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Mental health vs. physical health

Why should taking care of your mind carry such a negative stigma?

By Alex Farmer
On February 26, 2014

There is a terrible misconception amongst most people and especially those who live in the South.
People tend to believe that mental health isn't deserving of recognition because the only type of illness we experience is physical.
Unfortunately, that isn't true.
Mental stability and health are just as important, if not more, as physical health.
In today's hustle-and-bustle society, we tend to overlook this and people have yet to understand that everything isn't as simple as "just get over it."
That is why this matter is important. Everybody can't "just get over it."
Mental disorders are common. There are many different categories of them with many different levels of severity.
If you don't believe they are common, it is estimated that 26 percent of Americans suffer from a mental disorder.
That really stands out when you compare it to the fact that only about 20 percent of Americans suffer from the flu each year.
Although there are many different mental illnesses, I want to focus on mood disorders.
A mood disorder is the elevating or lowering of a person's mood for an extended period of time.
This is found in depression and bipolar disorder. It is estimated that 20.9 million Americans suffer from some type of mood disorder.
From that number, 14.8 million are thought to have major/clinical depression, which is extremely serious.
It is easy for a person without depression to think the disorder doesn't exist and that it is "just all in a person's head."
Actually, they are right about it being in the head but wrong that there isn't a problem.
Our brains are the most complex things on the planet, and depression is in the brain just like all other thoughts and feelings that we have.
I feel it necessary to point that out because we tend to sometimes say something is "just in our heads."
Even though it is accurate, we say it without really understanding its meaning or significance.
Everything we feel, think, say or do stems from our brain.
That is such an important thing to realize when understanding mental disorders.
We do what our brains tell us, and that is no different with someone who is depressed.
Their brains still tell them what to do even though they are chemically different.
Brain chemistry isn't the same with everybody, and in some people it causes mood disorders.
That, however, doesn't mean they are inadequate as a person.
It simply means that they need a little more help to "just get over it."
Overall, everybody finds themselves feeling down at one time or another.
However, once they get over that feeling, they may see depression as no big deal.
The problem is they may not have experienced true depression but rather just sadness.
The starting point in differentiating the two is in the feelings and the amount of time having them.
An intense sadness while feeling helpless, hopeless and worthless for many days or weeks that keeps a person from functioning normally describes a potential depression diagnosis.
However, depression has many more symptoms and doesn't affect everyone the same way.
The good news is there are treatments for mental disorders.
Medication and psychotherapy are two common regimens and both have great success once a person finds the right combination.
Also, if these don't work, electroconvulsive therapy can be performed.
I say all of this in order to make a very important point.
Mood disorders and other mental illnesses are real, common and nothing to be embarrassed about.
As a psychology major, I realize that mental health is crucial in order to live happily. If you get the flu, you don't get embarrassed and stay home; you go see a doctor.
That is because you know you are sick and need help.
The same attitude should be applied to mental illness as well.
Furthermore, we go see a doctor or dentist for regular physical check-ups.
This should also be the case with a psychologist and mental check-ups.
I have never been diagnosed with any type of mental illness, but I still see a professional to make sure my mental health is in order.
There is always help and a solution when you seek them.
Don't ever feel left out or not worthy because of a mental problem.
Be honest with yourself that you need help, and do whatever it takes to get it. You owe that to yourself.
After all, you only get one life to live and it should be lived healthy and happily.

As always, follow me on Twitter @GatorZ25 and let me know what you thought about the article or what you want to see in future issues. Stay safe and God Bless!

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