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!