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Mental Health: What It Is, How to Take Care of It and When to Go to the Doctor

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In the United States, almost half of adults (46.4 percent) will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.

The most common illness is depression. Next on the list are drug addiction, alcoholism, anxiety disorder and schizophrenia.

People are not used to taking care of their mental health: they rarely turn to specialists and usually do not understand what is happening to them.

What is mental health?

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Our mental health consists of cognitive health (a healthy way of seeing the world and ourselves), emotional and behavioral spheres.

The official definition says that a mentally healthy person has happiness and well-being in life.

But mental health is not about being happy all the time. A mentally healthy person experiences a whole range of feelings, and anger and sadness are part of it.

The main thing is that your emotions and behavior must correspond to the current situation, and to be justified.

According to him, there are 5 components of how a person should take care of their mental health:

Sleep well.

The brain perceives sleep deprivation as anxiety, forcing it to work hard.

Constant lack of sleep can cause heart problems and diabetes. The secretion of hormones, including testosterone in men, is lost.

People who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to depression, paranoia or anxiety.

Eat a balanced diet.

A diet high in nutrients and low in fat can prevent depression and reduce its symptoms.

Exercise.

Research from Harvard Medical School has confirmed that those who walk 20-30 minutes a day have better cognitive functions of the brain.

That is, their brains are trained to respond faster; memorize, and perceive new information more easily.

And on a walk, the level of stress hormones — cortisol and alpha-amylase — decreases. This is evidenced by a study by scientists from the University of Michigan.

Be socially integrated: socialize with friends and family.

Experiments show that social isolation is harmful to both humans and animals.

Get hobbies.

In particular, those that bring you pleasure and the feeling that you are doing something meaningful.

How to understand that your mental health is okay

The main sign — you function well in the surrounding environment around you.

Each person has the main domains (or areas) in which they participate.

The child, for example, has these: education, family, friends, and extracurricular activities.

A child with a normal average IQ of 100 should do well in school. However, they constantly get F. This indicates that the child is not functioning well in this area of their life.

Or a person loves his job and suddenly starts working less efficiently, says that they have no desire and are constantly distracted.

These are also signs that their mental health is not in order, and you need to see a specialist.

What to ask a psychotherapist

After you decide to visit a therapist, you should first ask them the right questions.

Check with your psychotherapist:

👉 What method of psychotherapy does this specialist work on?

👉 On the basis of what training do they do it?

👉 What is the evidence base of a method?

👉 What are the risks?

👉 How many patients did the psychotherapist work with and with what results?

These are all normal questions that should not cause discomfort to either the patient or the psychotherapist.

For example, a psychotherapist should explain that 12 sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy for a child with depression is 45% success. For a child with anxiety — 60%.

Doctors also know that cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmacological treatment are equally effective in anxiety disorders. Separately, these methods have a 60% success rate, and in combination — 80%. Then a person has the right to choose.

A real specialist should know such figures and explain that there will be no immediate effect, but there are chances.

There is the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in England, which produces protocols on how to treat various diseases.

Their website has protocol options even for parents. Patients, examining them, come to the psychotherapist with the knowledge of what they want.