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Nearly 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in their lifetime, and 1 in 25 adults experience serious mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness ( NAMI). There are many misconceptions surrounding mental illness. The lack of understanding and support often keeps individuals from seeking out support and treatment, which can then lead to worsening mental health. However, a supportive social circle can improve the chances that an individual will seek out treatment. Mental illness has many forms, and can impact anyone.
MYTH: People are born with mental illness.
FACT: Some people may be born into a family that has a history of developing a specific mental illness (thinking Dementia, Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc). Others develop mental illness even though there is no family history of it. Mental illness can be triggered by a myriad of factors that aren’t related to genetics. Declining physical health can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental illness. Social distress, childhood trauma, stress, grief, etc can cause mental illness. There are many factors that contribute to mental health.
MYTH: Mental illness is not real and should be ignored.
FACT: Mental illness is a very real sickness. There are many forms, and symptoms aren’t always immediately visible to others. One of my close friends suffers from a bipolar disorder, and has been told many times that she is not sick because she looks very put together and in control. The reality is that she follows a strict medication plan, regularly meets with a psychiatrist, and has many other systems in place to manage her symptoms, which still occur in a very real and frustrating way. If you suspect an acquaintance or loved one is suffering from mental illness, one of the easiest ways to help is to gently ask more questions and validate their symptoms. If you are struggling, remember that your symptoms are very real and you are entitled to care and treatment.
MYTH: There is no cure for mental illness.
FACT: There are many ways to treat mental illness. Some forms of mental illness can respond to treatment and management to the point that the individual no longer suffers from symptoms. More serious forms don’t necessarily heal or “go away” but they can become much more manageable with proper treatment. Managing and treating mental illness varies depending on the individual and the severity of the illness. Treatments can include changes in diet, exercise , counseling or therapy, support groups, medication, etc. It’s important to discuss your mental health with your doctor/medical professional to find the best options for your specific needs.
Mental illness is a very real health condition. It has to do with changes in emotions, behavior, and thinking. Sometimes it involves all of these at once. Mental illness can be a result of a traumatic experience. It can also be linked to stress at work, social distress, family relationships, abuse, isolation, job loss, etc. There are many reasons people experience mental illness. Admitting mental illness is the first step toward relief. In the same way that we address physical health conditions, we must also address mental health conditions in order to experience full wellness.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.