Category Archives: Anxiety and Mental Help Tips

What is Mental Health – Key Concepts in Mental Health

Definition

Mental health is defined as a state or condition on which an individual feels a sense of well-being. This gives him or her the capacity to live life in fulfillment of what he or she wants to achieve in accordance to the available resources.

This condition also provides an individual the capacity to be resilient to the stresses he meets and to respond to these challenges without having to compromise his well- being. This also makes him productive and fruitful for himself and his community.

Mental wellness could also be defined as the lack of mental problems or disorders. People who do not present diagnosable behaviors that could qualify as a mental disorder are seen as mentally healthy. For example, someone who has an obsession on things may not necessarily have a mental disorder like obsession.

Thus he is said to have mental wellness. But when this obsession is combined with unrelenting compulsion to do the object of obsession, the person may already be diagnosed with a mental disorder called Obsessive-compulsive Disorder or OCD.

It could also be seen as a positive element in an individual’s personality which makes it possible to enhance mental wellness regardless of a diagnosable mental disorder.

This definition covers a person’s capacity to “live life to the fullest”, to respond well to his environment through the conscious or unconscious use of coping mechanisms and to be able to balance emotional as well as psychological well-being in relation to constant flow of experiences.

Mental Health Across Culture

The World Health Organization believes that there is no single definition for mental health due to differences in culture. What could be mentally healthy (or acceptable behavior) in one culture may present something too eccentric in another.

For example, cannibalistic behavior in some tribes living in remote areas is highly regarded as a religious practice however, in the majority of urbanized world this could be seen as barbaric or insane.

Disruption in Mental Health

Abnormalities in mental health could lead to a number of problems with various representations. Some people with mental illnesses have aggressive behaviors while others are withdrawn and lack social interest.

Each type of disorder has its own signs and symptoms therefore; diagnosis as well as treatment vary depending on the nature of the mental heath problem.

There are several factors that disrupt mental health including: environment or upbringing, biological make-up of a person, pre-programmed instructions in the genes, medical disorders, traumatic experiences such as loss and abuse and substance abuse.

While one factor could be dominant than the other, all of these are contributors to the development of the majority of mental health disorders.

In some cases, a single factor may be sufficient to trigger the disorder but the majority of disorders require an accumulation of experience that constantly challenge the well-being of a person.

What preserves mental health?

The preservation of mental health is highly dependent on the capacity of the person to

  • blend in his environment and handle its stresses
  • achieve a good internal balance in his personality that is sufficient to give a stable character and
  • create a good perspective that would limit the damages of negative experiences.

For some people a good support system such as a sympathetic family or a strong social group may work well to safeguard mental health.

The Most Common Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors

When people are obsessed at avoiding being dirty or contaminated, they frequently wash their hands and feet, clean and bathe their bodies.

They do not feel comfortable about bodily waste and urinating because these procedures are often disgusting to look at or experience.

They also feel extremely and unreasonably anxious about contracting dreadful illnesses in almost any setting.

Some people always want to live in extremely neat surroundings. While they’re not that obsessed about getting sick from dirt, they do care very much about their appearances.

They always want to look and feel clean. They are perfectionists when it comes to ordering and aligning objects. They can spend hours just to obtain the precise positioning of their things.

Some people become obsessed about saving things for future use are incapable of throwing any object, even a piece of candy wrapper, in fear of throwing something that could prove useful or necessary in the future.

These people are uncaring about the neatness of their surroundings or the order of their possessions. All they care to do is stash everything they can. People suffering from this particular OCD may also be meticulous about that object goes where.

A person may develop OCD symptoms on certain habits or actions for no reason at all. When this happens, they become obsessed at performing these tasks over and over.

It could be something as silly as repeating questions several times or counting money repeatedly before handing it over.

With proper therapy, affected individuals will learn to cope with OCD symptoms and accept that the disorder is there to stay until an effective cure is created. As a last note, you must keep in mind that an individual can develop OCD symptoms about anything.

