Mental health is an important part of a person’s overall health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” From this definition, we can glean that being mentally healthy does not just pertain to a lack of mental disabilities or illnesses. Being mentally healthy means that one can successfully cope with the stress of everyday life. It also means that they can function well and are capable of making a meaningful contribution to their respective communities.
You may have a friend or know someone with a mental illness, and you want to help somehow. Know more about some topics that concern mental health by checking out the discussion below.
What is depression?
In the United States of America, about 10% of adults struggle with depression. Clinical depression is a medical disorder that lasts for at least two consecutive weeks, which can severely affect one’s productivity and ability to go through the motions of daily life. It has various symptoms that include sleeping too much or sleeping too little, loss of interest in activities that one normally enjoys, and recurring suicidal thoughts.
According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, the average person struggling with a mental illness takes over ten years to seek help. If you know someone who might be suffering from depression, it would help a lot if you could gently encourage them to get professional help. You may even volunteer to do some tasks such as looking up counselors and therapists in the South Jordan and making a list of questions that they can ask on their first therapy session.
The effect of chronic stress on the brain
Chronic stress, such as continuously working for long hours, poses dangers to the brain. Once the brain senses a potentially harmful situation, the Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis releases cortisol, a hormone that prepares the body for immediate action. It is necessary for the “fight-or-flight” response.
But a constant high level of cortisol is not good for the brain. An elevated cortisol level reduces the electric signals in the hippocampus, a part of the brain which is responsible for the moderation of memories, learning, and stress control. The hippocampus also inhibits HPA axis activity, so when its functions wane, your ability to control stress weakens as well. Aside from this, too much cortisol may also cause the prefrontal cortex to shrink. The prefrontal cortex regulates behavior such as when concentrating on work and making important decisions.
Dealing with a mental illness can be difficult because some consider it a taboo topic or a condition that one can just wish away. Fortunately, there have been efforts to destigmatize it in recent years through various mental health awareness campaigns. Fighting for visibility and representation of people living with mental illness may be an uphill battle. But as long as people continue to educate others about the cause, hope remains that the situation will improve in the near future.