When many people think of mental illness, often we think of the more severe presentations portrayed in the movies or on TV such as Schizophrenia, Psychosis or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) as portrayed in the movie Split which came out earlier this year.
What many don’t realize is that according to the Canadian Mental Health Organization:
- 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
- Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
- Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
It has also been documented that mental and physical health is essentially linked. There are several associations between mental health and chronic physical conditions that significantly impact people’s quality of life. 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. The WHO states that “there is no health without mental health.” Nowhere is the relationship between mental and physical health more evident than in the area of chronic conditions.
Some of the associations between mental and physical health are:
- Poor mental health is a risk factor for chronic physical conditions.
- People with serious mental health conditions are at high risk of experiencing chronic physical conditions.
- People with chronic physical conditions are at risk of developing poor mental health.
I have personally witnessed the effects of Depression and Anxiety on the physical health of my clients and vice versa. I have watched them struggle and blame themselves for feeling low and referred to as lazy by others. We need to understand that people don’t like feeling this way and often struggle in silence. We need to understand that our brain contains neurotransmitters and many of us do not realize that when these neurotransmitters are out of balance, our whole body suffers. If the brain is not producing enough Serotonin which is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for Depression then the brain needs help.
There are many natural products on the market which naturally boost Serotonin levels and speaking to someone, such as a good friend or a therapist, has also been proven to help. Often the brain gets a bad rap, but if we really think about, our brain literally controls every aspect of our body. It determines if our heart is going to beat, if our lungs are going to fill with air and whether or not we can feel joy and peace.
Let’s take some time to appreciate our brain and help it out if it needs support.
Andrea Howarth MA,
Registered Provisional Psychologist