Importance of Mental Health Awareness

It wasn’t too long ago in human history that mental health was poorly understood. Depression was just a matter of needing to make yourself happier, while other debilitating disorders like bipolar and schizophrenia were written off as someone being “crazy” and not worthy of society. We know much better now, but better mental health awareness is still needed. 

The truth is, mental health issues and disorders like addiction often go hand-in-hand. Sadly, there is a lingering negative stigma associated with both addiction and mental illnesses in modern-day society. As a result, the majority of people suffering from mental health issues do not receive the care and treatment they need. For many, this leads to unsafe self medication and trying to cope through drug and alcohol abuse. 

The good news is that spreading awareness and education about mental illnesses can help end the stigma. And by better understanding mental illnesses and their effect on the human body and behavior, we can work to treat them and better the lives of people everywhere. 

Taking Mental Health Seriously 

A mental illness isn’t just feeling sad or anxious — it is a physical illness manifested in the brain that can affect a person’s ability to function and lead a normal, healthy life. We still have a lot to learn about mental illnesses, but modern research has revealed that they are most commonly the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. Other contributing factors are genetics, brain structure, trauma, and even other health conditions. 

When mental illnesses are left untreated, they can lead to unhealthy behavior (like drug abuse and addiction) and also result in poor work or school performance, feelings of suicide and social struggles. Many people with undiagnosed mental disorders also rack up high medical bills from self harm or even physical symptoms that are reminiscent of other illnesses. 

Common Mental Illnesses 

There are more than 200 different kinds of classified mental illnesses. However, there are two classes of mental illnesses that are particularly common and have a close correlation with drug abuse and addiction:

  • Anxiety Disorders Anxiety disorders manifest themselves in many forms, including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder and intense phobias.
  • Mood Disorders – Depression is one of the most common mood disorders and can have debilitating effects on sufferers when left untreated. Another common mood disorder is bipolar disorder (including bipolar depression), characterized by intense mood swings and challenges in keeping mood regulated.

Now, it’s important to know that just getting diagnosed with a mental illness does not automatically mean you are going to start engaging in substance abuse. Instead, it’s best to avoid using substances and seek professional treatment for your mental illness to prevent an addiction from forming. 

Promoting Good Mental Health

Spreading awareness about mental health and the benefits of treating its disorders is the first line of defense in the battle against mental illness. However, there are many other things you can do to look after your own mental health and decrease the chances of developing mental illness:

  • Get plenty of sleep – Underlying mental illness can be significantly worsened when lack of sleep is involved. 
  • Exercise regularly – Exercise will not only help keep your body healthy; it also releases energizing endorphins. This natural hormone helps stabilize your mood. 
  • Work out your brain – Just as it’s important to keep your muscles limber, it’s important to keep your brain sharp. Research has shown that reading and doing activities that involve critical thinking (like puzzles) help keep cognitive thinking clear and can help prevent mental illnesses from forming.
  • Eat a balanced diet – Practicing good nutrition goes a long way in keeping your mood regulated and cognitive thinking clear. Making sure you are meeting your daily vitamin needs will also help.
  • Get plenty of Vitamin D – Make sure you are spending time outdoors and in the sunshine for a natural source of Vitamin D for a mood booster. Fresh air and brightness have also been shown to help keep your brain’s chemistry regulated. 
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs and smoking – Research has shown that even small amounts of alcohol, drugs and smoking can have a negative effect on mood. 
  • Maintain your social life – Having good relationships with family and friends is crucial in keeping yourself in a good place mentally. Though everyday life is often busy, try to set some time aside each week to spend with the people you care about. 

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment Works for Both Mental Health and Addiction

At Principles Recovery Center in Davie Florida, we understand the close link between mental illness and addiction. This is why we offer dual-diagnosis treatment, which focuses on assessing and treating both mental health and addiction at the same time. By doing so, we can get to the source of the addiction problem and greatly reduce the risk of future relapse. 

Neither mental illnesses nor substance abuse discriminates among demographics or social backgrounds. Our family-focused treatment program offers services to people from backgrounds, and we believe in the importance of spreading awareness among all. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our program! 

Addiction Recovery & Gratefulness: Why The Two Go Hand In Hand

The pursuit of sobriety is often the pursuit of happiness. While the early focus of addiction treatment is to get through detox and stop using the substance, addiction recovery then transforms into a quest for a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Every recovery path is different, and the steps towards happiness and contentment in your own life will be tailored to your own needs and experiences. That said, one way that can help get you there faster is the ability to practice gratitude.

Practice Gratitude for a Change of Perspective

Addiction recovery comes with various challenges, so being told you should be grateful may come across as a bit silly at first. However, practicing gratitude regularly can actually change your perspective on the recovery process and even make staying sober an easier process. It all starts with knowing what to be grateful for each day.

While you can always be grateful for your home and your possessions, real happiness comes from being appreciative for the deeper things in life. It is up to you to decide what means the most to you, but just being in your current position means you already have at least a couple things to be grateful for. And it goes far beyond just saying “thank you” when someone does you a favor.

For example, very few people — if any — manage to overcome addiction and reach sobriety all on their own. As you are learning to navigate your life in recovery, it’s important to appreciate and acknowledge all of those who have helped you along the way. While you may not be in a position to actively thank them every day, you can still adopt a grateful mindset for having such a wonderful support network.

It’s also worth being grateful just for being in addiction recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that there are more than 22 million people in the U.S. suffering from addiction, yet less than 20 percent of them manage to seek treatment. Just the fact that you are on a sober path is gratitude-worthy!

How Gratitude Fits in With Addiction Recovery

Live each day with an attitude of gratitude, and happiness will swiftly follow.

This isn’t just an anecdotal statement. A recent Harvard Medical School study found that people who regularly expressed gratitude in everyday life were generally happier and even had healthier relationships than those who did not. The study’s participants also expressed greater life satisfaction and contentment. This is important for addiction recovery, because all of these feelings are crucial to fading the desire to abuse substances.

Likewise, expressing gratitude to others has also been shown to increase levels of dopamine and serotonin. These brain chemicals are what make us naturally feel joy, and higher levels of both have an inverse correlation with drug abuse. Basically, a life of gratitude gives you a more positive outlook on your new life in recovery and makes you less likely to relapse.

Grow Feelings of Gratitude

Living a grateful life does not always come easy. But you’ve tackled substance abuse and made it to addiction recovery — you’ve got this! Here are some tips to help you grow your feelings of gratitude and appreciate everyday life:

  • Talk to others about things they’re grateful for – Getting perspective from others can be a great way to take a step back and see the things that you can be appreciative of. Try bringing it up in group therapy or in other settings where you may be around people who have been in your shoes.
  • Practice regular meditationLearning to meditate will help keep you grounded and more in tune with life’s beauty.
  • Keep a gratitude journal – Try to write an entry every day for things you are grateful for. You can also use this journal to help track your addiction recovery progress.
  • Make an effort to thank people – Making an effort each day to thank the people around you for things (even the smallest of favors) will not only help you build up your grateful attitude, but will help make up for the times during your addiction when you may have not thanked them enough.

We Can Help

Whether you are actively looking for an addiction treatment program or you’d simply like to learn more about gratitude and how it fits with sobriety, contact our team at Principles Recovery Center. Our rehab facility in Davie, Florida helps individuals from all walks of life become sober and build a life in recovery to be proud of.