In addition to being part of a healthy support system, peer support programs provide a multitude of benefits.
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In addition to being part of a healthy support system, peer support programs provide a multitude of benefits.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a type of anxiety disorder that typically develops after the experience of a traumatic event. PTSD is severely disruptive. People who suffer from PTSD may have nightmares, flashbacks, or fear that they are in danger even when no threat is present. These feelings are often brought on by triggers, things that bring back memories of the traumatic event. Triggers can be either internal (thoughts, feelings, memories) or external (situations, objects, words).People with PTSD may also experience guilt or anger about the event, which might lead to maladaptive coping behaviors such as excessive alcohol or drug use. While PTSD has been more recently associated with veterans of war, it can happen with any sort of traumatic event.
A serious health concern that often goes unnoticed is the alarming presence of mental illness on college campuses.
Caregivers are often people who are there to provide support and help for people who can’t live their lives under “normal” circumstances, or people who need others’ assistance to complete their day-to-day activities. Other than children or the elderly, the people who need help from caregivers are classified as the “chronically ill”. Caregivers exist to help people with chronic illnesses that create severe life impairment complete their day-to-day activities, and also improve their mental well-being. Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes, from all kinds of backgrounds or ethnicities, and provide care for many different reasons.
Comorbidity typically refers to a condition "existing simultaneously with and usually independently of another medical condition". This can be any combination of illnesses or conditions, whether mental, physical, or perceived, that almost always make the patient’s lives more challenging and worsen their life quality.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder that is classified by depressive symptoms that occur within the same season each year, usually winter. It is commonly thought that SAD is the result of biochemical imbalances that occur with shorter daylight hours lessening amounts of sunlight. As seasons change, people experience a shift in their biological internal clock or circadian rhythm that can cause them to be out of step with their daily schedule. A second, less common type of seasonal affective disorder occurs in the summer months in individuals who live in warmer climates. This type of depression is related to heat and humidity, rather than light.
In a first-of-its-kind study published in the American Journal of Affective Medicine in 20132, five researchers reported their conclusion that, across all major mental health issues (sorted here as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, general anxiety, major depression, eating disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, schizophrenia, and suicide), information searches about mental health issues on Google peak high during the winter months and drop to a significantly lower level during the summer.
We know that mental health issues do not discriminate by gender. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and other major mental health issues similarly affect both men and women. So why are men, on average, three times more likely than women to die by suicide?
Accurately recognizing the warning signs of a mental health condition is sometimes difficult, and sometimes men (and women) are not in-tune with their emotions. Men may feel added social pressures to be bold, confident, and stoic. Popular culture reinforces the image of the “masculine man” as powerful, courageous, competitive and successful.
While these traits are admirable, they are deserving of compromise. The social construction of masculinity is problematic because it does not leave room for anxieties, doubts, misconceptions or struggles. Reality tells us that life is full of little (and big!) anxieties and struggles. We want to help our men prioritize their mental health habits and manage their “emotional teaspoons”. Let’s #RedefineNormal and let our men know - You are not alone.
Visit our Learning Center to learn more about men's mental health! Also, check out some other "manly" support systems:
Post-traumatic stress disorder is not the only mental health issue among military veterans and active personnel. What are some other mental health problems and how can we help?
In the U.S., approximately five million men experience depression in a given year. Male depression is a serious mental disorder and needs immediate treatment. Yet, it often goes untreated and underdiagnosed in men.
BARRIER #1: ATTITUDINAL BARRIERS
Attitudinal barriers commonly cause those living with mental illness to avoid seeking mental health services. These attitudinal barriers can include believing that a mental illness will resolve on its own or not believing in the beneficial aspects of psychiatric care.
As an example, look to a 2009 Psychiatric Services study which examined needs for mental health services in a sample of 272 veterans who met screening criteria for a mental health condition. Researchers found that negative beliefs about mental health services were strongly associated with concerns about barriers to care and an increased perception of mental illness stigma. Negative beliefs about mental health care were also associated with a decreased likelihood of mental health counseling in the six months prior to interview.
Can attitudinal barriers be adjusted?
