One of the many annual celebrations that the modern society has placed into calendar is a Mental Illness Awareness month (click here). The purpose of which is to spread awareness and cascade information about mental awareness as this is among the top causes of death. However, we should not just spread awareness of and be conscious about mental health issues for only a single month each year. Mental illness is a year-round thing. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, background or walk in life, any time and day of the year. It affects how a person thinks, acts, behaves, and his interaction with others. It is a silent killer in today’s world.

The most common forms of mental illness are anxiety and depression. These two can occur in one patient at the same time, but they show different reactions.

Depression and Anxiety Disorders

Depression is a feeling of sadness, loneliness, and fear. When you lose a loved one, it is normal to feel scared, lonely, and sad. But if these low moods persist and seems to increase in severity, there is a chance that one is indeed suffering from depression. Men and women show different manifestations of depression.

In men, it is more of anger, irritability, tiredness, display of reckless behavior, alcohol and/or drug abuse; and they do not accept or recognize the fact that they are going through depression and need help. Women, most often, display sadness, worthlessness, and unexplained guilt. In young children this is manifested by separation anxiety, worrying about their parents dying, and refusal to attend school; while teenagers manifest with irritability, getting into trouble in school or in the society, and they sulk. Older adults when depressed, they do not accept the fact that they are sad or anxious and tend to hide medical illnesses – this contributes more to the depression.

How do you distinguish people with depression from people with anxieties?

Anxiety is different from depression in some ways. General anxiety disorder has the following symptoms: excessive worrying; easily fatigued; difficulty in concentrating; irritability; restlessness in sleep or sleeping disorder; and tension in the muscles.

People with depression are more sluggish, moves slowly, and generally display a lack of “life”; people with anxiety are more hyped up as they try to catch up with their racing thoughts.  Also, people with anxiety disorder show a presence of fear as they worry about what happens in the future, while depressed people without anxiety do not seem to care at all. This is because they have resigned to the fact that it will be the same thing over and over again, they will predict the future based on their depression. Sites like this discuss how hopelessness and depression can lead to bigger problems.

However, depression and anxiety can exist in one person at the same time. But most often, than not, people suffering from depression already had a history of anxiety disorders prior to the depression.

Mental health affects the overall health of a person

Mental health is strongly linked to physical health. When a person has a chronic illness, chances are he develops a mental disorder, either depression or anxiety or in other forms. Likewise, when an individual is suffering from mental illness, his physical being also is affected and may develop a chronic disease. Therefore, mental health is important and very significant to the well-being of a person.

Greater awareness of these health issues, its detection, how to handle them, and knowing where to seek help is essential. Understanding a society’s mental health issues is very important as well so that those people who are fortunate enough not to suffer these situations, can serve as support groups and can help those who are suffering from this illness. Identifying those who are in need of such help is a big help already, and not judging them is another.

It is important to recognize the fact that it is a medical condition and can be treated just like any other illnesses. Many organizations whose advocacy is mental health are spreading awareness and giving assistance to patients. Psychotherapy sessions are now being made more affordable. A Philadelphia PA mental health clinic, for example, has increased the number of its staff so they can accept more clients and they have reduced their professional fees significantly to make the sessions more affordable. Just like any other illness, there are now a lot of clinics where one can go for treatment, regardless of the issues they are confronted with. To combat these issues, the recognition that help is needed is a significant factor so that conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, major mood disorders or major depressions, anxiety disorders, etc. can be addressed and treated.

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