Category: Mental Health

Depression – A Modern Day Epidemic

Depression by the numbers

During the 1950s if you wanted to track the number of people who were disabled from a mental health disorder  you counted the population that resided in state mental hospitals. Today you  count the number of social security disability checks that are received due to a mental illness. Robert Whitaker tracks the shocking rise of mental illness in his fascinating book Anatomy Of An Epidemic.   According to Whitaker, in 1955 there were just over 38,000 people hospitalized in state mental hospitals due to depression. Today, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability for people ages fifteen to forty-five in the United States.  According to NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) depression affects 15 million adults. Of those diagnosed, 58% or nine million people, are “severely impaired”, and considered disabled by depression.

Subjective criteria

The increased  number of people (including children) diagnosed with depression in the past few decades, makes me think that depression has reached epidemic proportions. Some people believe that depression is diagnosed more frequently today because health care professionals have become better at recognizing the symptoms. I agree that health care professionals continue to make improvements in diagnosing mental health problems. However, the clinical threshold for diagnosing depression, as well as other mental health conditions, is arguably subjective at best.  For example, why is the clinical threshold for depression defined by two weeks? What if you are sad for five weeks, or only ten days?  Is the person who is sad, officially mentally ill on day 14 ? More importantly, what if “sadness” follows a job loss, home foreclosure, or the loss of a pet? Is the sad person who just lost their job, and feeling depressed, experiencing a normal reaction following a difficult time in their lives? Have you been sad for two weeks following a hardship? I have. Are we all depressed? I think it is important that we view ourselves and one another from a strengths perspective and not an illness perspective. The implications of mis-diagnosing or over diagnosing starts us down a path with serious health implications including wrong treatment for the times in our lives that we are perhaps most vulnerable.

The intention of this blog is to share general personal ideas or comments that relate to everyday personal and interpersonal challenges. It is not intended as a substitute for mental-health counseling, including individual, couples, family, or group counseling. Readers should not rely on any part of the content of this blog as a substitute for professional counseling. If the reader needs professional counseling advice they should seek the services of a licensed professional, and only rely upon the advice of a licensed professional with whom the reader has a professional relationship. Further, any comments or postings made by others do not constitute my opinion, and such opinions may vary from my own.

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Emotional Health

A Mindful State of Mind

Emotional health can be greatly improved when we practice mindfulness skills. Earlier I discussed the art of staying in the present moment  to sustain mindfulness. Understanding the nature of impermanence also invites a mindful state of mind.  After all, all things are impermanent. The feeling you have right now will soon be changing. Sadness may give way to joy, which may give way to contentment, which may give way to sadness. The thought you are having right now will soon be replaced by another thought. Your body is also changing in this very moment. All of our material possessions are impermanent by nature.

Emotional Regulation

When we keep the idea of impermanence in our consciousness our emotional health becomes better regulated. We cease to feel disappointment when the things we want, crave and desire come to an end. We also realize that our suffering will eventually evolve, in some way. (Hopefully the evolution will result in growth, but this is dependent on how we cope, our resources,  our personality, impulses  etc.)

Cling Much?

A reflection on impermanence gives rise to an understanding of how clinging can be detrimental to our emotional health. An attempt, assumption, or hope that something will remain the same is a delusion. Likewise an assumption or hope that something will remain the same is a delusion. These delusions gives rise to emotions such as sadness, disappointment, resentment and anger.

The Merge

When we are present and aware of this particular moment we also realize that this moment is unique and special just as it is.  And when presence and the true nature of impermanence are merged together in our consciousness, moment to moment, our emotional health, I believe, will become infused with a greater sense of peace, understanding and contentment.

with blessings – diane

The intention of this blog is to share general personal ideas or comments that relate to everyday personal and interpersonal challenges. It is not intended as a substitute for mental-health counseling, including individual, couples, family, or group counseling. Readers should not rely on any part of the content of this blog as a substitute for professional counseling. If the reader needs professional counseling advice they should seek the services of a licensed professional, and only rely upon the advice of a licensed professional with whom the reader has a professional relationship. Further, any comments or postings made by others do not constitute my opinion, and such opinions may vary from my own.