Hence, lists of OCD symptoms will only give you at best an idea of general areas that individuals may have OCD tendencies about.

Symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder

During World War Two, a strange phenomenon called “Battle Fatigue” affected many veterans after they returned home from combat zones in Europe and the Pacific.

Today, we know this condition to be “post-traumatic stress disorder“. Back then, returning veterans didn’t talk about it, because discussing these worrisome symptoms suggested weakness or cowardice.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a medical disorder that can occur to anyone after experiencing an extremely stressful situation.

Soldiers aren’t the only ones to suffer from this condition. Natural disaster survivors, as well as those who have experienced and survived attacks and accidents, also suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. Twice as many women are affected than men.

A victim may experience one of many symptoms: A flashback or nightmare, a feeling of detachment, loss of interest in activities or a lack of positive emotion, avoidance of anything (activities, people or situations) associated with the trauma, difficulty sleeping, irritability and exaggerated responses to being startled.

Many people exhibit roller coaster feelings or emotions after a traumatic experience, but for most, such symptoms normally fade after a few weeks.

Nevertheless, recognizing the early signs and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder is important, as it can incur long-lasting consequences for those who suffer from it.

Physiological changes that occur in victims have a brutal affect on both neurobiological functions such as memory, as well as fear-response reactions.

Sleeping habits and the ability to deal with any stress can be disrupted. Physical complaints can range from headaches, to immune system disruption, debilitating pain, and in some cases, asthma.

Depression and a sense of growing anxiety can lead to phobias, panic attacks and behavioral changes. If you feel that someone you know is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s extremely important that he or she get help. It will not go away by itself.

Understanding Single Parent Psychology and Mental Health

Extramarital pregnancy, divorce, and abandonment of one parent are some reasons why there are single parents. What most people don’t know is, these occurrences are life-changing as they can be traumatic for the single parent and the child, making them often misunderstood. That makes the study of a single parent’s psychology and mental health important.

Studies have reported that there are more child and adolescent problems for households with single parents rather than those with the “normal” set-up. While most single parents may disagree, it is understandable why the statistics say so.

For one, a single parent has limited time in his hands. Managing a household with another person is difficult in itself. What more if you have to do it alone. That’s why it is important for a single parent to make a daily or weekly schedule of his activities. That way, he can find time to do all the things that need to be done, including some time off for leisure and relaxation.

Also, a parent may have financial problems, as he is the only one earning for the family. He must learn to save his money by learning to set aside a portion of it as it comes. Also, he must learn to make a few sure investments.

Of course, if one becomes a single parent because of a divorce or death of the spouse, there are more problems that he needs to face. It is normal for him to feel sad or depressed, so allow him to have some time to grieve. Friends can help in the moving on process. This is also devastating for the child, so the parent must learn to show his support to the child instead of focusing on his grief alone. Parent and child can help each other to shorten grieving time.

Lastly, the single parent may feel alone and rejected. So he must learn to nurture himself. Eat and sleep well. Exercise on a regular basis, or engage in a sport that you like. Join a church group or association in your community.

To minimize incidence of child problems like school dropouts, early pregnancy and juvenile behavior, a single parent must learn to communicate well with his child. Spend more quality time with him. Engage in an activity that you both can enjoy. Regularly monitor his progress in school.

What resources are available for the single parent? He may join a group or organization of single parents like him. In this venue, members can share and discuss their common problems and experiences such as coping with divorce and raising kids. Educational activities like lectures by professionals and training seminars as well as other recreational activities are organized to help the single parent cope with his situation.

There are also websites which support single parents. Many parent resources can be found in the internet like chat rooms, forums, newsletters, articles and other forms of literature that they can share.

Knowing single parent psychology and mental health will make us understand single parents and their children better. Being a single parent is a challenging job. With limited time and finances, he has to cope with the challenge of raising a child as well. But with tolerance and understanding from people around him, the job will not be as difficult as it is already.

