May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s a chance to not only care more for our own mental health but also to raise awareness and lift each other up any way we can. It also intends to help break the stigma of mental illness and to encourage people to get the help they need. The results of a recent study show the coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on the mental health of many adults during the past year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people aged 18 and older, who were showing symptoms of anxiety disorder between January-June 2019 was 8.2%. Another 6.6% had symptoms of depressive disorder, and 11% had symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder. But according to a survey conducted during the second half of 2020, the numbers increased significantly. Roughly 30% of adults are experiencing some form of mental health difficulty.
A Harris Poll, conducted on behalf of the American Psychological Association, found similar results. Their researchers say that nearly 8 in 10 adults (78%) say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives.
So, Mental Health Awareness Month couldn’t have come at a better time. Let’s take a look at some of the signs of anxiety disorder and what you can do about it.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
According to the National Institutes of Health, generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include:
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and various phobia-related disorders.
The American Psychiatric Association defines mental illnesses as health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities. Mental illness is common.
The five main warning signs of mental illness are as follows:
The good news is that there are a number of treatment options available to help you keep your anxiety disorder from developing into a chronic mental illness.
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about 40% of those suffering receive treatment.
Anxiety disorders and mental illness, in general, can be treated with:
Psychotherapy- Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” can help you if you have an anxiety disorder. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is just one example. It teaches you different ways of thinking, behaving and reacting to anxiety-producing situations.
Medication- Medication does not cure anxiety disorders but can help relieve symptoms.
For example, anti-anxiety medications can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, or extreme fear and worry.
Support Groups- Some people with anxiety disorders might benefit from joining a self-help or support group and sharing their problems and achievements with others.
The status of your mental health is something that can be initially addressed with your physician at your annual exam. Making an appointment is the first step. You can also watch our video on “The Importance of Annual Exams.” In this video, Dr. Matthew Stevens talks about the importance of a regularly scheduled exam for your physical and mental health.