 

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Emotional Health

Mindfully in Control

Emotional health can be impacted by many factors. Some of these factors may be outside of our control. However, much of our emotional health is very much in our control. When we are feeling depressed, anxious, or angry our emotional health is suffering, and we feel out of control. We then react to our environment with irrational behaviors, thoughts and impulses. As I expressed in a previous blog post, attending to our emotional health need not be predicated on extravagant or expensive expenditures of money or time. Joy, playfulness, spontaneity and peace can be found in simple pleasures such as observing a beautiful sunset, taking a peaceful walk, playing with your pet, listening to music, or laughing with your partner.

As Sir Paul once said “Let it be”

Emotional health can be greatly enhanced by learning mindfulness skills. One important component of mindfulness skills includes learning to be in the present moment. Observing the wonder of a beautiful sunset is lost on us when we are constantly in our heads criticizing, analyzing and comparing.  A critique such as: “The sunset would be better with more pink, and less orange” is not allowing yourself to enjoy the sunset as it is. “The sunset is beautiful but not as pretty as the one last week” is comparing. How often does evaluative comparisons hinder our wellbeing? To enjoy the sunset, let it be, and allow yourself to be.  If we allow ourselves to just observe what is, without attaching a thought, analysis or critique of what is before us, our emotions, quite effortlessly are calmed and we feel more at peace.

Emotional Health In This moment

When we are engaged mindfully, we make space for emotional control and emotional health. The presence of mindfulness exist in a space by itself. Mindfulness cannot exist in the same space with re-living the past. Mindfulness cannot exist in the same space as worrying about the future. Being in the present moment is one of the core skills of mindfulness practice that lends itself to wellness and emotional health.

with blessings – diane

The intention of this blog is to share general personal ideas or comments that relate to everyday personal and interpersonal challenges. It is not intended as a substitute for mental-health counseling, including individual, couples, family, or group counseling. Readers should not rely on any part of the content of this blog as a substitute for professional counseling. If the reader needs professional counseling advice they should seek the services of a licensed professional, and only rely upon the advice of a licensed professional with whom the reader has a professional relationship. Further, any comments or postings made by others do not constitute my opinion, and such opinions may vary from my own.

 

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Mental Health Wellness

Welcome to my blog

My name is Diane Chrestman, and I am a mental-health counselor, with a private practice in Suwanee GA. I serve individuals and families who are suffering due to emotional and cognitive difficulties, trauma and complicated relationships. My intentions are for the comments, observations and ideas that are shared in this blog to move us all in the direction of peace, joy, and awareness.

Let’s take a look at the statistics

According to the Food and Drug Administration the number of people disabled by a mental health illness has doubled since 1987. In 2007, it is estimated that 1 in every 76 Americans suffers from a mental-health illness. Do we have a mental-health epidemic in our country, community, families? I think that we do.

Mental-health professionals have many different opinions as to the cause of this startling rise in mental health illnesses, and I will likely discuss some of the various hypothesis in future blogs.

Whatever the causes may be, I believe that an equally important facet of the discussion is identifying and promoting prevention measures which help us achieve and maintain mental health wellness. I believe several options are available to us all and that including mental-health wellness activities should become part of our daily health routine.

Promoting good mental health means preventative measures

Prevention measures can be simple and inexpensive. One of the most important steps we can take is to make a commitment to our mental-health. We make jokes about needing a “mental health day” but it seems by the time we make this comment we are at the end of our rope.

Good mental health requires time, be patient

I am convinced that if you want to feel emotionally balanced, centered, grounded, and happy, you must routinely attend to your mental health. Being, remaining, or becoming mentally healthy can take time and commitment, just as eating healthy may require a little more time and planning. Committing to your mental health also takes the right amount of effort. One 10 minute attempt at meditation, will probably not realize any long-lasting improvements in concentration abilities.

Another reason to love exercise…

Exercise is another (free) mental health wellness activity which has been linked to relieving depression and insomnia. Meditation is a particularly powerful tool that has been shown to be beneficial in relieving a host of mental health issues such as emotional regulation, reducing anxiety and panic symptoms, and improving concentration. Making time to be with the people we love is also good for our mental health.

Or get creative

Expressing yourself in a creative manner is immensely therapeutic. Try picking up a sketch pad, paintbrush or even arranging flowers, sticks or whatever you can find outside. Try something!! Make a conscious effort and commitment to do something today, the rest of the week, the rest of the month.

But in the end, the first step is commitment

Take care for your mental health. To deepen the experience, make your intentions conscious. Say to yourself that you are making a commitment to (fill in the blank – exercise, meditate, be creative etc) because you are important and committed to your mental health. Let’s do it!! (I feel inspired just writing about it).

With blessings – diane

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