Mental illness (depression, anxiety, etc.) are rampant, and more and more people seem to be affected by it as time goes on. Is it really the case that more people are suffering from mental illness these days, or is it possible that these individuals have had mental health struggles all along, but did not speak up about it until recently with the awareness surrounding mental illness and ending stigmas spreading like wildfire?
Regardless, it is truly a sad situation we’re facing today when looking at the statistics. It’s sad if a majority of these individuals felt the need to keep their mental illnesses a secret due out of fear of being shamed because of the strong stigma attached to it. Thankfully, now that the awareness surrounding mental health has increased, the stigma has begun to weaken.
Regardless of the progress toward breaking stigmas and spreading awareness about mental health, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. The problem is that many people don’t take mental illness (like depression) as seriously as they should. In fact, there’s a strong chance that if someone shares his or her struggles with depression, they’ll reveal that they’ve been told to:
- work harder
- stop complaining
- stop seeking attention
- lose weight (or gain weight depending on which one appears to apply)
- get over it
- grow up and put their big girl/boy panties and deal with life
- just accept that life is hard
- quit whining
- be thankful that they don't have a real illness like cancer!
While some of these can definitely help aid in overall mental health, no one or sum of these bits of advice offers a cure. The last comment is the one I have the hardest time with, and that's because mental illness is just as serious as cancer. Now, I’m not in any way comparing the two illnesses, as they are VERY different. It’s not like you can compare apples to oranges. The point is that the seriousness of cancer and mental illness are comparable because both can be deadly if they are not treated the right way.
And, the problem is, if someone is battling cancer, they seem to get all of the support in the world and are constantly checked up on. They are also seen as fighters and warriors because cancer is a scary thing to have. There is no denying that at all. And you know what else is a fact? Mental illness can also be an incredibly scary thing to have.
The problem is that those who are battling mental illnesses like depression are not taken seriously. They will not receive a lot of support except from therapists and those who also face mental illnesses and understand what they’re going through. Yet if someone had announced that they had cancer, they would receive all of the love and support. Typically when someone had lost their battle to cancer, they’re remembered as strong and as heroic for fighting as long as they could.
That said, here is the other big problem about the poor attitude from others when it comes to mental illness—they fail to realize that those who lose the battle to mental illnesses were not taken seriously, or treated the right away, and did not get the help they desperately needed. In fact, they see these suffering individuals as selfish or weak for taking their own lives. Many people fail to realize that these people were ill, not selfish. And I have a big problem with saying that someone who could not handle or control his/her mental illness committed suicide. Why? Because they did not commit anything. They simply lost their battle with mental illness. And it has nothing to do with not appreciating what they had, or not loving their families enough to win the battle.
The proof right there is that many celebrities who had suffered from mental illnesses like depression, such as Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, Chris Cornell, and Chester Bennington appeared to have it all. They appeared to have all of the money, they appeared to have great families, great experiences, and they appeared to be living the dream life! A life that most people would trade their eyes or teeth to have.
However, all of that is meaningless because of the fact that they were clearly suffering within and found no way out, and sadly they ended up losing their battles to depression.
The bottom line is that mental illnesses like depression are just as serious as cancer even though the diseases are extremely different by nature.
Here is the good news, though: Even though there is no cure for depression like there is no cure for most types of cancers, there are natural treatments to help keep your mental health under control. It’s also incredibly important for people who are suffering from mental illness to receive therapy whether it’s in person or through Skype. And if the following steps are implemented, they may help decrease the severity of depression and other types of mental illness. Let's take a look at how this can be done:
Exercise will not cure depression or any form of mental illness, but it will help boost endorphins and serotonin levels which are known as our happy chemicals. Taking a brisk walk for a half hour for 5 days a week will help keep things more manageable.
Eating Healthy Foods
It is believed that if people change their diets and eliminate processed foods and sugars, they will kill their depression or mental illness. Even though eating well will not cure any type of mental illness, it will help make it more manageable. It’s important to make sure that you get the proper nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids to keep your physical health up to par. You can always get guidance from a nutritionist or dietician if you’re unsure of what foods to eat to help keep you healthy. Again, eating well is going to help you feel better overall, but it will not cure mental illness.
Get Quality Sleep
If you don't get enough sleep (under 7 hours) or if you get too much sleep (more than 9 hours) a night, your overall health will be poor, and it will decrease your mental health. However, if you end up getting 6 hours of good quality sleep and you feel well, that is all your body may need. We are all wired a bit differently. As long as you get enough rest, that will help improve your overall mental health.
Kick Bad Habits
If you’re consuming too much sugar, alcohol, doing drugs, or smoking, in order to help manage your mental health, you need to kick those habits. Sugar and refined carbs will keep your cortisol levels high, which is the stress hormone that will keep your serotonin levels suppressed (that’s the happy chemical I mentioned earlier). The same goes for booze, and if you need help with quitting smoking, you can work with your doctor who can help wean you off.
If you have a lot of time on your hands and you cannot work because of your mental illness, you may want to volunteer your time doing something to help others. If you love animals, then you could volunteer at shelters. You could also volunteer at your local place of worship or hospital. It will help you think less and be more active.
Find Hobbies Or Take A Class
If you have a lot of time on your hands, it’s advisable to look for hobbies that interest you, or take an art or dance class… anything that you enjoy, really.
Reduce Screen Time
If you watch too much television, or if you’re on your smartphone or laptop too often, that will reduce serotonin levels and can aggravate mental illness. You don't need to give these things up completely, but you should reduce the amount of time you spend online or in front of a TV. In fact, you could make a schedule to fit the time in that you will want to use the smartphone, laptop, or watch TV to help keep things in balance. If you work in front of a screen all day, you may want to opt for getting outdoors and enjoying more time spent in nature during your free time.
Stick To A Routine
It’s very important for those with mental illnesses to stick to some kind of routine or create a daily schedule. If you follow a schedule or routine, you’ll feel a lot better just for having some organization in your life. You can also plan out when you need to pay bills and run errands in the process.
Take Natural Supplements
Not all mental illness needs to be treated through medication (though if it’s severe enough you will need to be treated by your doctor). You can always take supplements that will help boost your serotonin levels and help regulate other hormones that are erratic and contributing to your mental illness. That said, you may also want to consider taking a micronutrient supplement to help manage your mental health.
My main point is that mental illnesses, such as depression, can be just as serious as cancer, however, just like cancer, mental illness can be treated. And you’ll need to seek out the treatment options that work the best for you. Just remember that you are worth it, and you deserve to be healthy, happy and free from suffering!