3 Major Focuses of Recovery for Optimized Mental Health

Focus on the Individual

The focus of recovery should be on the person or the individual and not the process of treatment. There is a constant shift in the manners by which people suffering from psychological disorders are being treated.

During the past centuries, due partly to the drive to establish more reliable and effective treatment methods, most mental health professionals fail to focus on the process occurring in a patient, the changes he is undergoing throughout the treatment and the improvements that are associated with the treatment.

Instead, the common point for most practitioners is the process of treatment itself- whether or not one treatment is more effective than the other or whether or not a specific therapy could actually work for all patients.

It is a good thing that mental illnesses are viewed now from the sufferer’s perspectives rather than the technicalities of the treatment or therapy. Individuals have various presentations of a mental disorder. Thus needing individualized forms of recovery treatments that are curtailed to the person’s preferences, unique characteristics such as resiliency, strengths and weaknesses, cultural background and experiences.

Focus on the Community

It should be grounded on peer support – External support is invaluable in the process of recovery. Knowing that there are other people who, like the patient, also struggle to achieve the state of well being they want to achieve. It helps for them to know that there are people who cares for them, who wants to see them gain back their life and who shares the same sufferings as they do.

There should exist a mental health support group that would guide and enlighten the patients with the reality of the psychological disorder. This also provides the mutual support that is needed in gaining skills and knowledge on the disorder which is a contributory factor towards improvement.

Focus on Issues Surrounding Mental Wellness

It should be well-directed – A direction set by both the mental health providers and the patient should be prepared during the initial stage of recovery. The patient determines the pace of healing while the mental health professional facilitate the direction.

It should be non-linear – This perspective adheres to the belief that a recovery process is both an end and a process. It is not the usual step-by-step process that has varying levels. In mental health recovery, it is possible that a person who has already overcome the symptoms of a mental disorder could still be troubled by the relapse of the same symptoms. It is, in fact, a trial-and-error process with the promise of development and usual setbacks.

It should be holistic – The concept of holism should be fully integrated into the process of recovery. Recovery from a mental disorder does not only cover specific and separate issues like biological or psychosocial aspects of the disorder. Instead, it affects a person in an extensive manner. Thus recovery should also focus on the micro as well as macro issues surrounding the disorder.

Lastly, the process of recovery should be empowered by hope matched by the motivation and willingness to break free from the mental illness. This could only be achieved when all individual factors – the perspective of the individual and the direction he is taking, the support of external groups such as the family and peers and the right frame of mind.

Mental Health – Not Just the Absence of Mental Disorders

Most people think that mental health only applies to those people who have diagnosable mental disorders. The truth is ALL of us should be concerned about our mental health. It is our basis of being healthy. It is the holistic approach to health.

In fact, many people adhere to the belief that mental health is the core of healthiness. Health starts and ends with mental health. It encompasses everything and it is everybody’s business.

For virtually all people, mental health is often neglected until something apparently becomes wrong. Until then, we will have to wait for signs that it is vital to our existence, to our well being, to our relationships with other people, to our perceptions, to our fulfillment and even to our own happiness.

Even though we have achieved great medical advancements, there still seems to be lacks in our general knowledge on mental health. We have developed quick fixes to our physical ailments but we are left far behind with our solutions to mental illnesses.

If we have anything, there still remain some loopholes and what we know is inconclusive. We haven’t developed universal treatments for psychological disorders and even assessments and diagnosis of such ailments are flawed.

In the past, the general concept for being healthy is the “absence of disease“. If so, then someone who doesn’t have diagnosable heart attack but experience irrational fear on something like chicken or heights is a healthy person. In fact, no.

While blood pressure, cholesterol level, and body temperature are easy to asses these are still seen as singular components of our health. Disruptions in these mechanisms mean that a person could be physically ill.

However, the health of a person is not only associated to how well his body functions but also to how well are his psychological, emotional and social dispositions.

