Mental health is often overlooked. You eat right, you exercise, you visit your primary care physician, and you try to go to bed on time, but do you set aside time each day for your mental health? Some neglect mental health because they don’t think it’s significant, while others put it on the back-burner, and never get around to putting the time in to work towards good mental health. However, mental health is a vital part of wellness that’s too meaningful to ignore.
Mental health encompasses a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health affects our mood, our thinking, and our behavior, and determines how we respond to situations and the the choices that we make.
A common problem
Mental health problems are quite common. A 2014 study found that one in five American adults experience mental health issues, and one in ten young people experience a period of major depression.
It’s not always easy to identify mental health problems, though. It’s possible that someone you’re close with is experiencing a mental health problem, and you don’t even realize it. You may not even realize that you yourself are struggling with mental health issues.
Understanding the signs
Sometimes mental health problems are hard to identify. There are some common warning signs for mental health problems that can help indicate there’s an issue, however.
- Eating too little, or too much
- Too little sleep, or too much sleep
- Isolation and seclusion, or social withdrawal
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Inexplicable pain, aches, discomfort
- Constantly feeling tired
- Strong feelings of sadness, stress, or anxiety
- Confrontational behavior
- Worrying, uneasiness, confusion, forgetfulness
- Mood swings
- Dwelling on specific thoughts or memories
- Thinking or wishing harm upon others, or yourself
These warning signs don’t always mean that there’s a mental health problem, and mental health problems don’t always cause these symptoms. However, looking for common warning signs for mental health problems can help you identify mental health needs.
Improving mental health
There are some things that affect your mental health which are beyond your control. Your genes, brain chemistry, and your family history all affect mental health. Life experiences and events may also affect your mental health.
Of course, some factors that influence your mental health are well within your control.
- Stay social. Be sure to spend time with friends and family members.
- Focus on keeping a positive attitude.
- Exercise often and stay physical active.
- Do good deeds. Make a point to accomplish things that are beneficial for others.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
- Eat a healthy diet. Research shows that maintaining a healthy weight helps improve mood and mental health.
- Do things that make you happy. Take up scrapbooking or bird watching — anything that brings you joy.
- Set aside time to think about and reflect on your mental health.
- Seek help when needed.
Northwest Arkansas Psychiatry
Problems with mental health should not be trivialized. Treating mental health problems isn’t as simple as just cheering up or choosing to be happy. You may need help from a medical professional. There’s strength in realizing that you need – and seeking out – mental health care. A psychiatrist can help diagnose, treat, and in some cases prevent mental health problems. Contact Northwest Arkansas Psychiatry for adult or pediatric psychiatric care in Northwest Arkansas.