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Mental Health Facts that you should Know

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Mental Health issue is often misunderstood or dismissed as fake or unscientific, and patients are thought of as faking or exaggerating their condition. While it’s definitely true that mental health is among the least understood fields of medicine, it’s also impossible to ignore mental illness, as anyone who has ever experienced or witnessed depression, anxiety, or any other mental condition will know.

That fact that we can’t observe something under the microscope doesn’t mean that it’s less real or serious, and we are firm believers that everyone will gain a lot from knowing more about mental health, especially since it’s so common.

Here are some facts about mental illness that you should know:

1. Mental health disorders are more common than you would think

We often think that mental health is something that affects others and couldn’t possibly be something we or our loved ones will face one day. And while that thought sure sounds comforting, in reality, mental illness is more common than you think. For one, the most common disorder is anxiety and panic disorder, with an estimated 18% of the population in the US alone suffering from the illness according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Of these, only 36% seek treatment, despite the fact that it’s among the most treatable mental health issues. According to MentalHealth.gov, 1 in 5 American adults had a serious mental health issue at some point in their lives, and 1 in 25 live with a major mental illness (e.g. bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression). Finally, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, taking twice as many lives as homicide each year.

2. It’s possible to prevent mental illness

It’s certainly true that there is a genetic and hereditary component to mental health problems, but these are only one of the contributing factors that make a person susceptible to specific mental illnesses. The remaining factors affecting mental health, such as trauma, a safe and supportive environment, a healthy diet, abstinence from alcohol and recreational drugs, and an active lifestyle are all environmental, and can be as important as the hereditary predisposition. That’s why it’s of key importance to raise children and adolescents in a safe and positive environment and prioritize a healthy lifestyle, especially if you know that a child is at risk of developing mental illness.

3. Weakness or strength of character has nothing to do with mental health

One common misconception about mental illness is that it stems from a lack of character and self-discipline, and if people suffering from a mental condition would try harder, they could be back to normal. This misconception stems from the belief that mental conditions originate from emotions, so, for example, a person who suffers from depression is just sad or lazy, or someone who is in mania is just hot-headed or angry. Unfortunately, things are not so simple, as no amount of self-discipline can undo the trauma or regulate the neurochemical disturbances in a person’s brain, both of which are major physical contributing factors of mental illness. For this reason alone, don’t demand from a person with a mental issue or from yourself to just snap out of it, seek professional help instead.

4. It’s possible to fully recover from mental illness

Another persistent misconception about mental illness is that it’s irreversible, meaning that a person suffering from mental health issues will never recover. This, too, isn’t true, and many patients recover completely or get much better if they get treatment and the social support they require. The likelihood of full recovery will depend on the type of condition, the stage of development of said condition, as well as the treatment and support the patient receives. That’s why it’s always good to turn to mental health professionals and seek treatment as soon as possible.

5. People suffering from mental illness can hold full-time jobs just like everyone else

Like we’ve mentioned previously, the number of people suffering from mental health issues is massive. In fact, nearly everyone will suffer from some kind of mental illness at some point in their lives, and as many as 1 in 10 young people have had major depression. Needless to say, most of these people have lives, families, and jobs. Many psychiatric patients are productive and manage to hold full-time jobs without frequent absenteeism and other negative side effects of their condition, given that they manage their condition. In addition, having a steady income and maintaining social activity has been found to be highly beneficial to persons suffering from mental health issues.

6. Children, as all other ages, can and do experience mental health issues

Many mental illnesses manifest themselves in the form of early signs and symptoms during childhood or youth, and there are a few disorders, such as autism, that begin in early childhood. It has been estimated that 50% of all mental illnesses exhibit the first symptoms before the age of 14, and 75% of them begin before the age of 24. It is unfortunate that most of these early symptoms don’t get the attention they require, and it is not until the illness reaches its developed stages that the patient seeks treatment. On the bright side, the statistics of the early diagnosis are improving, and an increasing number of patients have a better prognosis and have a chance for a better life as a result.

