death and the development of permanent physical illnesses than short-term physical illnesses. Mental health problems can also negatively affect social relationships and increase the risk of substance abuse, such as alcohol, medication and illegal drugs.
What are the most common mental health threats?
As we have already mentioned, impaired mental health will almost certainly negatively affect our daily lives and quality of life, but this relationship is not one-way and so simple. Living conditions, previous experiences, some biological factors, and even climate change can all affect mental health.
- Some people are simply more susceptible to certain mental health problems, such as poorer resistance to stress, greater propensity for anxiety, depression, and the like.
- Poverty, and financial difficulties in general, are one of the main causes of mental health problems. Financial problems are often a threat to our survival, and it is normal that they will negatively affect the mental well-being of the individual. People who are of poorer socioeconomic status, have poorer living conditions and are not included in the local community have a higher risk of developing psychological difficulties.
- Previous traumatic experiences can also make us more susceptible to mental health problems
- Constant exposure to stress, most often at work, depletes our capacity to cope with everyday life, and negatively affects mental health
- The presence of a permanent physical or mental illness will only increase our risk of other mental health problems
What problems do we face most often?
Although there are many psychological problems that we can encounter, some of them occur more often.
- Mood disorders imply constant changes in mood, ie the presence of extremely high (mania) or low (depression) mood. The most common is major depression, which results in loss of interest in various activities and life in general, and the frequent presence of extreme sadness.
- In bipolar disorder there is a constant cycling between depressive and manic episodes.
- Seasonal affective disorder is most often present in winter, late autumn and early spring, and its “trigger” is reduced sun exposure, ie the presence of shorter days
- Anxiety disorders are the most common threat to mental health. We all feel anxious at times, but when anxiety levels are constantly elevated, the presence of one of these disorders is possible. Generalized anxiety disorder results in persistently elevated levels of anxiety in almost all life situations. It is accompanied by tension, sleep problems, fatigue, etc.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder manifests as a constant presence of extremely stressful thoughts and a strong need to repeat certain simple actions, in order to “silence” those thoughts
- There are as many phobias as there are possible “triggers” for them, and they imply intense and irrational fear. They are usually simple and evolutionarily conditioned, such as fear of heights, spiders or snakes, but we still often encounter social phobia, ie the fear that others will judge everything we do, and agoraphobia, which occurs in situations when we feel like we are somewhere from which we will by no means be able to escape
- Panic disorder involves the regular presence of panic attacks that include intense fear and the feeling that something terrible is going to happen.
- Post–traumatic stress disorder may occur after experiencing a traumatic experience. We can recognize it by the constant presence of fight or flight reactions and the constant reliving of stressful events
There are countless challenges in mental health care, and help is sometimes difficult to come by. So in the following text we will talk about how to work on maintaining mental health.
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