Manifestations of mental illness are much harder to asses since most symptoms occur discreetly during the developmental stages of the disorders and internal states are dependent on the subjective nature of the disorder.

For example, someone who usually feels “blue” may or may not be diagnosed with depression.

We also have to take into account the social aspect of mental health. People who have sickness have more obvious manifestations that they are ill, therefore the society and immediate environment could easily identify whether or not a person is sick.

For mental health, however, ignorance could lead to wrong perceptions. For example, a teenager who became drug-dependent and later committed suicide is viewed as irresponsible and desperate when in fact he may be suffering from a psychological disorder.

A simplistic definition to mental health could be “successful mental functioning“. But what are the parameters of this definition? What could possibly tell us that someone is struggling through mental illness?

  • Someone who is distressed for a prolonged period without apparent, logical reason.
  • Someone who has disruptions in thinking
  • Someone who has altered behaviors and moods
  • Someone who relies on substances such as drugs, alcohol and cigarettes may have issues on their mental health
  • Someone who has impaired social functions

These are just representations of how a person with mental health may behave. However, these are not conclusive bases.

As we may yet to understand, mental health is directly correlated with physical ailment or health. Both may be one and the same but are very different in nature.

Expressive Therapies in Mental Health

Many people who are diagnosed with mental issues show an extreme liking for or talent in the creative arts. It only makes sense that some of the alternative treatments incorporate this natural tendency. Below I cover three such alternative treatments. Often each is combined with more traditional methods, but not always.

Art Therapy: Drawing, painting, and sculpting help many people to reconcile inner conflicts, release deeply repressed emotions, and foster self-awareness, as well as personal growth.

Some mental health providers use art therapy as both a diagnostic tool and as a way to help treat disorders such as depression, abuse-related trauma, and schizophrenia. You may be able to find a therapist in your area who has received special training and certification in art therapy.

Dance/Movement Therapy: Some people find that their spirits soar when they let their feet fly. Others-particularly those who prefer more structure or who feel they have “two left feet”-gain the same sense of release and inner peace from the Eastern martial arts, such as Aikido and Tai Chi.

Those who are recovering from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse may find these techniques especially helpful for gaining a sense of ease with their own bodies. The underlying premise to dance/movement therapy is that it can help a person integrate the emotional, physical, and cognitive facets of “self.”

Music/Sound Therapy: It is no coincidence that many people turn on soothing music to relax or snazzy tunes to help feel upbeat. Research suggests that music stimulates the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals (opiates and endorphins).

This stimulation results in improved blood flow, blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing, and posture changes. Music or sound therapy has been used to treat disorders such as stress, grief, depression, schizophrenia, and autism in children, and to diagnose mental health needs.

Exercise and Mental Health – Are There Connections

We all know that exercise promotes healthier body and better sense of well-being. It boosts confidence for people who need newer self image while it prevents the aggravation of physical illnesses for some. While nearly all of the research on exercise is focused on demonstrating positive effects on the physical body, there is a growing mass of research that seeks to prove that exercise is good for mental health as well.

A study conducted by the researchers from the Duke University along with other similar studies proved that exercise could help treat depression for 60{07965d1a73f172391d248434f2d27e2a2315fb5c95eb3ba6629368cfee7d254a} of all the participants. This result is similar with the total number of participants who are using medications for their treatment from depression.

However, you don’t have to be a sufferer of a mental illness before you benefit from exercise. You can boost your sense of well-being while walking on the treadmill or by combining yoga and meditation. In a way, exercise could be used as a potential medium for preventing the development of psychological and emotional conditions.

There are three dimensions at which we could look at when examining the benefits of exercise in the mental wellness of a person. Among the less well known is the biological aspect.

One theory suggests that physical workout or exercise could stimulate a part of the brain to release endorphins. Activities that are more likely to trigger the release of endorphins are swimming, cross-country skiing, running, bicycling, aerobics and sports like soccer, football and basketball.