7. Stigma is one of the biggest issues for people with mental health problems

Social acceptance is incredibly important for anyone, really, so it’s not surprising that people suffering from mental health issues are often ashamed to discuss their condition with other people. Patients are afraid to be diagnosed because this may cost them their job, their family and their social circle. But the adverse effects of stigma related to the mental health field, in general, are a lot more far-reaching, as many patients refuse or deter the necessary treatment due to the fear of being labeled ‘crazy’ or ‘psycho’, which decreases their chance of full recovery. Acceptance and understanding from the patient’s social connections are key in helping their recovery and long term wellbeing, as well as preventing suicide.

8. Genetics alone cannot trigger mental illness

Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of mental conditions are not genetic, all of them are acquired, though some have a stronger genetic component than others. Even autism, the first symptoms of which are often exhibited as early as 8 months, occurs as a result of both genetic predisposition and abnormalities during pregnancy and childbirth, which makes autism an inborn, but not a genetic condition.

The genetic component for other mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, etc., is even smaller than that, and as a result, these conditions are preventable, much like many acquired physical conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cirrhosis or type 2 diabetes.

9. Exercise has a surprisingly beneficial effect on mental health

Many people underestimate the beneficial effect of good lifestyle changes on mental health. The reality is, however, that maintaining a physically and socially active life, having a healthy diet and even spending time in nature can help your symptoms. For one, exercise has been found to improve the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and ADHD, likely because it is known to relieve stress, boosts your mood and improves sleep. Needless to say, all of the activities and habits we mentioned are also good preventative methods.

10. Mental illness and intellectual disability or brain damage are not the same

This is another popular misconception, and we recognize where it comes from, as it often happens that people with brain damage or cognitive deficits have mental health issues, and it’s also the case that mental illness in its advanced stages can cause brain damage. What further complicates this question is that many brain disorders can be accompanied by psychotic episodes or mood disorders. For example, advanced Parkinson’s disease often causes hallucinations, delusions and psychosis. Still, this doesn’t mean that neurological and psychiatric illnesses are the same, it merely showcases that structural and functional changes in the brain influence our mental health.

11. Sleep deprivation affects mental health

We live in a society that often values productivity and hard work more than health. The truth is that by depriving yourself of sleep or sleeping too much, you can set yourself up for danger.

In fact, research from Harvard University has shown that 65–90% of adults with major depression also suffer from sleep problems. This is because REM sleep promotes learning, memory and emotional wellbeing, and the lack thereof, as the authors suggest, can worsen or even potentially trigger psychiatric illness. So, fluff up your pillows and have a good night’s sleep.

January 28, 2021
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Taking Care of your Thyroid!

The thyroid gland controls a lot of processes (including metabolism) in the body. When the thyroid doesn’t work properly it may produce more or fewer hormones than the body needs. In which case, you’ll likely notice unpleasant changes including sudden weight fluctuation, mood swings, skin issues, and breast cancer. Below are habits that can affect your thyroid.

1. You have too much stress in your life

Stress affects all of our bodily systems including the endocrine system in our body. If you are in a constant state of tension, your thyroid stops working properly, producing too much or too little hormones. If you have already experienced problems with your thyroid, stress may cause panic attacks or long-term memory loss. A lack of sleep and stressful work may be a cause. In fact, a hectic lifestyle may make you feel nervous constantly. So, to reduce the risks, it is recommended that you sleep enough, walk a lot and do exercises. If you’re feeling rather stressed, be sure to speak to a psychologist.

2. You don’t consume enough fats

When following a diet it is important to know which foods you should avoid. But, while a low-fat diet will help you lose weight, many people who opt for this method do not just stop consuming bad fats, but also the good ones – which is extremely important for our brain and thyroid. Good fats are found in olive and linseed oil, eggs, dairy products, meat, fish and wheat germ. It’s better to not stop eating these foods. In doing so, your diet will help you achieve positive results giving you a healthy body.

