Mental Health Stigma

 

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ONE IN SIX AMERICAN PEOPLE SUFFER FROM ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION

Anxiety and Depression are the most common mental health disorders in the United States. It is estimated that approximately ten percent of teenagers and forty percent of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder of some kind.

This means that almost half of all Americans experience an anxiety problem at some point in their lives, yet it is estimated that only one third of all of those who are suffering from anxiety or depression are receiving treatment.

The stigma that surrounds depression and anxiety disorder holds people back from reaching out for help, in fear of being judged or scaring off loved ones. While mental health is an important issue, it is a topic that remains hush-hush and highly misunderstood by the majority of the population. People feel too scared or ashamed to reach out to friends and family, or to seek help from their primary care provider. Even if they do receive help, they are not likely to let people know that they are on a medication, have received a diagnosis, or are receiving therapy. This still brings about feelings of isolation, and a lack of much needed social support.

If you suffer from a mental health issue, this is something that you are all too familiar with. If you suffer from depression, you likely keep it to yourself and try to blend in as “normal”, until an episode becomes noticeable to others. Perhaps you have become distant or lost interest in things you once loved. Perhaps you find that you are having to lie to your employer in order to take mental health days off of work,  (Yes I know, I’ve done it) and a family member or friend hits you with “You should just cheer up!” and you shoot them that sarcastic look that says “Thanks so much! I’m all better now”

Perhaps you suffer from anxiety and try your best to be high- functioning. Most days you do well, but right in the middle of having an enjoyable outing with friends, it strikes. There is no particular reason. But you need to go home, NOW. So, you try to politely find a way out of the situation without having to explain that you have anxiety, or else you will hear “What are you so worried about? You should calm down” Yes, you know the drill.

As a person who suffers from severe anxiety disorder and who is also a mental health professional, I have unique insight to both sides of the coin. My profession has been liberating in a large way, because I felt like I finally came out of hiding.

And guys, sometimes it is still hard.

I know how it is to not be able to find the right words. I know how it is to be told that I worry too much, to just stop doing nervous habits that I could not stop doing, to be told to cheer up, to isolate myself from friends and family… and have no one bother to check on me. I’ve been there, and I understand your experiences better than most.

You know that beautiful feeling of when the anxiety attack lifts its weight from your shoulders, and for a time, you feel like you again? It’s like you were trapped under a rock and someone finally lifted it up off of you, setting you free to breathe fresh air.

Depression and anxiety can create utter chaos on everyday activities such as driving, shopping, working, or spending time with loved ones. Things that were once normal all become extremely complex and require extra attention. Routine tasks take more effort to complete because you might have to force yourself out of bed, or will not be able to concentrate on the task at hand.

Your mental health impacts your physical health, too. It’s not in your head.

Physical symptoms of anxiety include muscle aches and tension, headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. The repetitive stress on the body has adverse effects on appetite and libido. Prolonged anxiety has even been shown to increase risk of heart problems and stroke.

Mental health, IS A PART OF YOUR HEALTH

Do not ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Talk about your depression like it’s a broken arm. (No-one would tell you to just get over a broken arm) Talk about your anxiety like it’s a cold you can’t seem to shake off. Your mental health condition should be treated like any physical ailment. Talk about it, because it is a part of who you are. I refuse to hide, I will not support the stigma.

I Am One in Six

I would love to hear your stories and offer support, feel free to comment or reach out to me at bvargo02@baker.edu Also feel free to email me and say hello, or request a blog post topic.

2 thoughts on “Mental Health Stigma

  1. Thank you for this post! It is always so great to see other people who are not afraid of being outright about their mental health. So many times throughout my experience I have talked about needing to take a “personal day” and receiving backlash. Many people simply do not see the validity in mental illness or mental health.

    Like

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