Educational interventions introduced throughout the early school years could work to develop a better publicly-shared understanding about mental illness. Ideally, educational interventions would orient children and young adults toward social inclusion and pro-social action. Programs introduced during the final years of high school could include contact with a person living with mental illness; this person could contribute to the intervention process on a voluntary basis by sharing her/his experience of living with a mental health condition. Interventions successful in aiding the development of empathy toward those with mental illness may prove successful in removing attitudinal barriers toward mental health issues and treatment.
Strengthening support in local communities could be facilitated by the creation of weekly or monthly community meetings centered around mental health and well-being. Meetings would bring community members together with the shared goals of spreading information about mental health issues and resources, bolstering public support, and creating community bonds. If a wellness group is missing in your community, consider discussing with friends, family or town board members the possibility of starting a mental health and wellness group near you. The number of interested people may surprise you!
[button color="#8ba33b" size="small" link="https://www.nostigmas.org/mental_health_barrier_2/"]BARRIER #2: MENTAL ILLNESS STIGMAS -->[/button]
Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (sometimes referred to as Obamacare) will begin to take effect. A comprehensive summary of the entire Act can be found here, but here’s a quick overview of some of the changes that will take place:
Meditation is a form of complementary and alternative medicine. There are numerous reasons to practice meditation. One common reason is for health related purposes. In fact, some people use this therapy to cope with illnesses. It is a great stress reliever that can be used to increase calmness and physical relaxation. Mediation can also improve practitioner’s psychological balance in aiding with the treatment of Depression and Anxiety disorders such as conversion disorder. By practicing meditation, one can approach their thoughts and emotions more positively. It can refine practitioner’s ability to focus their attention as well. Recently, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) studies reveal that meditation can also improve attention-related abilities. This is very useful to those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder.
According to the NCCAM, previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness meditation may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression as well. This form of meditation focuses attention on breathing techniques to develop increased awareness of the present. A study was completed about meditation and it’s affect on the brain utilizing a mindfulness-based stress reduction. The study’s purpose is to distinguish specific brain regions of the participants. The results showed that “Brain images in the meditation group revealed increases in gray matter concentration in the left. The hippocampus is an area of the brain involved in learning, memory, and emotional control, and is suspected of playing a role in producing some of the positive effects of meditation.” This proves that an underlying brain mechanism is associated with the mindfulness meditation in mental health. Overall, meditation can be great tool to help aid in treating mental illnesses. It would work best used in combination with other treatments. Meditation should not be used as a replacement for conventional care or as a reason to postpone seeing a doctor about a medical problem.
[tabs][tab title="Depression"] (Def.):" a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty with thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts or an attempt to commit suicide." (Medline Plus Dictionary)
[tab title="Anxiety"] (Def.)": any of various disorders (as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, a phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder) in which anxiety is a predominant feature—called also anxiety neurosis, anxiety state."(Medlineplus Medical Dictionary)
[tab title="Bi-polar Disorder"] (Def.):"any of several mood disorders characterized usually by alternating episodes of depression and mania or by episodes of depression alternating with mild nonpsychotic excitement."(Medlineplus Medical Dictionary)
[tab title="ADD/ADHD"] (Def.):"Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiogical disorder seen in both children and adults that is comprised of deficits in behavioral inhibition, sustained attention and resistance to distraction, and the regulation of one’s activity level to the demands of a situation." (Adhdaware.org)
[tab title="Schizophrenia"] (Def.):"a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought (as in delusions), perception (as in hallucinations), and behavior."(Medlineplus Medical Dictionary)
[tab title="Eating Disorders"] (Def.) :"any of several psychological disorders (as anorexia nervosa or bulimia) characterized by serious disturbances of eating behavior." (Medlineplus Medical Dictionary)
Light therapy (sometimes referred to as phototherapy or bright light therapy) is a type of treatment that uses light to treat many different disorders.
Acupuncture is defined as “an originally Chinese practice of inserting fine needles through the skin at specific points especially to cure disease or relieve pain.” It is a form of Asian medicine and alternative therapy which can treat physical, mental, and emotional conditions.
According to the "American Art Therapy Association, “art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.”