3. You eat too many soy-based products

Soybean contains a lot of useful microelements, vitamins and can replace animal products. However, it’s recommended that you do not eat too much food that contains soy as it will have a bad effect on your thyroid, making it work slower. When we eat a lot of soy-based products, the thyroid absorbs less iodine which is important to keep the thyroid working properly. So, how can this problem be avoided? The best way would be to reduce the amount of soy foods you eat, adding more products that contain iodine, including vegetables, berries, fruits, and seafood. Cranberry, shrimp, mussels, squid and sea fish are all beneficial for your thyroid.

4. You eat too many cruciferous vegetables

Scientists at the Oregon State University discovered that raw cruciferous vegetables affect the work of the thyroid. For this reason, it is not recommended that you eat a lot of cabbage, turnips, and radishes, particularly if you suffer from an iodine deficiency. This is because these products contain glucosinolates which contain nitrogen and sulfur – which is why the vegetables are slightly bitter. When these elements get inside the body they affect the thyroid, causing a goiter. For this reason, it’s better to eat vegetables like beets, tomatoes, and celery.

5. Smoking

Smoking not only affects our lungs – studies show that it is also bad for the thyroid. Tobacco slowly makes the thyroid produce more and more hormones, causing hyperthyroidism. What’s more, cigarettes contain toxins, taking our body six days to remove. At this point, the amount of iodine in the thyroid decreases. Here, the level of thyroid hormones in your blood rises, worsening the thyroid.

6. You consume too many products that contain caffeine

While it is fine to start your day with a cup of coffee, it isn’t a good idea to drink coffee too often as the caffeine increases the amount of cortisol in the body. Consequently, the stress hormone affects the thyroid, making our metabolism worse. Nevertheless, scientists still argue about the amount of coffee that won’t have an impact on your health – as it varies between 2 to 6 cups a day. 5fl oz of grain coffee contains 110-160mg of caffeine (depending on the type of coffee). Bear in mind that products like chocolate, coca cola, and energy drinks contain caffeine too.

7. You eat high glycemic index foods

The glycemic index is a ranking of carbohydrate foods based on their immediate effect on blood sugar levels. If you have a high glycemic index, it means that the process of breakdown is too quick. It is therefore important to pay attention to what you eat and keep your thyroid healthy. Products that contain high glycemic index include sweets, pastries, pasta, and white rice. These foods contain a huge amount of carbohydrates and they affect the process of iodine absorption. The iodine deficiency leads to thyroid issues. Of course, it is practically impossible to stop eating high glycemic index products, however, you can reduce the amount of them in your diet.

8. You consume butter and margarine

Butter is listed as a high-cholesterol food which affects the lipid balance and thus the thyroid. Despite this fact, it is not recommended that you stop eating animal fats. Butter is still a good source of selenium and vitamin D. It is better to control the amount of butter you eat. Margarine, on the other hand, is best avoided as it is made from trans fats which damage our endocrine and cardiovascular system, leading to obesity.

9. Alcohol abuse

Alcohol can increase or decrease the pancreatic secretions. Both may affect the body. Women start to experience menstrual problems, while men start suffering from low libido. Thyroid issues also have a negative impact on the vegetative nervous system, which may lead to tremors, tachycardia, bowel disorders, mood swings, and other unpleasant symptoms. If your thyroid doesn’t work properly and produces excess hormones, the process of dehydrogenase synthesis slows down. Consequently, the impact of alcohol on the body increases.

Source: Internet & Others

The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for a physician’s advice. Always make sure to seek a doctor or a professional’s advice before proceeding with the home treatment plan.

Author: TxNaturalPediatrics

By training, I am a American Board Certified Pediatrician. But in my younger years I grew up with natural alternatives. As a mom I have tried to incorporate both for my kids and it has worked wonders. And finally, as I am studying natural & alternative medicines, I realize the beauty and wisdom of living closer to earth. Hence in my practice I integrate both...for acute ailments I follow American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation but for simple and/or chronic conditions I prefer natural alternatives. In western training we were raised to think that "health is the absence of symptoms and problems". But eastern sensibilities has educated me that "Health is state that allows one to use the full capabilities of their body, mind and intellect. Therefore, healthy living is a balanced state of well being: physically, mentally, socially and spiritually." This implies that healing is not a "one-pill-fits-all", but a personalized experience.

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