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Depression and Anxiety: Help and Treatment

A Practical Guide to Feeling Good

You’re not alone

You feel exhausted all the time, and every day feels like a marathon. You toss back cup after cup of coffee or Diet Coke just to get through the day, but you inevitably face the crash that comes after each quick lift.

You’ve started to become worried about the future, and you’re paralyzed by a never-ending series of “what ifs” and worst case scenarios running through your mind. You can’t get to sleep at night, and then once you do, you can’t wake up in the morning.

All the pleasure has been sucked out of life, and it’s getting harder and harder to keep going like this.

The Facts

The sobering truth is that you may be suffering from a mental disorder, and you are not alone. An estimated 26.2% of adults in the U.S. suffer from a “diagnosable mental disorder” in any given year*. That works out to roughly 58 million people.

That’s an incredible amount of people suffering from very real illnesses, but chances are they don’t even realize it?

If you consider more recent census data and statistics on mental disorders, like they did at the World of Psychology website, the numbers increase to 32.4% of adults, which is about 75 million people. That means 1 in 3 American adults has been affected by a mental disorder in the past year.

Mental disorders are more common than most people realize. Normal, hard-working people like you and me stand a good chance of experiencing the symptoms of a mental disorder at some point in our lives.

Mental disorders are the most common form of disability in North America

Leading the way are anxiety disorders, which affect over 18% of the population, or 40 million people. The next most prevalent form of mental disorder is depression, which affects 8% of the population, or 18 million people, in both major and more moderate, but chronic forms. The often misunderstood bipolar disorders affect another 6 million people.

Many people also suffer from more than one mental disorder at once. For instance, it’s very common to suffer from depression and anxiety at the same time.

Substance abuse is also more likely if you already have some form of mental illness.

If mental disorders are so common, why don’t I hear about them more often?

In short, pride and ignorance. Pride makes us deny that we might be ill. Being ill has somehow become shameful or embarrassing.

Mental illness, which carries a very negative stigma–often associated with words like “crazy” or “unstable”–is a label that no one wants placed on them.

While it is very likely that a significant number of your friends, family and coworkers have been affected by a mental disorder at some point in their lives, they sure aren’t talking about it. Nobody likes a complainer, right?

And the less people talk about it, the easier it is for ignorance to dominate people’s opinions. The truth remains hidden, and millions continue to suffer needlessly.

Life is stressful…I just need to tough it out, right?

Everyone responds to stress differently. If you read books that describe the biology of stress, such as Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky, a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, you’ll find out that a good portion of your body’s response to stress was established before you were even born.

That doesn’t mean that you have no control over your life. It simply means that your response to stress is unique, and it isn’t necessarily your choice as to how much stress you can take before you reach your physical and mental limit. It isn’t all a matter of willpower.

Some people seem able to take an enormous amount of stress and abuse, but don’t seem affected by it at all. And some people’s nervous systems react strongly to stress, and they have a hard time calming down once the stress has passed. Since life isn’t about to cut you a break just because you’re tunes a bit more sensitively, this can lead to a chronic state of emergency or anxiety that slowly depletes your limited energy reserves.

Without adequate energy, you’ll start to feel the physical, emotional, and mental effects of depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. Scientists can easily induce some of the symptoms of mental illness in healthy mice, rats, and even human subjects, by exposing them to stressful stimuli for long enough. That’s why people use torture to overwhelm a person, so that they eventually break down and submit. Anyone who’s been depressed or anxious for long enough will tell you that it is torture.

This is only one theory for the cause of some mental disorders. Try as they might, researchers still have yet to discover the real cause of most mental disorders. These are people that dedicate their lives to studying the brain and its relationship to health, and they still scratch their heads and can only offer theories. But that doesn’t mean that the situation is hopeless. Far from it.

Maybe I do have a mental disorder. That explains the sadness, fatigue, guilt, anger…so what do I do?

That’s what this website is all about. I’ve found a way to control my mood and manage my energy, and I think the best approach combines conventional and complementary/alternative methods. You can Google to your heart’s content, and you’ll be sure to learn a lot, but for some reason the worlds of medicine, traditional healing, and first-hand experiences don’t like to mix. That’s a shame, because they all have something valuable to contribute.

Keep in mind that the opinions contained on this site are just that, opinions, and I am not a medical professional, nor should my advice be taken as some sort of guaranteed cure for what ails you. That’s something that no one can promise.

But I am someone who has suffered from mental illness firsthand, and I have enough of a background in science and health to have gleaned some insights from the hundreds of hours that I’ve spent researching in the library and online. I’ve also spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on different medications, supplements, and herbs. I’ve shared my ideas with other people, and some of them have seen positive results as well.

Visit your doctor

The best way to get started is to visit your doctor and get checked out. Eliminate the possibility of an organic cause for your symptoms, such as hypothyroidism, or some other condition that can cause symptoms that are very similar to those of mental disorders.

After that, make an appointment to see a psychiatrist. They are pros at dealing with mental disorders, and you want someone experienced to guide your recovery. Try to ignore the stigma attached to words that start with psych- . It doesn’t mean “crazy”. It just means having to do with the mind. Your health is more important than other people’s prejudices, anyway.

Begin treatment

Once you’ve received a diagnosis from the doctors, and you’ve considered your options in terms of treatment, you’re ready to start making some important decisions. This website will offer up some tips that can help you to make the right choices for your unique situation.

I know you might feel too scared and confused to act, but doing nothing will not make your illness go away. By deciding to take action and seek help, you take a huge step toward feeling better.

It’s common for depressed people to doubt that they are really ill. That’s the illness talking, as well as the power of denial. I listened to those lies for far too long. Don’t waste any more of your time watching your life slowly spin out of control, feeling guilty and hopeless about your situation. It just ain’t right.

Be patient

The most important thing is to not get too discouraged if it takes some time to find a treatment that works. A person’s entire being is affected by depression, so it is a complicated task to get things back on track. Be patient. Learn about as many options as you can, and try them one after another until you get the relief you want. Stay open-minded, and never give up hope.

 

* Unless otherwise specified, all statistics are taken from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website:
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml
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