Endorphins are comparable to opiates in a way that they resemble morphine. Endorphins could work in two ways- as a pain reliever (which is produced in response to the stresses brought about by physical work or stress) and as an enhancer of well-being. There are, however, no definite data that could support this claim.

On the other hand, exercise is also found to trigger the release of hormones norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. All these are known to help improve mood and is actually the main effect of Prozac, a known antidepressant.

Increase in these hormones could be best observed in a condition known as “runner’s high”. This feeling during after an acute exercise is directly linked to the increased number of the said hormones. However, there are still no conclusive studies proving that improvements on mood could be facilitated for a longer period of time.

Another is the physiological aspect. Nearly all of the feelings we associate with mental wellness come from our personal evaluation of the way our body feels. Say for instance, if you perceive a stomach pain as a form of stress then you will feel stressed (and sometimes even depression) every time your stomach aches. Likewise, exercise could render feelings such as muscle relaxation and easier breathing which we associate with “feeling better”. While this correlation is yet to have a better scientific grounding, we still could not deny the fact that muscle tension and increased blood flow go together with physical fitness.

No one knows yet how exactly exercise affects mental health. But it is common among patients to view exercise as a good medium to elevate their moods. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Charity Mind nearly two-thirds of all people who said that they use exercise to relieve symptoms of stress and depression believe that exercise actually works for them. The scientific community is yet to understand how this happens though and for now, it remains a truth that people benefit from exercise for mental health.

Telling Your Family About A Mental Health Issue

Due to the many stigma attached to mental health issues, it can sometimes be hugely difficult for a sufferer to confide in individuals about their condition. They may feel that their confession will be laughed off as being all in the mind, or that it will change the way people look at them. In many cases the fear will be disproportionate to reality – but then, this is how mental health issues affect people.

There is a traditional opinion that mental health issues are somehow less serious than physical conditions. Because a physical condition is usually something that can be seen, there is a tendency to rate them as being more serious than mental health issues. But depression, OCD, SAD and others have affected people so badly that they kill themselves – so it is only right that they are treated seriously too.

In most cases, the anxiety over telling a family member of a mental health condition will be misplaced. They will be concerned for the sufferer and want them to get better. As yet, widespread understanding of mental health issues is not uniformly great, and it may take more explanation than a physical condition. However, in the end the family member will want their brother, son, wife or other family member to feel better, and will learn what they can to help them.

Aside from this, a family has a right to know that their relative is ill. They would be horrified if the secret went to the grave and they had not had a chance to help. It may be difficult to face up to, but telling family is important.

Can Herbal Medicine Cure Anxiety Problems?

In the late 1980s to the early 1990s, the world went mad for Prozac. Everyone, seemingly, was on the most famous anti-depressant of them all… until a few, select clinical studies showed it could actually worsen symptoms. Even though expert doctors tried to stress that Prozac was completely safe in all but a few cases (as with any drug), the damage was done – drugs for mental health problems are still distrusted by many to this day.

This leads many people suffering from depression or anxiety problems to turn their backs on conventional medicines, and seek out a herbal solution. There are some famous remedies touted, the most famous of which being St. John’s Wort as an aid for both depression and anxiety problems. Anxiety specifically has the famous Rescue Remedies, based on herbal ingredients, which claim to calm and soothe the user when ingested.

So do they work? Well, yes and no. For a start, with any medicine, herbal or otherwise, there is a placebo element that must be considered. If someone with an anxiety problem is told that Rescue Remedy will absolutely, undoubtedly help them, they may believe it will help so much that it actually does. While the medicine itself has not helped, the effect is the same – mind over medical matter, almost.

Bearing this in mind, it is important to say there is no firm, clinical evidence that St. John’s Wart or anything other herbal remedy can help with an anxiety problem. There is certainly no physiological evidence. It would appear your money is best spent on therapies and psychiatric understanding, though there is no reason not to give a herbal remedy a try once in awhile.

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